Bountiful • Assists often are bracketed by parentheses in soccer box scores. But there was nothing parenthetical about the passes the Murray boys’ soccer team was making on Wednesday.
Thanks to sure-footed passes that resulted in easy scoring opportunities, the visiting Spartans rolled by Bountiful 4-1 to earn a spot in the Class 4A quarterfinals opposite Logan.
The game was a rematch of a thrilling Class 4A semifinal last year won by Bountiful, which then went on to claim the state championship one game later. This time, though, Murray scored early and often to take the air out of the Braves’ effort.
“Passing is what we’ve been talking about with these guys for a long time. They sure set each other up with some good opportunities, didn’t they?” Murray coach Bryan DeMann said. “I’m proud of them keeping their head up and finding each other, guys being ready for those crosses and making the runs when they mattered. It was fun.”
The first goal came from Logan Ulibarri, stationed just a few yards in front of the Bountiful goal, when a ball came from the left directly to him. That was in the eighth minute.
Only two minutes later, Murray (9-5-3) struck again. The 2-0 lead came on a free kick, when Sam Hansgen sensed teammate Jaden Olsen breaking toward the goal. Hansgen put the ball on Olsen’s foot and the sophomore midfielder stuck it in the net.
“It was in the moment — it wasn’t really designed,” Olsen said. “They kind of gave up that front post. We both kind of looked at each other and knew where we wanted to go.”
With 16 minutes left in the first half, Hansgen was spot-on with another pass as the Spartans extended their lead. A long lead pass from the left side of the field found teammate Sean Speirs in stride, and onside, as Speirs raced down the right toward the goal.
Speirs struck the ball cleanly by Bountiful keeper Cole Palmer for a 3-0 advantage.
The margin grew to 4-0 on a rebound shot by Ulibarri with five minutes before intermission.
“We had a rough game against them last year. It went to PKs, so it was good to get a win,” Olsen said. “They had like 43 goals this season. We knew they were going to be a tough team, so we knew we were going to have to score first and just keep the momentum.”
Bountiful (11-6) got one back when junior Alex Simpson scored 10 minutes into the second half, but it was the only tally for the Braves.
“It’s a good, fast, strong, big team and it seemed to catch us by surprise early,” said Bountiful coach Louis Plank. “It took us a while to adjust and recover. We obviously played better in the second half, but it was too little too late.”
4A boys’ soccer
All games at 4 p.m.
• Cyprus 1, Olympus 0
• Maple Mountain 4,Ogden 1
• Logan 1, Provo 0
• Murray 4, Bountiful 1
• Box Elder 2, Wasatch 0
• East 1, Timpanogos 0
• Skyline 2, Judge 0
• Salem Hills 2, Roy 1
All games at 4 p.m.
• Cyprus at Maple Mountain
• Murray at Logan
• Box Elder at East
• Salem Hills at Skyline
Storylines Knights 12, Warriors 8
R Murray knocks off the defending Class 4A champion in a rematch of last year’s state semifinals.
• The Spartans score twice in the first 10 minutes, then add another pair of goals before halftime.