Archbishop Murphy boys win in shootout

LAKEWOOD — During a shootout, goalkeepers have nowhere to hide. That’s fine for someone calm and steady like Doug Ehlebracht.

Appearing in a shootout for the first time in his prep career, Ehlebracht made a key save Thursday to help lift Archbishop Murphy High School to a 3-2 Cascade Conference boys soccer victory over the Lakewood Cougars. Archbishop Murphy (3-0 in league, 4-1 overall) won its fourth game in a row by outscoring Lakewood 4-1 in the shootout.

“We’ve got four wins this year now and Doug E.’s been a big part of all of them,” first-year Archbishop Murphy head coach Eddie Fernandez said. “We expect him to give us those saves that are going to keep us in it, and he did that.”

Ehlebracht tallied seven saves in 80 regulation minutes. Following two scoreless, five-minute overtime periods, he stopped Lakewood’s third shootout kick, taken by forward Joseph Hawkins.

On the next shot, Murphy midfielder Jamie Steinman sent a low shot past Lakewood keeper James Hoback and inside the left post, clinching the Wildcats’ win.

Asked to explain his shootout mindset, Ehlebracht said “just taking deep breaths and just relax and try to react.” He certainly looked focused when he blocked Hawkins’ attempt.

“The shot was kind of in the middle,” Ehlebracht said. “I guessed right and I just reacted and saved it.”

Murphy was 4-for-4 on shootout kicks. Sean Ryan, Erik Schmidt, Aidan Huggins and Steinman scored. Lakewood was 1-for-3. Brandon Ochoa, the team’s first shooter, connected.

It was a minor upset for Murphy, ranked No. 4 in The Herald’s preseason conference coaches’ poll. Second-rated Lakewood (3-1, 5-1) was previously unbeaten. Up next, Murphy plays No. 1 Cedarcrest Saturday; Lakewood plays at Coupeville.

In Thursday’s clash, players struggled to get traction on the water-logged grass field, which in spots resembled a swamp. The worst sections were in the center, where narrow, lengthwise grooves filled with muddy water.

Lakewood dominated the first 30 minutes yet was behind 2-0 at the intermission. Murphy connected on both goals in the final 10 minutes.

Murphy’s first goal, scored by Alexis Magana (Ian Houts assist), came shortly after Lakewood missed a great scoring chance. Lakewood’s Evander Ochoa rushed deep into Murphy’s penalty box and challenged Ehlebracht, who bobbled the ball. Hawkins knocked a close-range shot in for an apparent 1-0 Lakewood lead. But an official ruled Ochoa interfered with Murphy’s keeper. About 75 seconds later, Magana scored.

Murphy took a 2-0 lead with about 3 minutes to go in the half when Schmidt broke free on the left side and blasted a shot to the left half of the goal mouth.

In between Murphy’s goals, Lakewood had another oh-so-close attack. Brandon Ochoa crushed a long kick that nailed the cross bar and caromed down without crossing the goal line. Evander Ochoa was unable to make a rebound shot.

Lakewood roared back though and won the second half 2-0, forcing overtime. Evander Ochoa cut the deficit to 2-1, scoring on a penalty kick. Grant Bacus tied it on a goal with 4 minutes, 30 seconds to go. He nearly tied it with 13:30 remaining but Ehlebracht made a diving save at the left post.

Lakewood had more top-notch scoring chances, but the Cougars still walked away with a defeat. It didn’t help that senior Evander Ochoa, Lakewood’s all-conference first team forward, missed the overtime sessions and the shootout after aggravating an ankle injury late in the second half.

“He’s kind of day to day. We’ll see what happens,” Lakewood coach Vaughn Vandelac said.

Despite some key officiating calls he disagreed with and a few tough-luck bounces, Vandelac was mostly pleased with his squad’s showing.

“Probably one of the better games we’ve played,” he said. “We came back and didn’t let it get to us.”

Mike Cane: Check out the prep sports blog Double Team at

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