Brit Murray was ready to shoulder more responsibility this fall in her senior campaign with the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team.
Having established herself as a pillar of the PDS defense over the last three years, Murray was asked to contribute to the Panther offense.
“Our coach [Pat Trombetta] asked me to be more of an attacking player and get more in the offense and get involved,” said Murray.
“With the outside backs getting up, it is really helping the center mids and the forwards and everyone is working hard off of each other. With me getting up, it is just opening up so much more space for everything.”
Against visiting Hun last Thursday, Murray’s new emphasis on scoring paid dividends as she booted in a Kirsten Kuzmicz pass some nine minutes into the contest to give PDS a 1-0 lead.
“It was a nice pass from Kirsten Kuzmicz, one of our great center mids; we have been working on that pass for a while,” said Murray.
“Kirsten has it in the middle and plays it out wide to whoever is running on it so we just try to take that shot. We have been doing a set play sometimes. It is coming together nicely. I was thinking I want to get it somewhere close to the net. I just tried to shift my foot in the direction of the net.”
Things kept going in the right direction for the Panthers as they pulled away to a 4-0 victory over Hun and improved to 5-0.
“I think this was our first game where we actually moved the ball around the field,” asserted Murray.
“We worked hard together; we were working for each other and not individually. I think our communication was just great. Our passing was great. Everything was just coming together like we have been practicing. That’s what we have been hoping for as a team.”
PDS is coming together much better as a team this fall, showing a new unity as the squad already surpassed its 2012 win total when it went 4-9-4.
“I think last year, our chemistry was not there,” said Murray, who helped the Panthers improve to 6-0 as they blanked the Hill School 3-0 last Monday.
“I think our chemistry is what is really helping us this year. We have tried to do a lot of team bonding; we are all just on the same page I think. On the field we always want to work for each other and not individually.”
Murray is assuming extra responsibility for that chemistry, serving as a team co-captain with classmate Lily Razzaghi.
“Lily and I have made it a point this year to make sure that everyone is on the same page and that the chemistry was perfect,” said Murray, who recently committed to the Iona College women’s soccer program. “No one is fighting or arguing; we just want to be like one team.”
PDS head coach Pat Trombetta credits Murray and the team’s other veterans with setting the right tone this fall.
“The team chemistry is excellent this year; that is due a lot to our leadership with the captains and the upperclassmen,” said Trombetta.
“Overall we have a strong upperclassmen group and they know with nine freshmen on the squad, they are taking them under their wings and being very good mentors and so forth. I like the way the girls are working together. It is a very close-knit group.”
Trombetta liked the way his team clicked in the win over Hun. “I was very happy with the effort today, especially in the first half,” said Trombetta whose team led 3-0 at intermission as junior Alexa Soltesz and freshman Allison Klei found the back of the net along with Murray in the first 40 minutes of the contest.
“I think the first half was probably our most complete half of the season. Everything was clicking on all cylinders. We were looking for each other. We were distributing the ball nicely.”
In Trombetta’s view, Murray’s two-way play has served to make PDS a more complete team.
“The difference with Brit Murray this year is that she is looking to attack from the outside,” said Trombetta.
“That is a big difference for us; we haven’t had that in the past. She is doing very well with it. I am giving her more free rein than I have in the past. They are coordinating pretty well out there. She is another weapon we can use coming out of the back.”
Junior forward Alexa Soltesz is another key weapon for the Panthers. “Alexa is a player who is going to get tightly marked up there,” said Trombetta.
“She still finds a gap and she has a quick explosive first step that opens up things for her.”
Senior midfielder Eloise Stanton is emerging as a key player for PDS.
“Eloise has been a bright surprise for us; she has four goals on the season and is probably our high scorer right now,” said Trombetta of Stanton, who scored a goal in the second half in the win over Hun.
“One of the things I said in the beginning of the season is that we needed contributions from our outside midfield and Eloise has stepped up and has accepted that challenge and she is doing great.”
PDS appears ready to challenge for titles. “I think we are definitely going to make a lot of noise in the preps,” said Trombetta, whose team hosts Shipley School (Pa.) on September 26 before playing at Blair on September 28.
“In the counties, we have got to do a better job of finishing. We have had a lot of opportunities, even today, in front of the net that we didn’t finish. If we can start finishing our chances, I think we could surprise a couple of teams.
Murray, for her part, believes the Panthers will finish strong. “I definitely feel it. I think we can make it to Prep championships. I think we are going to get a good seed in the MCT. I feel we are going to go far.”