Jacob Murnan’s engine is stuck in overdrive.
Whether in soccer cleats or basketball hightops, the Bear River senior gives it everything he’s got.
“Jacob’s a hard worker. He has that desire to do well, that work ethic it takes to win” Bruin head boys soccer coach Dave Molina said. “There are times when some of the guys can get off task and goof around. But Jacob can always get them back on track.
“He sees the bigger picture. We’re in a tough league and it takes a lot of discipline (to do well). I think he realizes that. It’s huge to have that kind of leadership on the field.”
Jacob Lazor, Murnan’s friend of 12 years and former teammate on the soccer field, said his pal’s rock-solid work ethic, lofty soccer IQ – as well as a healthy set of vocal chords – make him well-suited in the leadership role.
“He knows what he’s doing. He tells you what to do and he expects it to get done,” said Lazor, who shared the basketball court with Murnan last season. “That’s very important in soccer because it can get pretty hectic out there.”
Current Bruin soccer player Augie Smith agreed.
“Jacob definitely takes the leadership role,” he said. “He never gives up. Whenever we’re behind, he helps us keep our heads up.”
For Murnan, an All-Pioneer Valley League first-team defender in 2003 and team co-captain this year, the fire in his belly to succeed comes just as much from his competitive drive as it does from a desire to help break the patterns of the varsity program’s not-so-illustrious past.
“When I was on the junior varsity, I would see a lot of the older guys on varsity were just out there to have fun. I guess they knew they were going to lose, so they’d just screw around.” Murnan said. “But I knew the team we were going to have coming up was strong and wanted to win,” he added. “We had a lot more discipline, along with the drive to want to play (at a higher level).”
They did just that.
The Bruins, who had finished near the bottom of the PVL table the previous two seasons, allowed the second-fewest goals in the league, but still missed what would have been the program’s first playoff berth by just one spot with a third-place finish.
Not by a long shot.
“That made us feel like we (were on the right track). We knew we had worked harder and we had all of the skills we needed and that we were finally making things happen,” Murnan said. “But to be honest, there is actually more pressure because people expect a lot more out of you. But I like pressure. The more pressure there is, the harder I play.”
Murnan, the Bruin junior varsity’s Most Valuable Player in both his freshman and sophomore years, had made a name for himself on the defensive side of the ball through his first three seasons in Bruin colors.
He anchored the JV defense at sweeper, then reprised that role when he moved up to the varsity last season.
That changed this year.
“We started him out at sweeper again this year, but there were a couple of instances when we’d need a goal or be ahead when we’d move him forward (to striker). He performed so well, we (left him there)” Molina said. “He’s very, very fast and he’s got a hammer for a foot.”
Murnan, who has scored a goal in five-straight matches according to Molina, is more than happy with his new job.
“I prefer striker, but there is more pressure. It’s like, the defense has worked so hard to stop the play (that you don’t want to squander it),” he said. “When you’ve got the ball, everyone’s looking at you.”
“Everyone sees it when you make the goal. Everyone sees when you miss,” he added.
With his offensive numbers, Murnan stacks up with the best the league has to offer.
Ask him if he cares.
“I don’t really care (about that stuff). As long as we win. That’s what we’re out there to do.”
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Highly successful postseason runs come to an end for local Little League teams