Archbishop Murphy’s Jordyn Latta reverses her dribble against Columbia River’s Ava Lapinskas in the first half Friday night at Shoreline Stadium on November 19, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Archbishop Murphy’s Jordyn Latta reverses her dribble against Columbia River’s Ava Lapinskas in the first half Friday night at Shoreline Stadium on November 19, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Archbishop Murphy rallies into girls soccer state title tilt

Jordyn Latta scores twice as the Wildcats, who hadn’t trailed all season, advanced to face Hockinson.

SHORELINE — Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson famously said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

The Archbishop Murphy High School girls soccer team has been so dominant this season that no one had laid a finger on the Wildcats. But Friday night the Wildcats showed that when they take one on the chin, they can pick themselves up off the mat, dust themselves off and come back swinging.

Archbishop Murphy rallied from a second-half deficit courtesy of a pair of Jordyn Latta goals, and the Wildcats’ dream season stayed alive as they defeated the Columbia River Rapids 2-1 in the Class 2A state semifinals at Shoreline Stadium.

“This is amazing,” Latta said. “I think after the first goal we got a little nervous, we got a little hesitant, but we pulled through. I’m so proud of this team, we put everything on the field and I’m so excited to see what we do tomorrow in the finals.”

Archbishop Murphy (22-0), the tournament’s No. 1 seed, advanced to face No. 7 Hockinson, which topped No. 3 Ridgefield 1-0 in Friday’s other semifinal, for the championship at 5 p.m. Saturday at Shoreline Stadium.

No. 5 Columbia River (18-4), the defending state champion, faces Ridgefield in the third-place game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Shoreline Stadium.

Archbishop Murphy came into the contest looking like an unstoppable juggernaut. The Wildcats outscored their opponents 115-7 in their first 21 games, they destroyed their first two state opponents by a combined score of 14-0, and they hadn’t trailed all season.

So when Columbia River’s Ava Lapinskas powered in a 25-yard free kick just under the crossbar in the 49th minute to give the Rapids a 1-0 lead, the Wildcats found themselves in uncharted territory.

To that point Archbishop Murphy hadn’t created a decent scoring chance, let alone scored a goal. But instead of panicking, the Wildcats changed tack and bore down. Archbishop Murphy coach Mike Bartley pushed an extra player into the attack, and the Wildcats slowly began exerting more pressure on the Columbia River goal.

Then in the 69th minute the Wildcats found the breakthrough. A retreating Reeve Borseth won the ball at the center line, immediately turned the other direction and found space to steam upfield. Borseth then fed the ball into the left channel for Latta, and Latta rifled a low shot into the far corner to knot the score at 1-1.

A minute later Lapinskas received another golden opportunity at a free kick, this time from 22 yards out, but this time the Archbishop Murphy wall managed to block the shot to keep the score tied.

Then the Wildcats conjured up the winner with less than five minutes remaining. A Poor Columbia River goal kick rolled right to Archbishop Murphy’s Jojo Chiangpradit about 30 yards out. Chiangpradit lofted a pass over the top of the defense and into the path of Latta streaking down the middle. Latta delicately lifted the ball over Columbia River goalkeeper Alia Rust, and though Rust tried to recover to keep the ball from crossing the goal line, it just bounced over to give the Wildcats the lead.

“The first one Reeve made an incredible pass to me, I opened up with my left foot and just put it right in the corner, so props to Reeve, that was a great assist,” Latta said. “Then on the second one it was another great assist by Jojo, she played it right over the top and all I had to do was chip the keeper. So amazing assists by both of them.”

There was still time for the Rapids to make a final push. Instead, it was the Wildcats who managed to keep the ball deep in the Rapids’ half of the field, and Archbishop Murphy marched to the championship game with no further drama.

“At first we had to get used to the speed of play, I think that was a big key,” Bartley said. “Once we started to match it, and then we went to gladiator, which is basically an all-out attack, and we got two goals back and fought back. We haven’t been behind all year, so the resilience in this team was just great. They played with their guts, their hearts, their heads and went for it at the end, and it paid dividends.”

The first half was a scrappy affair that saw little in the way of quality scoring chances foe either team. Archbishop Murphy had a half-chance in the 22nd minute when Rust fumbled a lofted ball right onto Chiangpradit’s head, but Rust held the ball on the second try. The Rapids’ most dangerous moment came in the 28th minute when Wildcats defender Brie Cote was required to cut out a dangerous cross. But for the most part neither team was able to grab control of the game as it remained scoreless at halftime.

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