Bulldogs fall to Swain, battle with Blue Ridge next

Murphy Bulldogs, Sports, TeamFYNSports
Bulldogs lose

Murphy High senior Ivan Ponce

BRYSON CITY, NC – With several Bulldogs out due to injury and the roster already short, a strong all-around effort wasn’t enough as the Murphy High soccer team fell 4-0 at Swain County on Wednesday, Oct. 2.

The injuries forced more than a few players to play out of their normal positions, making an already difficult task that much harder, according to Justin Butler, head coach for Murphy (2-5, 1-2 Smoky Mountain 1-A).

“The guys all gave it a solid effort, despite several having to play positions they aren’t used to,” Butler said after the game.

Replacement options and substitutions aren’t much of an option for the Bulldogs, so when a player does go down, it’s not as simple as running in the next guy.

Butler said that he’s going to begin training players in different positions as the season continues to progress.

Late goal earns win.

Bulldogs head coach Justin Butler.

“We will continue to train and get guys more comfortable in different positions and be ready for our match against Blue Ridge on Monday,” Butler said.


Murphy High junior Colin Parker

The team will certainly have to be ready if they hope to pull an upset Monday, Oct. 7.

The Bulldogs are slated to welcome region-foe Blue Ridge Early College, from Cashiers, to Murphy at 6 p.m., Monday.

The Bobcats (6-4, 2-1) are the defending region champions and have been absolutely dominant against the Bulldogs in recent years.

In two wins last season, Blue Ridge outscored Murphy 7-3. Since 2015, the Bulldogs have been outscored 40-9 by the Bobcats in nine meetings.

The last time the Bulldogs took down Blue Ridge was in October 2013. Murphy won 4-3 in that game, but then lost to the Bobcats in the postseason to end the year.

This season, Blue Ridge is led by senior Colton Taylor and junior Jacob Pressler, who play in the mid-field.

Late goal propels Bulldogs to first conference win

Murphy Bulldogs, TeamFYNSports
Late goal earns Bulldogs win
Late goal earns win

Junior Kenneth Parker, pictured above, scored the game-tying goal for the Murphy High Bulldogs (2-4, 1-1 Smoky Mountains 1-A) in a 2-1 victory at Highlands on Monday, Sept. 30.

HIGHLANDS, NC – A late goal proved to be the difference Monday, Sept. 30, as the Murphy High boys soccer team notched their first conference win of the season by taking down Highlands 2-1 in a big upset on the road.

Late goal earns win.

Bulldogs head coach Justin Butler.

The win is the first in seven years for Murphy against Highlands, according to head coach Justin Butler.

The Bulldogs (2-4, 1-1 Smoky Mountain 1-A) fell behind a goal in the first half, but managed to draw even in the second half before a last-minute goal led to victory.

“The guys ramped up their pressure and intensity at halftime,” Butler said. These guys played with a huge amount of heart and determination. They kept their heads in the game through the very last whistle.”

Late goal earns win

For the second-straight game, Senior Braeden Alexander, pictured above, scored for the Murphy High boys soccer team Monday, Sept. 30, at Highlands. Alexander buried a penalty kick in the closing minute to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 victory.

With the score knotted at one goal apiece and nearly a minute remaining in regulation, senior Braeden Alexander managed to bury a penalty kick in the net.

The goal put the Bulldogs up 2-1 and turned out to be the game winner as the defense held on the rest of the way.

The goal is the second on the season for Alexander, who is second on the team in goals scored.

The Bulldogs played well overall in the first half, but managed to find themselves out of position to give up the first goal.

With a much more intense defense in the second half, the Bulldogs returned to shut down the Highlanders and give the offense the opportunity to even the score at one goal each.

Junior Kenneth Parker managed a steal just inside the 18-yard box and put the ball past the keeper to tie the game at one goal each with Highlands (4-4-2, 1-1).

Parker leads the team in goals this season with three.

The Bulldogs are set to take on another conference foe in Swain County (3-6-3, 1-1) Wednesday, Oct. 2. Murphy will travel to Bryson City with the first kick scheduled for 6 p.m.

Bulldogs soccer falls to Hayesville at home

Murphy Bulldogs, Team FYN Sports
Murphy Bulldogs fall to Hayesviille

MURPHY, NC – The Murphy High Bulldogs soccer team couldn’t overcome giving up three goals in the first half Wednesday, Sept. 25, falling at home to Hayesville 3-1 in the first game of the region schedule.

The Bulldogs (1-4, 0-1 Smoky Mountain 1-A) started the match slow on defense, leading to the barrage of goals from the visiting Yellow Jackets.

Murphy Bulldogs fall to Hayesville

Senior Braeden Alexander works on the pitch for the Murphy Bulldogs. Alexander scored the team’s lone goal in a 3-1 loss to Hayesville on Wednesday, Sept. 25, in Murphy.

“We came out lacking intensity in the first half and made some mistakes defensively, which cost us,” coach Justin Butler said.

Despite the large deficit, Murphy turned the effort around in the second half.

The Bulldogs played much stingier and together as a unit on defense. They also continued to give themselves chances to score, but still displayed difficulty finishing off those scoring opportunities, which Butler said they are going to have to improve on.

Senior Braeden Alexander finally broke through for the Bulldogs, earning and converting a penalty kick to give the team their only score of the game in the second half.

“We came out in the second half much more intense and played much better,” Butler said.

Moving forward, the coach said the team still has to improve on playing 80 full minutes of high-intensity defense, while converting their scoring opportunities.

“We must continue to improve on finishing our scoring opportunities when they are available,” Butler said. “We continue to work and improve, and I am proud of how the guys regained their composure after a lackluster first half and came out and played very hard and much better in the second half.”

The road doesn’t get any easier for the Bulldogs as they continue on in conference play.

Next week, Murphy travels to Highlands for a match with the Highlanders (4-3-2, 1-0) on Monday, before visiting Swain County (2-6-3, 0-1) on Wednesday.

Both matches are set to begin at 6 p.m.

Bulldogs soccer falls 3-1 in Burnsville

Murphy Bulldogs, TeamFYNSports
Murphy soccer falls
Bulldogs lose on the road

Sophomore Jason Butler scored the lone goal for the Bulldogs on Monday in the team’s 3-1 loss to Mountain Heritage in Burnsville.

BURNSVILLE, NC – The Murphy High Bulldogs soccer squad played well for all 80 minutes Monday, Sept. 23, but a few plays that could have went either way ended up going against them in a 3-1 loss to Mountain Heritage in Burnsville.

The team had several opportunities to score but couldn’t finish them, and on defense had just a few mental breakdowns that were taken advantage of by Mountain Heritage.

The Bulldogs (1-3) trailed the Cougars (2-0-1) by just one goal at 1-0 heading into halftime, but the defense couldn’t keep the home team from finding the back of the net two more times in the second.

Head coach Justin Butler said his team played hard the entire game but still have gaps in the defense and aren’t finishing in the box like they should.

“The guys played well overall. We need to tighten up defensively and continue to do a better job of finishing our scoring opportunities when we get them,” Butler said.

The Bulldogs seemed destined to score several times in the match with runs into the box but just couldn’t make the final pass or strike to get them in the goal.

Murphy did manage to benefit from one converted scoring opportunity as Jason Butler struck on a set piece in the 48th minute.

Physical conditioning and a short bench continue to be serious concerns for coach Justin Butler, as his team has nearly a dozen players leaving very few chances for rest and virtually no chance to come out of the game.

This contributed to the Bulldogs giving up two goals in the second half, but Butler feels like his team can learn to overcome that and not make mistakes when they are tired.

Bulldogs soccer falls to Franklin on the road

Murphy Bulldogs, Sports, Team FYN Sports
Bulldogs soccer falls on the road

FRANKLIN, NC – The Murphy Bulldogs soccer team lost a tough game on the road Thursday, Sept. 19, at Franklin.

The Bulldogs (1-2) surrendered nine goals on the night while being shut out, but head coach Justin Butler said there were many positive to take away from the game.

Bulldogs soccer falls on the road

Sophomore Jason Butler puts in work for the Bulldogs soccer team.

Murphy took 13 players in to play Franklin. In turn, the home team Panthers had 22 on the roster.

Having so few players means being able to substitute and give players rest is almost nonexistent.

Franklin (5-4) is a Class 2A school, while Murphy is 1A, putting the Bulldogs at a disadvantage right from the opening whistle.

“It was rough,” Butler said, but added there were some definite bright spots.

“Collin and Kenneth Parker both played fantastic and tough the entire game,” Butler said, referencing the pair of identical twins that play for the Bulldogs.

Bulldogs soccer falls on the road.

Junior Kenneth Park works on the ball for the Bulldogs soccer squad.

Against Franklin, Butler had Kenneth Parker playing the attacking midfield position, with Collin Parker standing in the center of the defense at defensive midfield.

Murphy has one more non-conference game before moving into the 1-A Smoky Mountain schedule.

The Bulldgos will take on Mountain Heritage beginning at 5 p.m., Monday, Sept. 23, in Burnsville.

After that, Murphy will host Hayesville on Wednesday, Sept. 25, beginning at 6 p.m., for the first conference game on the schedule.

The game will be the first of ten straight conference games for the Bulldogs.

Bulldogs soccer team earns first win of season

Murphy Bulldogs, Sports, Team FYN Sports
Bulldogs win first of season

MURPHY, NC – Despite facing a team with twice the players and losing one of their own to injury in the first half, the Murphy High boys soccer team earned a 2-1 win against Tallulah Falls at home Monday, Sept. 16.

Bulldogs win first of season

Junior Kenneth Parker scored twice for Murphy on Tuesday.

The win was the first on the season for the Bulldogs (1-1) and came courtesy of gritty play and two goals from junior Kenneth Parker.

Parker scored his first goal early, finding the back of the net in just the second minute.

Much later, with the score even at a goal each and less than six minutes left in regulation, Parker again found the net for his second strike to push the Bulldogs into the lead.

Murphy was without junior forward Luke Ritz in the second half. Ritz left the game in the 16th minute due a severe ankle injury.

After Ritz’s exit, the Bulldogs found their total roster down to just 11, leaving no substitutions available for first-year head coach Justin Butler.

After a long delay in which Ritz was taken off by ambulance, Butler said he was proud of how

Bullldogs win first of season

Junior Luke Ritz suffered a season-ending ankle injury Tuesday.

his team played with just 11 players for the remaining 65 minutes of the game.

“They played fantastic. They dug deep and continued to play hard, and it paid off with a goal late in the game and a well-earned win,” Butler said.

Ritz was diagnosed with a broken ankle and is expected to miss the remainder of the season.

“I have one (player) that was not able to suit up that will be with us normally, and one or two more that may be joining us,” Butler said of his short-staffed squad.

The Bulldogs will need to add to the roster if they hope to improve upon a 4-9 overall record, 3-7 in the conference, from a season ago.

Murphy next plays on the road at Franklin, beginning at 6 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 19.

The Bulldogs are slated to open play in the 1-A Smoky Mountain Conference against Hayesville at home Sept. 25.

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