Eye on POY: Utah girls soccer

The fall soccer season may have concluded, but the search for Gatorade State Girls Soccer Players of the Year is in full swing. The award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Here are two top candidates who meet the basic award criteria as determined by our ESPNHS team that administers the program’s selection process.

Emily Bruder

Junior forward, Juan Diego Catholic (South Draper, Utah)

2011 Team record: 15-3-1 (Class 3A)

2011 Team standing: Lost Class 3A state semifinals

2011 Goals: 26

2011 Assists: 18

2011 Points per game: 2.75

Career goals: 87

Career assists: 30

Academics: A-minus average

Collegiate destination: Stanford University

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Scored seven goals in three postseason games for the Soaring Eagle, including a hat trick in a 3-1 win over Dixie (St. George, Utah) in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs. Recorded four hat tricks and one four-goal game on the season. Had six straight multi-goal games midway through the regular season. With 26 goals and 18 assists, was directly responsible for 68.8 percent of the Soaring Eagle’s 64 goals. 2011 U.S. Soccer Under-17 Women’s National team member. Two-time Salt Lake Tribune Class 3A Player of the Year. Three-time Class 3A First Team All-State selection. No. 59 ranked recruit in Class of 2013 as rated by ESPNHS.

Michele Murphy

Senior forward, Alta (Sandy, Utah)

2011 Team record: 19-1 (Class 5A)

2011 Team standing: Class 5A state champions

2011 Goals: 37

2011 Assists: 22

2011 Points per game: 2.95

Career goals: 49

Career assists: 39

Academics: A average

Collegiate destination: Brigham Young University

How she’s played herself into the State POY conversation: Tallied seven goals and four assists in four postseason games for the Hawks, including the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Viewmont (Bountiful, Utah) in the state championship match. Totaled three goals and four assists in an 8-0 rout of West (Salt Lake City, Utah) in the state quarterfinals. Had 12 multi-goal games on the season, including five hat tricks and two four-goal games. Recorded at least one point in 19 of Alta’s 20 games. Her 37 goals and 22 assists gave her direct responsibility of 62.1 percent of Alta’s 95 goals. 2011 Deseret News Miss Soccer; 2011 Salt Lake Tribune Class 5A Player of the Year.

Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Girls Soccer Player of the Year race isn’t over yet. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Here are some more of many who’ve been in the conversation throughout the 2011-12 campaign.

Taylor Campbell: Senior defender, Alta (Sandy, Utah)

Kaitlin Flynn: Senior midfielder, Juan Diego Catholic (South Draper, Utah)

Ali Forsberg: Senior forward, Viewmont (Bountiful, Utah)

Darian Jenkins: Junior forward, Riverton (Utah)

Lexe Selman: Senior midfielder, Alta (Sandy, Utah)

Think we're missing a deserving Gatorade State Player of the Year candidate in your state? Let us know via e-mail at ESPNHS_GPOY@ESPN.com.