EVERETT — The Archbishop Murphy boys soccer team has adopted a business-like approach to the 2017 season.
The Wildcats didn’t celebrate very much after they won the Cascade Conference regular-season title. They didn’t celebrate after winning the 2A District 1/2 tournament championship, either. “We’ll celebrate after four more wins,” Archbishop Murphy’s players told their coach, Michael Bartley. It’s understandable that their expectations are high — they are the two-time defending 2A state champions after all.
“We’re a lot more mature (this year),” Wildcats forward Matt Williams said Tuesday after his team’s 40th straight victory, a 6-1 win over Grandview in a first-round 2A state tournament contest at Terry Ennis Stadium. “(Our success) is due to how we handle ourselves in practice. We have a professional attitude. I think we’re the most confident team in the state.”
But the Wildcats have had a lot of fun along the way, too.
“They enjoy being around each other,” Bartley said. “They have great chemistry because a lot of them have been playing together since the sixth grade. This is a family. They care a lot about each other.”
Archbishop Murphy’s dominance of this season is best illustrated in its goal differential: an almost unfathomable 86. The Wildcats have scored 91 goals and allowed just five.
“Our offense starts with our outside backs and outside mids,” said Williams, the Wildcats’ leading scorer. “We attack with eight players instead of three, which creates overwhelming pressure for a defense to handle. Our defense is disciplined and mature, and we have a phenomenal goalkeeper (Daniel Mycroft). Those guys have high soccer IQs to go along with their athletic ability.”
Archbishop Murphy received offense from a variety of players Tuesday, including Williams (two goals, one assist), Isaac Feeney (two goals, three assists), Chase Whittaker (one goal) and Sam Johnson (one goal). The Wildcats will next play host to Kingston in a state quarterfinal game to be held Thursday, Friday or Saturday.
Archbishop Murphy’s success shouldn’t come as any surprise — its roster features 13 seniors and 10 returning starters.
“Our goal is to get back to the final four and win the title again,” Bartley said. “They’re working hard and focusing (on that goal), because they don’t want to miss that opportunity.”
“We’ve planned on getting back (to the state title game),” Williams said. “We’re motivated because we’ve been there before, and (winning) is a sweet feeling. And for a lot of us, this is our last hurrah, and we want to go out on top. It’s been a good ride, and there would be no better way to end a perfect three-year run.”