Murray soccer season leads to region championship, No. 1 ranking
Jun 01, 2017 10:18AM ● Published by Travis Barton
The Murray High School soccer team suffered only one loss during their regular season. (Murray Soccer Facebook)
Gallery: Murray soccer season leads to region championship, No. 1 ranking [5 Images] Click any image to expand.
It’s good to be No. 1. That’s the old saying. But it didn’t prove to be the case for the Murray High School soccer team on May 2.
That morning, as the only still undefeated 4A soccer team in the state, The Deseret News finally ranked them No. 1.
That afternoon the Spartans lost their only game of the regular season to arch-rival Olympus, 1-0.
And the next week, Skyridge High—a newly opened school in Lehi—jumped to the top spot, even though they had a loss and a tie, while Murray had just the single loss.
“That loss was a sad moment… but also kind of a good thing,” said senior Spartan Tanner Erekson. “We were starting to feel the pressure of our undefeated record. It was good to get it over with before the playoffs.”
The Class 4A state tournament began just after this paper’s deadline and is now over. Murray bounced back from their lone loss with three victories over Cyprus, Skyline and Judge Memorial to wrap up their fifth Region 6 soccer title in seven seasons. The Spartans finished the season with a 15-2 record after being upset by Orem in the first round.
Spartan head coach Brian DeMann has been the head soccer coach for 14 seasons. Just before his arrival, Murray claimed the state soccer title in 2001. Five years ago, they lost the state championship game to rival Olympus.
“We have a total of 36 players on our varsity and JV teams, with 12 of them seniors,” DeMann added. “I would say four to six of them are all-state caliber. If any of them went down with an injury, we would face a big challenge.”
One Spartan who has received a lot of attention this season is senior Beamer Wilcken, who was named a “MountainStar Healthcare Star Athlete of the Week.” He has scored multiple goals in several games.
“Beamer gets a lot of credit, as he should,” DeMann said. “But he also scores a lot because we have him in position to do that. Just as important are defenseman Tanner Erekson and keeper (goalie) Javi Vierya. They are critical to our success as well.”
The coach also cited Sam Osorio as a key member of the team, even though he is just a sophomore.
The Murray soccer team has had only two head coaches in its more than 40-year history.
“Three of my sons played for coach Bill Forrest, who started the Murray High School program (in the mid-1970s) after moving here from Scotland,” DeMann said.
When Forrest announced his retirement in 2002, DeMann took over and has never looked back. One of his key assistant coaches is Steve Christensen, who is a physical therapist in his “real job.”
“Coach Brian (DeMann) gives me a lot of freedom,” Christensen said. “Part of my job is to be a sports psychologist. I enjoy working with the kids.”
Christensen has had two sons play for DeMann and has a ninth-grade daughter who played on the Spartan girls’ soccer team last fall.
“We are definitely a soccer family,” he added. “Years ago, my wife Carla went before the school board to petition to play on her Granger High School boys soccer team.”
Erekson said the year has been a success.
“Sometimes we make a few dumb mistakes, which can really cost us,” he said. “But most of the time we play pretty well. I love my teammates. Most of us seniors have played together since about age 10. It’s been a lot of fun.”
The Murray soccer team entered the state tournament with plenty of momentum. In their final home game of the regular season, the Spartans scored the most goals they have all year, in an 8-1 victory.
That was also “Senior Night,” where the team’s 12th graders honored their mothers with special bracelets to show their appreciation.