By Chris Trujillo
AUBURN – A second-half free kick and the gutsy play of Overlake freshman Mallory Nelson catapulted the Owls to a 1-0 victory over Archbishop Murphy Friday in the A/B state semifinals at Auburn Memorial Stadium.
Overlake senior Ashley Fisk, who took the free kick after teammate Laura Uhlmansiek was tripped up on her way to the goal, fired a hard liner 35 yards past Archbishop Murphy goalkeeper Alicia Bourke in the 54th minute to score the eventual game-winning goal.
Archbishop Murphy (11-4-1), will play the loser between Cedar Park Christian and Brewster today at noon. The winner will earn third place and the loser, fourth. Overlake improved to 13-1-3 and will play for the state championship at 2 p.m.
“We just lost it in the second half,” Archbishop Murphy coach Pat Jack said. “They were so much more aggressive than us. I think it was pretty even in the first half, but we lost control in the second half.”
The Wildcats’ leading scorer Kat Taylor (22 goals) was held to just one shot, thanks mostly to the sturdy defense of Nelson, who shadowed Taylor the entire night. Archbishop Murphy had already entered the game at a disadvantage with the absence of team captain Lindsay Shandera,
“It was a big problem. We were missing our captain and they found a way to slow down Kat,” Jack said. “We had players playing positions they have never played before.”
How big was the defensive play of Nelson? In games where Taylor scores, the team is a sterling 11-1. When she doesn’t, the Wildcats are 1-3-1. The Wildcats, who rarely got the ball past midfield in the second half, got off just one shot in the final 40 minutes.
“They put their fastest player on me,” Taylor said. “We’ve never played this team before so we really didn’t know what to expect. It was a new game and new challenge.”
Archbishop Murphy pressured the Owls’ territory early in the first half, spending nearly 16 minutes on the attack, but could only manage one shot on goal.
Conversely, the Owls spent majority of the remaining time inside the Wildcats’ zone. Archbishop Murphy goalkeeper Lindsay Krell made three saves as the Wildcats fought off the only three legitimate scoring opportunities in the first half.