Murray Spartans Show Spark in the Preseason
Junior varsity team during halftime cheer.
By Sarah Almond
Hard work and positivity are the foundation for Murray High School’s girls soccer team. After three grueling tryout sessions over four days, 33 girls were chosen to represent Murray on the Spartans’ soccer team.
With more than 60 girls competing for a spot on the team, head coach Brady Smith and assistant coaches Matt Ostler, Ned Serale and Tod Bengtzon had a variety of skills and players to appoint for this year’s group.
“It’s been a three-year building process,” Smith said, “but we’ve got a really great group of girls this year.”
Smith, a Utah native, has been coaching the Murray girls soccer team since 2012. He was born and raised in the Cache Valley area and played midfield on the Westminster mens soccer team from 2000 to 2003. Smith has an extensive soccer background in the community and coached at West High School for four years before making the transition to Murray.
“I like the bigger community here,” Smith said. “We have a lot of great support.”
With the majority of the players entering their freshmen and sophomore years, the Spartans have a young team this season. However, both the coaching staff and the upperclassmen agree that the team is looking stronger than ever.
“We are a little deeper in depth this year,” Smith said. “We are strong on offense and can score goals at any time, but our biggest challenge is defense. We really need some athletic enforcers.”
Though the team is young and the program is still building, the group’s positive attitude and hard-working mentality make them a threat for their 4A competitors, such as rival Olympus High School.
“Our group is meshing really well,” Senior Kara Harris said. “We are working hard and really enjoying playing soccer. As upperclassmen we are trying to set a good example for the younger girls. We really want everyone to enjoy it and have fun.”
The group is already suffering some setbacks, however, in the form of injuries. Between shoulder injuries, ACL tears and broken ankles, the group has already lost several solid players.
“We have a pretty strong chance of making it to State,” Smith said. “Our group is extremely hardworking and positive. We just have to stay healthy.”
Division 4A State Championships begin in late October. If the team qualifies, they will be battling it out in nearly 20 games this season. When considering the dedication and enthusiasm this group has for soccer, the possibility of them making it to State is very strong.
“Our younger girls are really hard workers,” senior captain Lizzy Braby said. “They have really good touch on the ball and a really strong work ethic.”
Braby is one of just five seniors on this year’s team and, along with being a role model for the underclassmen, she has outstanding leadership on the field. In 49 games, Braby has scored a total of 34 career goals. She recently secured a scholarship to play on the BYU womens soccer team in 2016 and is definitely a player to watch for this season.
The team has been running two-a-day practices since Aug. 5 to prepare for the challenging season ahead. Their first conference game was held at Skyline High School on Tuesday, Sept. 1 at 3:30 p.m.
They dominated their first non-conference game 5-1 against Westlake on Wednesday, Aug. 12.