Ms. Soccer 2011: A position change brought about a dream season for Alta's Michele Murphy

By Jessica Wilde

Deseret News

Published: Monday, Nov. 14 2011 3:53 p.m. MST

Alta soccer player Michele Murphy poses for Monday, Nov. 7, 2011 photos at Alta High School in Sandy. Michele was named Ms. Soccer 2011.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

The 2011 girls soccer season couldn't have ended much better for Alta senior Michele Murphy.

In the 65th minute of the 5A State Championship game at Rio Tinto Stadium, Murphy claimed the trophy for the Hawks over Viewmont when she saw an opening and sent one sailing into the back of the net.

On top of the title, the goal gave Murphy the all-time Alta scoring record for a single season. She finished with 37 season goals, beating the previous Alta record of 36 in the final minutes of her high school career.

"After scoring that goal, my first thought was that this was too perfect," she said. "I tried to take in all the excitement from the moment and the feeling so I could remember it."

Murphy's dream season for the Hawks came as somewhat of a surprise as she scored just six goals in the 2010 season. Prior to this year, she played in the midfield and her scoring ability flew under the radar.

"She's been a midfielder her whole career but they moved her up top with her club team this summer," coach Lee Mitchell said. "She was like a duck in water. She really took off."

The go-getter burst onto the scene and proved to be a potent scoring threat as she led the state all season. She knew she had a tall order to fill when she was moved up front.

"There was a leadership role that had to be filled," she said. "I was so excited to play forward because I felt that I could contribute more to the team by playing that position."

Although the move allowed Murphy to put Alta on the scoreboard, she never lost her ability to pass the ball. In fact, she finished the season with 22 assists.

Her parents, who coached her from a young age, taught this motto: "If you have a shot you owe it to you team to take it. If you don't have a shot, you owe it to your team to pass to someone that does." She lived this principle.

She started playing with her siblings at the age of 5 and is quick to credit her family for her success and love of the game.

"My brothers and sister always had a ball at their feet, encouraging me to get past them before I could go out of the room," she said. "I learned fast to beat them if I wanted to go anywhere."

The hours of practice paid off and she would go on to beat nearly every defender she met. The soccer star attacked the net incessantly with crowd awing finesse and put in her final goal when it mattered most.

According to Murphy, the championship finish marked the most memorable moment of her time spent at Alta.

"We left our legacy," she said. "We finally got to be the ones to write our names on the wall along all the greats that played before us."

The victory over Viewmont kept up with tradition as it marked the seventh state championship in the past decade for the revered program.

"I will remember this forever. I'm so grateful I had the opportunity to be part of the Alta soccer program," Murphy said.

Coach Mitchell was impressed with her performance, but was equally pleased with her leadership role and overall character.

"She never asked anyone to do anything she wasn't willing to do, and that's the mark of a great leader," he said. "She cares about every kid on the team and worried about the freshman all the way up through the seniors."

With the 5A crown and a long list of soccer accolades, Murphy has every right to be overconfident. Instead, she carries herself with a refreshing humility.

"She has always been humble and a really great kid," Mitchell said. "She's the type of kid that you'd love to have as a daughter, and the type of kid that if you were a father, you'd love your son to bring home."

Murphy, surrounded by a slew of talented players, led Alta to an undefeated regular season and a 19-1 overall record. The high-achiever accepted an athletic scholarship to BYU and will join the ranks of their women's soccer team next fall.

email: jwilde@desnews.com

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