DUVALL - Jeff Scavotto was likely an afterthought on the scouting report for the District 1/2 2A boys soccer championship game.
Saturday's game at Cedarcrest Stadium seemed like it would be decided by Josh Bartley or Jalen Crisler on the Archbishop Murphy side or Brad Dale or Emile Diffley on the Bellingham side. Maybe Red Raider keeper Auden Schilder, who will play at the University of Washington in the fall, would decide the outcome.
Instead Scavotto's right hand was the difference after 80 minutes of regulation and 10 minutes of overtime. The Wildcats junior keeper made what proved to be the game-winning save in the fifth round of a shootout to give Murphy a 3-2 victory (5-4 PKs) and its third consecutive district crown.
"It feels amazing," said Scavotto who started the season as the backup, but was in goal for Murphy's two shootout losses this season. "I knew our guys were going to make the shots and I just had to do my part for the win."
Bellingham (17-1-1) suffered its first loss of the season and receives the district's No. 2 seed, sending them on the road to face District 3 No. 2 seed North Kitsap in the first round of the 2A State Playoffs. The time and date for that game have not yet been announced.
Scavotto saved the first Red Raiders attempt and the last in the shutout. All the Wildcats made their chances, except Bartley who pushed his wide right.
The final save was a special one as the stout Murphy keeper guessed wrong, diving to his left, but shot up his right hand to keep Nick Bippley's shot out of the net.
"I was like, 'I'm getting this no matter what,'" Scavotto said of Bippley's try.
Freshman Parker Buchanan calmly stepped up and drilled the ensuing attempt in the net to send Murphy to the 2A State Playoffs as a No. 1 seed.
Immediately after the game, Red Raider coach Matt Zigulis set his and the team's sights on a rematch, which could only come in the championship game at Sunset Chevrolet Stadium in Sumner in two weeks.
"I hope so," Zigulis said. "That's the plan. We want this one back. We want to see them again and that's our goal now."
After a slow start and 1-0 deficit, the Red Raiders seemingly had control of the game as they controlled the Northwest Conference all season. With a two-goal outburst over a five-minute span than bridged halftime, Bellingham was cruising.
But Bartley and Crisler did what they have all season and for their Wildcat careers.
Every time Bartley touches the ball, he is swarmed by three defenders, making it hard for even the fancy-footworking senior to move let alone control the ball. But the Wildcats captain still finds a way to impact the game.
A nifty play by Bartley in 60th minute earned a corner kick. With Bartley as a decoy, Christian Thode bent the ensuing kick into the box, where Crisler rose above the Red Raiders defense and headed the ball over the hand of Schilder.
"It was funny," Murphy coach and Josh's dad Mike Bartley said. "The first half of the season (Crisler) was missing the ball over the top and he focused on putting the ball low. He's turned such a corner that now he's such a force and the funny thing is they are trying to mark him with three or four guys and they still can't."
"He's got like 20 goals and he plays holding midfielder. It's all restarts."
The opening act to the championship hosted by Cedarcrest High School, was also a shootout won by Sedro Woolley over Sammamish for the district's third and final 2A state bid. This extended game delayed the start of the final by about 45 minutes, which seemed to hurt the Red Raiders more than the Wildcats.
"It was kind of awkward with the game before us going long," Zigulis said. "We got caught in warm-ups. It took a while to get our feet moving and to get a feel for the game."
Just 19 minutes into the game Bartley took a throw in 15 yards from the Cedarcrest goal and tossed a well-placed ball into the goalie box, where Crisler flicked it past Schilder with a header.
But once they got their feet moving it was easy to see why the Red Raiders were undefeated entering the game.
With less than a minute to go in the first half, a seemingly meaningless foul 40 yards from the Murphy goal gave the Red Raiders a free kick. Crisler cleared the Red Raiders lob into the box, but Jacob Feingold gathered the rebound and flipped it to Christian Mittet. The freshman forward turned his head to the far post and evened the score at 1-1.
Fueled by the late-half goal confidence boost, the Red Raiders brimmed with aggression and energy to start the second half. Scavotto had a great save in the 42nd minute for Murphy, but couldn't get in front of the shot by Brad Dale in the 44th minute. Conlon Kiffney tallied the assist.
Mike Bartley couldn't have been happier after the game knowing that, as a long-time prep coach in the area for both boys and girls teams, his teams are 4-for-4 making it to the state semifinals when they enter the tourney as a No. 1 seed. He thinks playing at Everett Memorial Stadium next week will be key on the team's journey striving for a state crown.
"When you are on the road, anything can happen," the Wildcat coach said. "To play in front of the school and the parents; the boys feed off that."
LYNCS ANNOUNCES GAME TIME
Lynden Christian athletic direct Curt DeHaan announced that LC will face Seton Catholic in the first round of the Class 1A State Playoffs at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14, at Civic Stadium.