Cougs play the heavy

EVERETT — With 10 minutes left in a crucial Cascade Conference soccer game on Archbishop Murphy’s field, a low, ground-level fog crept over the Lakewood side of Archbishop Murphy’s soccer field the way it would in a horror movie.

For the fans and parents of the Wildcats, who came to send off

the Murphy senior class Thursday night, the Cougars played the villains as they invaded Wildcats territory and beat the home team 1-0.

Lakewood’s sideline, on the other hand, erupted in cheers with the final whistle, celebrating the program’s first-ever win against Murphy (9-4 league, 11-4 overall) during regulation.

“It was a big one. I’m not gonna lie,” Lakewood coach Jeremiah Wohlgemuth said. “It was big because we knew the implications.”

Entering the night Lakewood had won three-straight regular season contests against the Wildcats, but all came in shootouts and all on the shoulders of star goal keeper Miranda Head. This win means the Cougars are just a victory over Coupeville (0-12, 1-12) from clinching second place and the second seed into the district playoffs that begin next weekend. The second seed plays at home, while the third seed travels to play a Northwest League opponent.

“That boosts our confidence a lot,” Head said. “Against the tougher teams, we’ve had some difficulty scoring.

“To sweep them two years in a row, is a huge deal for Lakewood.”

The Cougars got the game’s lone goal relatively quickly in the 21st minute. Hailey Duitsman floated a shot over Murphy keeper Anna Whitehouse, who had no chance. Wohlgemuth had just juggled his lineup two minutes before the goal, inserting sophomore Shantel St. Jean into the right forward position.

“I leaned down the bench to her … and said, ‘Have you ever played wing?’ said Wohlgemuth. “And she reluctantly said, ‘Yeah.’ She’s just a prototypical wing, but we haven’t really played her out there. She’s just got a rocket leg.”

On her first touch of the game, St. Jean took a breakaway down the right sideline and crossed to Duitsman for the finish.

“I was freaking out,” said sophomore Duitsman. “Because this is only my third time scoring, so it’s a big deal against Murphy.”

Head survived a barrage of shots for the rest of the evening as Murphy struggled to find the equalizer. The Lakewood keeper went down after suffering a kick to the head in the 29th minute, laying face down on the grass for two minutes. After the trainer checked her for signs of concussion, she returned to finish the game and keep Murphy off the scoreboard.

“We’ve got a good group,” Murphy coach Shannon Murray said. “We play hard. We play good soccer. We can’t for some reason get one to fall against this particular group, so one of these days it’s going to happen. For us tonight it didn’t happen.”

The Wildcats started the season on a win streak and looked like the favorite to win the Cascade Conference until Lakewood’s 5-3 penalty kick win Sept. 29. Since then Murphy has gone 3-3 with one total goal scored during the losses. They will likely be the league’s third seed in the district tourney next week.

“We just couldn’t get the last piece of the puzzle which is to put one in the back of the net and it’s frustrating,” Murray said. “When that does happen we are going to be rolling people.”

Murphy started 10 of its 12 seniors in the field and junior Whitehouse in goal. Seniors Sammy Mifflin and Ellie Hoban didn’t play because they are out for the season with injuries. All were recognized as part of the senior night pregame ceremony.

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