Murphy notches state berth

BELLINGHAM — Despite advancing to the 2A girls soccer state playoffs Tuesday evening, Archbishop Murphy’s post-game sideline didn’t exactly erupt in a frenzied celebration.

Not that the Wildcats failed to turn in a playoff-worthy effort. No, it was more about a little something called unfinished business.

The defending state champions got a pair of goals from junior Brittany Allen and another gritty defensive effort in a 2-0 defeat of Bellingham at Civic Stadium. The victory puts the Wildcats (18-0 overall) into Saturday’s District 1 championship tilt and automatically into the state playoffs.

But, for Archbishop Murphy, all it really meant was one step closer to the only goal the Wildcats really care for — that of another state title.

“We’re pretty focused right now,” sophomore Sammi Pettinger said. “We’re still having a lot of fun in practice, but we know when it’s time to go get the job done. And we have a ways to go.”

Archbishop Murphy is scheduled to take on the Sehome-Burlington-Edison winner at 3 p.m. Saturday for the district title. Both the winner and loser of that game advance to state.

Allen’s goals were her 12th and 13th of the season. The first came early in the first half and the second in the final minute of the second half.

In between were a large number of missed opportunities by the Wildcats and an even larger number of Bellingham rallies thwarted by a tough Archbishop Murphy defense.

“Yeah, we missed some opportunities,” Wildcats’ head coach Dick Henderson said. “We missed a penalty kick and we hit the cross bar on another one. But, I mean, that’s just part of the game. Those kinds of things are going to happen. You just have to know how to win on nights like those.

“(Bellingham’s) a pretty mature and experienced team, so I knew there would be a lot of leadership and a lot of maturity out there. I expected it to be hard.”

The Raiders entered the contest having shut out half of their opponents on the season. Archbishop Murphy, though, quickly made sure it wasn’t going to be added to that list by scoring in the fourth minute. Allen booted the goal in from 5 yards out, after receiving a nice pass from Pettinger, to make it 1-0.

Before the half finished, the Wildcats put up nine more shots on goal, yet came away empty each time. Melissa von der Hofen even managed to line up a penalty kick that was saved by Bellingham goalkeeper Ann Hoag.

All those missed chances seemed to rejuvenate the Raiders in the second half. They forced Alexa Hughes to make seven second-half saves and all but took the Wildcats’ offense out of the game. That is, until Allen broke free one more time, knocking through the game-clinching goal with less than a minute to play.

“We’re getting everyone’s best shot right now. We realize that,” Allen said. “But that also makes it feel so much better when we win.”

Winning has been easy much of the season for 18-0 Archbishop Murphy. Even though it wasn’t in this one, Henderson said his team will benefit greatly.

“We could’ve used some games like this during the season,” he said. “We should be glad to have the opportunity to play in a game like this, because you’re going to have to win games like this to go through the playoffs.”

At Bellingham Civic Stadium

Goals—Archbishop Murphy: Allen 2. Assists—Archbishop Murphy: Pettinger. Goalkeepers—Archbishop Murphy: Hughes. Bellingham: Hoag. Records—Archbishop Murphy 18-0 overall. Bellingham 14-3.

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