Good soccer teams rely on experienced players. And those that can make the playoff cut are teams that transform their inexperienced players into solid contributors.
That’s what the Mansfield Legacy girls soccer team expects to do this season with players such as sophomore Brigid Murray.
Playing varsity soccer this season after a freshman campaign on the JV squad last year, Murray is looking to translate her potential into results.
The key, she said, is getting the experience to build her confidence.
“My improvement is based on getting more confident,” Murray said. “I’m really trying to hustle every time in games, and it helps me play faster and play the game better.”
Some of her training comes from her older brother, Patrick, who was a member of the Legacy boys team which made it to the state semifinals.
Murray said her older brother was an influence in her soccer, but they also had a normal brother-sister relationship.
“I wanted to be like him,” she said, but “I was a pesky little sister, too. I did learn a lot from him.”
Murray said she was only three years old when she began playing the sport.
As a midfielder, Murray is also versatile enough to fill in at defender. What she has learned, though, is that compared to her JV playing time, the varsity level play is much faster. That pace makes her think faster on her feet and has lessened her hesitation.
One of Murray’s goals for the season is to continue to “not think too much on the field or hesitate on the ball. I think I’m better skill-wise and able to read the game better,” Murray said.
The more Murray and her younger teammates play, the greater the confidence level. Murray noted the squad this year has just three juniors, five sophomores and six seniors.
That means players like Murray will be expected to learn fast, play fast and gain confidence before the district schedule rolls around.
Along with the challenges that go with matching up with older players, Murray has no hesitation holding her ground at five feet tall.
“With contact, I’m learning how to deal with it,” she said. “My whole life I’ve been small, and I just learn how to get the ball without jumping in front,” using more finesse than strength.
Murray said that although there’s tougher competition at the varsity level, it’s more fun to take on that level of competition.
That desire to take on challenges is reflected even in her jersey number selection.
She chose a number she had previously worn, 13, after she changed to 10.
“I had 10 for Messi,” she said, “but for high school, I went back to 13.”
Murray wanted to go back to the supposedly unlucky number that nobody else wanted.
She said Legacy can make a return to the playoffs this year.
“If we play as a team and leave everything on the field every game,” she said of what it will take for a postseason appearance. “We need to keep practicing really hard and doing the best we can.”
Fun fact: No, it’s not a typo in Brigid’s name. She said her unique name is due in part to her father’s upbringing in Ireland, where St. Brigid shares a name with a Celtic goddess with whom many legends and folk customs are associated.