‘Cats will try to find a way in tough league

  • By Tony Dondero Enterprise reporter
  • Friday, April 4, 2008 1:05pm

In the tough Cascade Conference, the Archbishop Murphy boys soccer team will attempt to keep pace in 2008.

The Wildcats return nine starters off last year’s squad, which finished in a fourth-place tie with King’s in the league.

Cedarcrest is the favorite in the league, followed by Lakewood, Sultan and King’s, programs with significant postseason experience.

“The Cascade League is a good league,” sixth-year coach Jon Echols said. “Every year it’s competitive. I enjoy the challenge of playing against all these good teams.”

The Wildcats boast a solid group of senior leaders that form the core of the team.

“I think for us having a lot of senior leadership our goals are pretty high,” Echols said. “We’re definitely not conceding anything to Cedarcrest. We’re looking at trying to finish in that top two or three teams.”

Archbishop Murphy fields a tough defense led by senior center defender Tyler Allen. “He’s very quick and physical he’s a ball-winner in the middle of the field,” Echols said.

Senior sweeper James Huard also shores up the back line.

“It’s always good to have experience at the sweeper position,” Echols said. “He’s played it before for us. He has a lot of understanding of how to organize the defense.”

Juniors Sterling Hoza and Russel Stiegler play on the outside on defense.

“Those guys give us toughness and speed back there to mark up some of these great forwards in our league,” Echols said.

At goalkeeper, the Wildcats’ have Doug Ehlebracht, who has played well subbing for the for big, athletic senior Jeff Renslo, who broke an ankle and is expected back in two to three weeks.

“He’s very capable, a good backup,” Echols said of Ehlebracht. “He’s done a good job for us.”

When he returns, Renslo will bring a senior leader’s mentality to the team.

“He’s very vocal back there,” Echols said. “That’s good to have a goalkeeper that takes charge.”

In the midfield, the Wildcats have senior Kyle Ryan in the center.

“He’s the distributor, the guy we look to get us going offensively,” Echols said.

On the outside, the Wildcats have senior Elijah Wright, who transferred from O’Dea last year and had to spend a year at junior varsity. Wright has two goals so far to lead the team and is a “cross country kid who run all day,” Echols said.

At forward, AJ Manry, who led the team in goals last year, returns. Manry has been slowed a bit by having his wisdom teeth pulled at the start of the season but is starting to find a groove now.

“He works really, really hard,” Echols said. “He doesn’t give up on anything. As a result he was able to score quite a few goals for us last year.”

Archbishop Murphy started the season 2-2 in the league, which includes losses to Cedarcrest, a team that boasts speed and has almost everybody back, and King’s, the Class 1A runner-up that has almost everybody back as well.

“We struggle a little bit against them,” Echols said. “We need to learn to challenge from the beginning and work hard from the beginning. I don’t think we’re going to beat anybody with speed or quickness. We’re going to have to win balls out of the air.”

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