SUMNER — Archbishop Murphy moved one step closer to a three-peat as state champion with a 5-2 victory over Cascade Conference rival Cedarcrest in a 2A state semifinal soccer game Friday night.
The victory marked the third time the Wildcats (21-0) took down the Redwolves this season, but Murphy didn’t put up the dominant performance that has been the status quo for the entire season.
“I think the biggest thing is that they’ve improved every time they’ve played us,” Murphy coach Mike Bartley said of the Red Wolves. “They were really good in the beginning of the game. We were frustarated … It was nice to see the character of our team come through because we’ve never been in that situation.”
For the first time all season Muphry trailed in a game after Cedarcrest’s Chase Bolin scored in the fifth minute — marking the first time the Red Wolves scored on the Wildcats in over 160 minutes of play this season.
Cedarcrest (19-4-1) held the lead for most of the first half, but Murphy tied it up on a Matt Williams penalty kick in the 34th minute and grabbed the lead on another goal by Williams just before half.
“It just turned the momentum of the game,” Bartley said.
Early in the second half the Wildcats pushed their lead to 3-1 on a Sam Johnson goal. Cedarcrest wouldn’t go away though, answering back with a goal of their by Thomas Burgess just three minutes later — the first time Murphy had allowed to goals all season.
The heat played a factor late, as Murphy’s players began cramping late and the team had to turn to its bench according to Bartley.
Two Mitchell Love goals in the 74th minute and stoppage time helped the Wildcats pull away late.
The Wildcats match up with East Valley in a rematch of both team’s season opener — a 1-0 Wildcats win — in the 2A state championship Saturday at 5 p.m. at Sunset Chevrolet Field in Sumner.
Class 2A semifinals East Valley Yakima 1, M. Terrace 0
The Hawks and Red Devils battled to a scoreless draw after 90 minutes of regulation and extra time, and penalty kicks were required to determine which team would advance to face Archbishop Murphy for the state championship Saturday at 5 p.m.
Each team made its first 10 shootout attempts before the Red Devils made a save and converted the final penalty kick to earn the victory.