The Cheney girls soccer team’s run toward a state title came to an end Saturday.
Credit the powerful offense of unbeaten Archbishop Murphy for that.
The Wildcats used an aggressive offensive attack to score two first-half goals en route to a 2-0 victory over the Blackhawks in the State 2A championship match at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup, Wash.
“This obviously wasn’t the outcome we were hoping for, but I am still extremely proud of this team,” Cheney coach Robyn Smith said. “We just hadn’t seen a team this year the caliber of Archbishop Murphy.”
The Blackhawks, who hadn’t dropped a match since losing 1-0 to Pullman on Sept. 15, ended their season with a 20-2 record. Archbishop Murphy, which won its second state title in the last four years, finished 23-0.
Archbishop Murphy immediately went on the offensive attack and had already taken two corner kicks before the match was 4 minutes old.
“This was new territory for us,” Smith said. “We came out and were back on our heals from the start. I think we were just a little shell-shocked.”
At the sixth minute Cheney goalkeeper Nora Ifft, despite colliding with Archbishop Murphy’s Maddy Huggins, turned away a Sam Pettinger shot from 10 yards out.
The Wildcats’ frenzy continued as Cheney defender Tanya Baker twice kicked away point-blank shots on goal by Archbishop Murphy players.
The Wildcats found the back of the net at the 12-minute mark when Pettinger worked the ball on the left baseline before passing to an oncoming Huggins. She kicked it past Izzt, giving Archbishop Murphy a 1-0 lead.
It marked the first goal Cheney had surrendered in the last 11 games and just the fifth on the season.
The Blackhawks had outscored their opponents 46-0 the previous 10 matches, including holding a 12-0 advantage in goals scored during their first three state playoff games.
Cheney attempted to turn up the offensive intensity after trailing for the first time in 20 matches. Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, so did the Wildcats.
Ifft twice punched away dangerous shots in the final 5 minutes of the first half. But she was couldn’t get a handle on Alli Beard’s penalty kick with 13 seconds left in the first half, which gave Archbishop Murphy a comfortable 2-0 lead at the intermission.
“Nora played great for us. She had some huge saves,” Smith said. “It took us a while to settle down before we got comfortable out there. Getting that PK right before the half really hurt us.”
Five minutes into the second half it appeared as if the Blackhawks would get on the scoreboard, but Kellie Zakrzewski’s free kick from 30 yards out grazed the crossbar, preserving the Archbishop Murphy shutout.
“That was just unlucky,” Smith said about Zakrzewski’s miss. “I thought it was going in. I was very proud of how we played in the second half. Archbishop Murphy is a very good team and to go 0-0 with them in the second half shows what type of team we are. The team continued to fight even though we were down and never gave up.”
•State 2B/1B boys: Northwest Christian (6-12-1) fell to La Conner 3-1 in the third-place game at Sunset Chev Stadium at Sumner, Wash.