Spartan’s Kick Off 2016 Soccer SeasonApr 07, 2016 03:19PM ● By Sarah Almond
By Sarah Almond | [email protected]
Murray - On Feb. 29, 76 boys from Murray High School laced up cleats, donned shin guards and demonstrated their skills in hopes of making the cut for the Spartan’s 2016 boys soccer team. After the two-day tryout process was over, just 35 boys were chosen to be members of this year’s team.
“Our numbers were actually a little down from past years,” Murray head coach Bryan Demann said. “We normally have about 80 to 85 boys show up for tryouts.”
The group has five returning varsity starters, along with several young players whom Demann has high hopes for this season.
“We’ve got some good young guys that have made good progress since last season,” Demann said. “Our younger JV guys I think will really contribute this year.”
From the start of the season, Demann was immediately impressed by the overall attitude of the team.
“The way that the guys get along has really stood out to me this year,” Demann said. “I don’t have any of the leading scorers back from last year, and I don’t have anybody that I really expect to step out and get their name in the paper every week. You know, the media likes to focus on the guys who get the ball in the back of the net, instead of all the guys who do all the work to get it there. And I’ve got the guys to get it there this year.”
Though Demann is confident that some players can—and will—score goals, he’s relying heavily on the team’s depth and athleticism to bring them success this season.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing how this group progresses,” Demann said. “There are some guys that are going to have to take different positions than they did last year, but what pleases me the most is their willingness to do whatever the team needs. I just think these guys are going to work hard to do it for each other. And that makes it fun; it makes it fun to watch and fun to coach.”
Demann also thinks the team has great ball-handling skills.
“They do a decent job of possessing the ball and passing it around, and I think they’ll work hard,” Demann said.
With a schedule that holds games against teams who have won the state title the past four years, the Spartans are going to have to keep working hard if they hope to have a winning season.
“Two out of three of the teams are in our region,” Demann said. “Skyline has won twice. Olympus won once. And Bountiful isn’t in our region, but they come here to open the season, and they won in between those teams. So we have good programs coming and a good challenge.”
Demann is optimistic that the Spartans will have a good showing against these competitive teams, so long as they do what they tried out on Feb. 29 to do: play soccer.
“We just need to play our soccer,” he said. “Every team is going to be different; some guys are bigger and faster, and other guys are focused on defense. We have to recognize what our abilities are and what our strengths are and make adjustments. We don’t change our style; we just make adjustments to match what somebody else does. Our style is going to be possessing the ball and keeping control of the game.”
Of the 35 players on the Spartan’s team, 13 have had experience playing on the varsity team. One such player, junior Drayden Ricks, thinks that changes in this year’s team will contribute to their success on the field.
“Our intensity is better than it’s been in the past,” Ricks said. “In my opinion, we just have more focus this year, and I think that’s because of our early losses during playoffs the last two years.”
Along with the team’s positive attitude, athleticism and work ethic, the Spartan’s overall sense of camaraderie has made this year both unique and enjoyable.
“It seems like everybody on the team is always together, playing soccer or something,” senior Brayden Barrett said. “This is the closest group of guys we’ve had since I’ve been here, and our chemistry is the best it’s ever been, and I think that’s going to help us a lot on the field.”
The Spartans play their last home game against Skyline High School on April 26 at 3:30 p.m.