MARION — Jaffer Murphy has long envisioned days like this one.
Having spent countless hours playing soccer in the Murphy family backyard alongside younger brothers Levi and Sam, the Marion sophomore was always committed to his mother’s dream of the three boys playing together for the same team.
“I’ve been surprised at how they just stepped in and filled their roles perfectly, doing what I know they can do,” Jaffer Murphy said after Class 2A No. 2 Marion defeated 1A No. 3 Williamsburg in overtime, 1-0, in a Wamac Conference boys’ soccer game Thursday at Marion High School. “Just having all three of us up there is really a powerful force.”
All three boys were born in Liberia, a small West African country located on the Atlantic Ocean coast. Each were adopted from separate birth families by Sean and Maya Murphy of Marion. Jaffer was 4 years old when he came to the United States, while Sam and Levi were both 3.
Now, the trio make up a formidable front line for Marion (9-0, 9-0 Wamac), which clinched a Wamac division title for the second year in a row and has its sights set on another state-tournament berth after qualifying for the first time in school history last year.
“I really enjoy playing on this team,” said Sam Murphy, who scored the winning goal off a corner kick from junior Josiah Smith with 2:37 left in the first overtime. “We work great together and it is a lot of fun. … I feel like we are working more now as a team. We’re jelling better together and understanding how each other plays together.”
Jaffer Murphy led the team with 14 goals as a freshman last season. With 92 percent of its scoring production back from the state-tournament team, Marion looks like a bona fide state-title contender with the addition of impact freshmen like Sam Murphy and Levi Murphy.
Jaffer and Levi lead the Indians with nine goals apiece this season, while Sam ranks third with five. Jaffer has also posted a team-high six assists.
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“It just brings us another dimension,” second-year Marion Coach Marco Fichtner said. “Jaffer draws, with his name, with his reputation, a lot of players. They adjust to him and then we had to move in two more forces, two more Murphy’s, if you want to say. It’s been nothing but a pleasure to watch them. … It’s been beautiful. Lethal. Beautiful for us, not so beautiful for the guys we play.”
Smith tallied his fifth assist this season on the game-winning goal, which was the first previously-unbeaten Williamsburg (8-1, 7-1) had allowed since the season-opening game on April 10.
The Raiders will host another undefeated team Monday in 1A No. 10 Iowa Mennonite (9-0), while Marion hosts Mount Pleasant.
“I think from last year we’ve improved a huge amount,” Jaffer Murphy said. “We’ve been playing together more like a team. Since the beginning of the year, since we went to state last year, we’ve had a goal set that we’re going to go to state and do 10 times better. Hopefully win it.”
Class 2A No. 2 Marion 1, 1A No. 3 Williamsburg 0 (OT-1)
Goal — Sam Murphy 1 (5). Assist — Josiah Smith 1 (5).
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