The theory being practiced by the Archbishop Murphy girls soccer team may not be too creative, but it sure is effective.
It works like this: Don’t allow any goals and win.
On Nov. 3, that simplistic approach resulted in the Wildcats’ 16th shutout in 19 tries this season, as they defeated Burlington-Edison 1-0 to capture the Class 2A District 1 championship at Bellingham Civic Stadium.
The defending state champions, who have outscored their opponents by a combined 99-3 this season, improved to 19-0 with the win.
“Our keeper really made some key saves,” Murphy head coach Dick Henderson said. “In spite of how we thought we played, missing some opportunities, we still ended up winning. And that’s the sign of a good team that can do that.”
The Wildcats’ defense held Burlington-Edison to just seven shots on goal. That meant goalkeeper Julie Connelly was forced to make only three saves, although one of them may have been the play of the game. Four minutes into the second half, with the game still scoreless, the Tigers got a good look at the net and booted a strong shot. Connelly, though, made a spectacular diving save to keep the shutout intact.
Six minutes later, Archbishop-Murphy scored the only goal of the contest. Freshman Caroline Brawner scooped up a loss ball near the sideline, made a great move on a defender, and rifled a shot in from 15 yards away. The shot actually hit the goalkeeper in the hands, but bounced off and into the net.
With the Wildcats’ defense performing so confidently, that one goal sealed the deal. Burlington-Edison’s lone threat was on a free kick from 25 yards out that was easily stopped by Connelly.
“We have a saying, ‘Just move on.’ That’s all you need to do in athletics, whether it be by a 10-0 score or 1-0,” Henderson said. “Obviously, we want to win more comfortably, but we still got the win.”
Ryan Piersol writes for The Herald in Everett.