The Transylvania Times -

By Jeremiah Reed
Sports Editor 

Blue Devils' Soccer Looks To Vamp Up Pressure in 2015 – Brevard NC

 

 Brevard High School Varsity Soccer Team (Photo by Jeremiah Reed)

Despite inheriting a squad that finished 5-12 last season, first-year Blue Devil head soccer coach Gordon Murray believes his team is better than its past record and looks for 2015 to be a breakout year.

Last year's team improved slightly over their 2013 campaign when Brevard finished 4-12-2. The 2014 Blue Devils also racked up some impressive victories, including a 2-1 win on the road at Tuscola and a 1-0

win at home against perennial powerhouse West Henderson.

Although they lost a dozen games, the team was also competitive. Of their 12 losses, six came by two goals and four of those were by a one-goal margin.

Going into October last season, the Blue Devils were 5-6 but faltered down the stretch, losing six straight conference games to round out the year. This season, with a 25-man roster comprised entirely of juniors and seniors, Murray said the Blue Devils have all the ingredients for a winning team.

"I have enough talent to win. I've just got to figure out how to make it come together," Murray said. "They're a good bunch of kids. They have solid skills."

Expectations

In terms of his philosophy as a coach, Murray said he wants his team to be constantly attacking and pressuring opponents into making mistakes that hopefully can translate into goals.

"Pressure wins ball games," he said. "If you apply constant pressure you'll always win."

While constantly being on the attack is the goal, it demands a great deal of fitness from players. Murray said he plans to use his deep bench to send wave after wave of attackers to relentlessly harass the opposition.

"One of the things I'm going to do differently is use my bench repeatedly. This is high school soccer, I want to put somebody in there and have them give me 110 percent for eight minutes or for 15 minutes. In the past, we've played 11 players for about 90 percent of the entire game and used 10 percent substitutes. So we're going to try use our subs to get better results," Murray said.

Brevard recently competed in a soccer jamboree at A.C. Reynolds that pitted them against some of the best teams in the area. Coming out of that experience, Murray said he plans to use a 4-2-3-1 formation, with four defenders, two defensive midfielders, three attacking midfielders and a lone striker.

Returning Players

The 2015 Brevard soccer team will be one of the most experienced rosters in recent memory. The Blue Devils have 11 seniors and 14 juniors, many of who have played at the varsity level for several seasons.

Some of the key seniors include Travis Hogsed – a four-year starter as goalkeeper – Olin Williams, who poses a threat as striker, and Nathan Pierron, who will be expected to take on a leadership role as an attacking center-mid.

While there may not be a disparity in talent, Murray said chemistry would be an important factor to the Blue Devils' success. Murray referenced several Henderson County teams as having players that played together year-round, outside the high school season, and thus were able to stay in peak form.

"Not all of our players play in the offseason. Some of them play other sports but they don't play soccer and against a lot of these other teams, we play catch-up. When we play a North Henderson, or Franklin, or really any of the Hendersonville schools we have a hard time keeping up. So we have a lot of work to do," Murray said.

One encouraging note is the senior class that Murray will look to for leadership and experience.

"Relying on the experience of 11 seniors gives us a better shot than we've had in the past. Last year we had four (seniors) and they were the best players on the team, bar none. But we really relied on them so I'll look to lean on the seniors this year," he said.

Conference Outlook

As usual, the 2A/3A Western North Carolina Athletic Conference will feature some of the top soccer programs in the area. Last year, the conference title went to Franklin, who lost only one conference game all season and made a deep run into the playoffs. Brevard finished second-to-last; two games ahead of last place Pisgah.

The Panthers will be looking to repeat as champions this season but Murray said all three Henderson County schools look strong, as always.

"We always have a hard time with North, East and West. It's the mix of experience that they have. They bring a lot to the table. Those are always tough matchups and we have to bring our A-game to beat those guys."

Brevard's first home game is Aug. 25, when they host Hendersonville and they kick off conference play

 Brevard High School JV Soccer Team (Photo by Jeremiah Reed)

with home match against Franklin.

About the Coach

2015 will be Murray's first season as head coach of the Blue Devils but he's been a part of the team for the past several years. He coached alongside former coach Erik Wahus and more recently Chris Bennett.

Murray played soccer at Brevard High School as a student and also played one year at Brevard College, when

the school was still a

two-year institution. He then went on to play club soccer

at Appalachian State University. Overall, Murray has 43 years of soccer

experience.

 
 

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