The goal is clear for the Archbishop Murphy High School girls soccer team this season.
The Wildcats have their eyes set on making a deep postseason run and playing for a Class 2A state title in November.
“We want this really bad,” senior forward Taylor Campbell said. “We’ve wanted it, us seniors, since freshman year when we got a taste of state. … We want to win it. We want to show everybody how hard we work and that we are the best in the state for 2A.”
At this point, the team has done all it can to prove its capable of achieving its goal.
The red-hot Wildcats have raced out to an 11-0-0 record this fall while outscoring opponents by a whopping 56 goals (59 to 3). They’ve scored four or more goals eight times, posted seven shutouts and won 10 games by three scores or more.
“Those numbers are what really show you how well we’ve been doing and how hard we’ve been working,” senior midfielder Reeve Borseth said.
The Wildcats are in first place in Wesco 3A/2A with 33 points thanks to their 11 league wins. They hold a commanding six-point lead over second-place Shorewood. In the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association RPI Rankings, Murphy is fifth in 2A.
Wildcats coach Mike Bartley said this season’s success can be attributed to his squad’s experience, work ethic and impressive depth.
“Our team works extremely hard in training and preparation,” Bartley said. “It’s just amazing how hard they work. They push me. I’m the one scrambling to get them every detail about what team we play, how we want to play, how we approach the game. They’re just making me a better coach.”
Murphy has seven seniors this season. Six are four-year varsity players. That core group is surrounded by four three-year varsity juniors and a strong freshman class. They’ve combined for an all-around team effort that’s seen 14 different players score at least one goal and three reach 10. Senior forward Jordyn Latta has a team-best 13 goals and senior forward Jo Chiangpradit and junior midfielder Cameron Bourne have 10. The Wildcats also have 10 different players who have recorded an assist, led by Latta’s 13, Chiangpradit’s 12 and Campbell’s 10.
“We work together and know our style of play because we’ve played together for four years now most of us,” Chiangpradit said. “… It’s not just one person dominating because we want the success for everybody to be exactly the same. We’re not selfish. We prioritize each other’s goals as well.”
The defensive numbers are just as impressive. Murphy’s three goals allowed ranks No. 1 in Wesco 3A/2A with the nearest team allowing four times as many goals. It’s also been a team effort in goal with seniors Allie Williams and Alex Ross splitting time in front of the net.
“I’m really proud of our back line and just everyone on the defensive end,” senior defender Jessie Killian said. “I think when we’re defending behind the ball that everybody just gives it a lot of effort.”
Bartley, who began coaching girls and boys soccer at Murphy in 2012, said he hasn’t had this type of depth on his girls teams before. He said it compares to the type of depth his boys squads, which won three straight state titles from 2014-16, had.
“We’ve been building for this, and everybody — knock on wood — is healthy right now,” Bartley said. “So it looks really good. I’m very proud of them. They’ve worked really hard for this. This isn’t just something that happened overnight. It’s taken a few years to build towards this. It’s their hard work and it’s paying off now. I’m really gifted with some great people as well as players.”
This season’s girls team hopes its past postseason experience will help them emulate the type of success the boys program had in its state championship runs.
When Murphy’s seniors were freshmen in 2018, the Wildcats finished third in their first season in Wesco and made the first round of the state playoffs. They then got a taste of adversity in the 2019 2A Northwest District tournament. Murphy was eliminated after going 1-2 against a brutal slate that featured 2018 state champion Liberty, 2018 state runner-up Sehome and top-seeded Lynden.
Campbell said that was a learning moment for the then-young Wildcats.
“Nothing comes easy with playing teams that have been to state and played for the state title. They had the experience. They knew what they were playing for,” she said. “Now that we have that experience, we’re ready to go far. We know what’s ahead of us. We know who’s the best and how we can play our best to match them.”
Murphy went 7-0-1 in the shortened season this spring and was left to wonder what could have been if the coronavirus pandemic hadn’t put a halt to all postseason play. But players said it’s also added more motivation to do well in the postseason this time around.
“I think with that hunger we’re gonna go after every game like we’re playing the best team ever,” Campbell said.