“We know we have to play the full 80 minutes each time,” said Freddy Urbina, a senior striker. “We know that no matter how good or bad a team is, we have to play it like a final because they are going to give us a tough match.”
North Murray reached the quarterfinals of last season’s Class 2A state playoffs before losing 6-1 to Westminster. Chambers said the objective heading into the season was two-fold: repeat as region champs and make a run to the state semifinals.
“We want to make it past the (round of) eight,” said Cruz, also a senior. “If possible, even to the finals.”
With players like Cruz and Urbina, both on The Daily Citizen’s 2012 All-Area Boys Soccer Team, North Murray started this year with plenty of confidence.
“Last year was an experience because we just wanted to see how far we’d go,” Urbina said. “We were like the new kids on the block. So we saw how good we were and how we have progressed. This year everyone is just playing at their best.”
Only one starter from last year’s team graduated, center defender Edgar Mendez. His brother, Aaron, claimed that role for the 2013 season. Urbina set the program record last year with 25 goals while tacking on 12 assists from his striker position. Cruz, a center midfielder, scored 15 goals and assisted on 11 more last season. He entered the season with the program’s all-time scoring record.
Goalkeeper Manuel Gonzalez was an all-area honorable mention last year as a sophomore, and this season he’s only allowing 1.2 goals per game. In region matches, the number drops to 0.5.
Just four games remain on North Murray’s schedule, with the likely toughest tests next week. North Murray travels to Cartersville at 7:30 p.m. Monday and to Coahulla Creek at 7 p.m. Friday. Cartersville has one loss in league play, while Coahulla Creek has three.
Win those two, and the Mountaineers clinch another region title.
Just like last year was the school’s first league championship, a repeat could mark the first time a North Murray athletics program has won back-to-back titles. (North Murray’s boys golf team will go for its own region repeat during Monday’s 5-3A tournament at Indian Trace Golf Course in Chatsworth.)
“That would be awesome,” Chambers said. “We break all kinds of records for North Murray.”