EVERETT — Even a No. 1 seed is allowed to be nervous.
Despite the fact Saturday night’s first-round 2A district game wasn’t an elimination match, nerves found a way into the minds and stomachs of the Archbishop Murphy boys soccer team. The Wildcat’s shook them off however and easily dispatched Sedro-Woolley 4-1 at Everett Memorial Stadium Saturday night.
“In playoffs everything is nerve-wracking, especially when you are going up against the powers of the north,” said Murphy’s Josh Bartley, who led the team with two goals. “The North (West Conference) is a great league but so are we.”
The Cubs came out like bears in the opening minutes, pushing the action and earning the game’s first three corner kicks. Their central attack was something Wildcat coach Mike Bartley said isn’t featured as much in the Cascade Conference and caused him to make some adjustments.
“Actually, Sedro Woolley, a lot of credit to them,” Mike Bartley said. “They came after us.”
Nerves seemed to calm after Josh Bartley did as he has all season and made something happen. In the 16th minute he fielded a pass from James Bettag and dribbled through traffic on the right side of the goal box and drilled a shot into the left-side netting.
“We have to get one goal and if you get that one goal the flood gates will start going,” Josh Bartley said. “If we get that first goal under our belt our teammates and our possession will take over and we can find ways to score more goals.”
Eventually the Wildcats advantage in terms of size and experience shone through as they took control of the game. But it did take a halftime speech to really get the offense to click.
“(The message) was just play our style,” Mike Bartley said. “They looked a little nervous worrying about (Sedro), and not playing how we play which is attack with our front four.”
It didn’t take long in the second half for the message to resonate.
In the 42nd minute Brady Henderson crossed to an open Christian Thode who finished to give the Wildcats a 2-0 edge.
Bartley struck again two minutes later on a pass from Keegan McAdam.
Later Gunnar Swenson blasted one past the Sedro-Woolley keeper in the 78th minute to close the scoring on an assist from Robert Hines.
Though he didn’t show up on the scoresheet, Wildcat co-captain Jalen Crisler was the quarterback of the offense in the middle of the field, winning loose balls and setting up his teammates.
“Their No. 7 — the big lad — pretty much might have needed to charge rent for that area because he pretty much owned it,” Cubs coach Gary Warman said, describing Crisler patrolling the middle third of the field. “We had no answer for 7 in the middle. His distribution tonight was really, really good.”
Carrying a 3-0 lead for much of the second half, Murphy continued to push to score and it cost them a bit on the defensive end where the Cubs were hungry. Nef Camacho broke through in the 59th minute with a point-blank goal on a pass from Isaac Swenson.
Warman was just happy to get on the board against the Wildcats.
“We didn’t beat ourselves,” the Cub coach said. “They beat us tonight. They are just better than us. I was hoping to make it a bit more difficult for them.”
Warman went on to compare Murphy favorably with NWC champ Bellingham, which hasn’t lost all season and will be one of the co-favorites to take the district title.
“(The Wildcats are) similar to Bellingham, but much more physical and they communicate so well on the field,” he said. “Their attitude is very positive all the time.
“We haven’t had to deal with a player that’s technically that good off the dribble all year as (Bartley).”
Murphy advances to play Sammamish Tuesday at Everett Memorial Stadium in a winner-to-state non-elimination game. Sammamish, which plays in the Kingco, upset the NWC No. 2 seed Squalicum 1-0 Saturday, but has a losing record thanks in part to playing primarily 3A competition.
Sedro-Woolley will play an elimination game against Squalicum.
At Everett Memorial Stadium
Goals—Josh Bartley 2 (A), Christian Thode (A), Nef Camacho (S), Gunnar Swenson (A). Assists—Brady Henderson (A), James Bettag (A), Keegan McAdam (A), Robert Hines (A), Isaac Swenson (S). Goalkeepers—Sedro Woolley: Michael Moser. Archbishop Murphy: Jeff Scavotto. Records—Sedro Woolley 10-5-2 overall. Archbishop Murphy 14-2-1.