SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ - If there was one word to describe sophomore James Murphy’s soccer season with the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Raiders, it would be domination.
Murphy was selected to the All-Union County First Team, All-State First Team, and was named Union County Player of the Year by the Star-Ledger. Murphy was the only sophomore to be selected to the All-State First Team.
However, on Dec. 2, 2013, Murphy became something that high school soccer players across the nation dream of: an All-American.
“I never would have expected it going into the season,” Murphy said. “It’s a huge honor for me to earn this award.”
“For many awards, the committees focus on juniors and seniors in High School, so James has truly broken the mold for the All American Honors,” said Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School’s athletic director Ryan Miller. “In regards to the overall scope of what this means for SPFHS Athletics, it is further recognition of hard work, talent, and efforts of the individual athlete (and his family), the other players on the team, and the coaching staff.”
Murphy, a two-year starter on Scotch Plains-Fanwood, led the team this season in both goals (22) and assists (18). His 62 points in the season were the second most in Union County, despite Scotch Plains-Fanwood having an extremely difficult schedule.
“The team had a lot to do with me winning this award,” Murphy said. “I wouldn’t have had that many assists without a guy there to finish, and I wouldn’t have scored as many without the help of the others as well.”
As a team, Scotch Plains-Fanwood finished ranked 13th in the Star-Ledger Top 20 with a 17-5-1 record. Although the team lost to Millburn in the Section 2, Group 4 semifinals, they did earn a county championship.
One of Murphy’s stand-out moments during the season was during that county-championship run, when Scotch Plains-Fanwood went up against rival Westfield in the county semi-final. Murphy scored the game-winning free kick in double overtime that sent the team to the finals in dramatic fashion, where they later beat Elizabeth, 4-2, to win the county championship for the third year in a row.
Despite all of these prestigious awards, Murphy isn’t done yet. “I like to think there’s nothing I do best, because there’s always something I can improve on,” Murphy said. “My goal is to keep improving and continue to get better.”
Murphy was one of four high school players in New Jersey to be named an All-American.
“Without the team and the coaches and the support from everyone; my family, friends, Raider Nation and all, this award wouldn’t have been possible,” Murphy said.