The 4A soccer state tournament kicks off Wednesday afternoon, and the road to the championship is wide open.
“Anything can happen at tournament time,” said Murray head coach Bryan DeMann, whose team won its third consecutive region title. “The 4A class is deep and balanced — take no team for granted.”
“It will be interesting,” said Roy coach Glenn Puckrin, whose team earned its second consecutive Region 5 championship after moving to 4A.
“At this stage, there will probably be some upsets,” he continued. “There are a lot of good kids at these schools that have been playing soccer a long time.”
Three of those standouts are leaders on the Royals’ squad, including the current top-scorer in 4A, Noah Jorgensen.
“This has been really a good season for him,” Puckrin said of the senior captain, who has 18 goals so far. “He has been working hard at finishing goals, and he has been scoring some pretty spectacular goals.”
Senior captain Brock Charlesworth adds to the team’s depth, so far recording nine goals and 18 assists.
“He’s a workhorse; he is our engine,” Puckrin said of the center midfielder. “His work ethic is unbelievable and he is always creating opportunities for his teammates.”
Junior goalkeeper Kaden Brinkerhoff is currently second in the classification with eight shutouts, right behind Tanner Critchfield of Murray, who has earned nine shutouts.
“He is quick and athletic, traits that are a blessing to have,” DeMann said of his goalkeeper. “And he is just a sophomore, so it will be nice to have him for the future.”
The Royals defense has allowed just 10 goals this season and only five during region play while the Spartans have given up eight total goals and just two during an undefeated Region 7 run. Murray is also led by the scoring of Andrew Clayton, who has nine goals.
“Murray seems to always be there,” Puckrin said of the 2012 runner-up. “The field seems to be very competitive.”
The Spartans will host Springville, the eighth seed from Region 8, which earned the spot with a play-in victory over Highland last Friday.
Defending champion Olympus struggled to start the season, suffering four losses and a tie in its first six matches. The Titans finished the regular season with three straight ties to secure the No. 2 spot in Region 7 and a home game against Cyprus.
The Titans, who finished 5-7-4, have scored just 17 goals all season while the Pirates, No. 3 out of Region 6, are led by Jarom Farnsworth’s nine goals.
Region 8 champion Orem will host Mountain Crest and Region 6 champion Bountiful will host Hillcrest, which defeated Herriman in a play-in game Saturday.
“I know a lot of these guys from competitive soccer; we keep an eye on the top players,” said Puckrin, whose team will face Timpanogos, the fourth team from Region 8.
“We have great team unity, and these guys seem to be clicking well,” Puckrin continued. “This is a big week for us. Our focus is on Wednesday and making the key plays on that day.”
Sarah Thomas is a graduate of the University of Utah and has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008. firstname.lastname@example.org