Throughout the 2024 season, as attacking players continually struggled to score on Brighton goalie Mason Fray, he had a good idea why. As much as it was good technique and anticipation, Fray was also starting to get into his opponents’ heads.

“I played attacked my (entire) life and if you get up against a hot goalie, you start second guessing your shots, maybe trying to be a little more accurate and taking some speed off it, which makes it an easier save, or just missing the cage completely,” said Brighton coach Chris O’Donnell.

The senior’s hot streak pretty much lasted the entire season as he made 192 saves and finished with 3.9 goals against average as the Westminster-bound goalie was named the 2024 Deseret News Mr. Lacrosse recipient, the fourth in the brief history of the award.

He capped it all with a stunning performance in the 5A state championship game as he saved 18 of 21 shots against Park City in the 10-3 win.

Trio of Titans: Boys lacrosse standouts Davis Searle, Sam Smith and Rome Swanwick shine as 2024 Players of the Year

The moment immediately after the final buzzer is something he’ll never forget.

“Watching 25 guys run full speed at you ready to celebrate is a pretty special feeling,” said Fray.

It started with teammate Donovan Wismer pulling him down by his jersey and then a massive dogpile ensued. Fray said all he felt was adrenaline as Brighton won its first boys lacrosse state championship.

“It’s like a 1,000 pounds being dropped off your shoulders when the time finally did run out,” said Fray.

Being the defensive anchor of Brighton’s championship run was a multiple-season exercise in patience for Fray. No doubt good enough to start in the cage both his sophomore and junior season, he was stuck both years behind all-state goalie Isaac Hanson, who moved on after the 2023 season to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Brighton’s coaching staff made sure to get Fray minutes throughout his sophomore and junior season, mostly in the second half, as he averaged 187 minutes each season. His stats were outstanding in his junior season, with a 4.2 GAA and 68% saves.

Doing it all as a backup kept Fray humble.

“It really made me work harder outside of practice when the coaches couldn’t see me,” he said.

After Brighton lost a heartbreaker to Park City in the semifinals 10-8 in 2023, in the brief postgame exchange between Fray and his coach, O’Donnell hugged him and said, “It’s your team now.”

Fray didn’t take the responsibility lightly as he worked harder than ever throughout the summer and fall, as the two years of being patient as the backup only added to the excitement for his senior season.

High school boys lacrosse: Deseret News 2024 6A all-state team
High school boys lacrosse: Deseret News 2024 5A all-state team
High school boys lacrosse: Deseret News 2024 4A all-state team

By the time that season rolled around, Fray admits he felt a lot of butterflies in his stomach about the season opener. Once the whistle blew, though, it quickly became just another game.

And very quickly in those first few games, Fray set an important tone for the Bengals.

“He set the tone for us every game knowing we could trust him back there and we’re not going to have to rely fully on our offense. We can do both either game,” said O’Donnell.

Fray proved to be a very vocal leader at the back for Brighton, helping organize the defense whenever necessary throughout the game. He believes team camaraderie played a big role in that success as, along with him, Brighton had three new defensive starters in 2024.

“I think that chemistry, even off the field, really helps you bond well on the field. It makes it a lot easier to communicate with your defenders when you know them a little more outside of lacrosse. It makes it way easier to have those conversations and play a little bit of a cleaner game when you have that good team bonding and chemistry throughout your team,” said Fray.

In the moment, though, when it became simply a 1v1 situation of Fray against the shooter, his outstanding shot-stopping prowess took over.

Brighton plays Corner Canyon in a boys varsity lacrosse game at Corner Canyon High School in Draper on Friday, March 29, 2024. Brighton won 13-6. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Two additional factors helped, according to O’Donnell — Fray was 6-foot-4 and left-handed. His height made it difficult for attackers to shoot high, and being left-handed was a different look for those same attackers.

The disadvantage of being tall is defending the low shots, something Fray said was a big part of the journey in his development over the past couple of years.

At the end of the day, it’s all about confidence in that split second.

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“You have to face every shot with the mentality that you’re going to beat the guy that’s in front of you because the minute you start getting scared of the ball or the guy winding up, you’re pretty much toast,” said Fray.

O’Donnell said that inside of five yards, when the attacker definitely has the advantage, Fray does an outstanding job of reading the shooter instead of just guessing.

It’s one of the many qualities that helped Fray become the first goalie to be named Mr. Lacrosse in Utah.

Next season at Westminster, Fray will be the youngest of four goalies on the roster. Whether he earns playing time or not his freshman year, he knows from experience at Brighton that patience and hard work will eventually lead to great things.

Past Deseret News Mr. Lacrosse winners

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