TUMWATER – It had been three years since a girls soccer team from Tumwater High School played in the state tournament, so some nerves were to be expected.
Unfortunately for this year’s team, it took a little too long for the T-Birds to calm those nerves, and by then it was too late.
Tumwater fell behind early and had no remedy for Archbishop Murphy, losing to the Wildcats, 6-1, in a Class 2A first-round state tournament game Tuesday night at Tumwater District Stadium.
The Wildcats scored in the fifth minute, getting a goal from Shelby Koch at point-blank range. Less than one minute later, Archbishop Murphy senior Brooke Busch lofted a free kick into the upper right corner past freshman goalkeeper Mackenzie Bergquist from about 35 yards out, pushing the lead to 2-0.
“We were kind of (like a) deer in the headlights for a lot of it,” Tumwater third-year coach Brett Bartlett said. “They got a couple of early ones and we were kind of shocked a little bit.”
Archbishop Murphy (20-1) kept the offensive pressure on the T-Birds, outshooting Tumwater, 12-2, in the first half.
Tumwater, which entered the contest having won seven of its previous eight games, had considerable trouble generating any kind of push on offense as goalkeeper Anna Whitehouse needed to make a play on only one shot.
“They have a lot of tournament experience,” Bartlett said of the Wildcats. “They brought the game to us, and they were really clean today. When we watched them before, they weren’t. And we’re usually a very clean team and we weren’t.”
The Wildcats, who average 25 shots on goal per game, added to their lead in the second half when Koch converted on a pair of penalty shots, the second coming after the T-Birds were whistled for a handball in the penalty area.
Freshman Claire Feeney scored in the 63rd minute for Archbishop Murphy, and Busch tacked on another in the 73rd minute.
“The goal in the second half was to try to take longer shots and put more pressure on the keeper and see if anything would come from that,” Archbishop Murphy coach Mike Bartley said. “They were trying to focus on some of our key people, and I moved the key people around so they were a little bit off with how they were matching up.”
Selesha Harrah scored the lone goal for Tumwater (11-8) in the 76th minute.
“We had some super great seniors; just amazing kids,” Bartlett said. “From a leadership and technical standpoint, that really brought everything together for us. They were critical for us, and our younger kids really learned a lot from them. The younger kids have an expectation now that this is where we should be. They enjoyed the process of getting here, so now we have to repeat that.”