Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 25
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
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(Photo Courtesy of the Providence College Office of Athletic Communications)

ACT OF PROVIDENCE: Bennett Murphy heads up the field in a game this spring for the Providence College men’s lacrosse team. Murphy, a former Princeton High lax standout, went from being cut from the Providence squad as a freshman to team captain and leading scorer in his final season this past spring.

Former PHS Boys’ Lacrosse Star Murphy Perseveres to Become Captain at Providence

Bill Alden

Bennett Murphy realized he was a long shot when he tried out for the Providence College men’s lacrosse team in the fall of 2003.

While the former Princeton High star stood 6’4 and boasted a high school resume that included more than 100 career goals, Murphy knew he wasn’t Providence head coach Chris Burdick’s cup of tea.

“I knew the coach was not typically into my type of player,” said Murphy, who wasn’t recruited by Providence and was trying to make the team as a walk-on. “He likes quicker, shorter attackers; I’m the opposite of that.”

Opposites didn’t attract as Murphy was cut from the squad after a week. Undeterred, Murphy played in men’s leagues in the area and worked to improve his quickness.

In the fall of 2004, Murphy made the team but he knew he still had to win Coach Burdick over. That spring, Murphy got on the field and wasted no time in making an impression, scoring a goal on his first shot.

The productive Murphy worked his way into the lineup, scoring 13 points on five goals and eight assists in nine appearances and helping Providence make it to the NCAA tournament.

By 2007, Murphy developed into a go-to player for Providence, scoring 26 points on 21 goals and five assists as the Friars won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) title and lost to Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

This past spring, Murphy, now a graduate student in the Providence business school, served as a team captain and ended his career by leading the team with 37 points on 23 goals and 14 assists. After the season, he was awarded the team’s Mark C. Cordon “Heart and Soul” Award, the program’s most prestigious honor.

In reflecting on his career, Murphy relishes how he was able to earn his coach’s respect.

“He still wasn’t sold on me as a sophomore,” recalled Murphy.

“I was scoring a lot on the scout team in practice and then one game he turned to me and put me in. I ran onto the field and got into the crease area, took a pass and scored right away. I was starting after that; I played in every game the rest of my career except for one game I missed due to an injury.”

Coach Burdick acknowledged that it took him awhile to appreciate Murphy’s talents.

“The first thing I remember about Bennett was that he wasn’t as mobile as we wanted; he needed to work on a lot of things,” said Burdick, who has guided the Friar lacrosse program for 10 seasons.

“He was the last person we cut; he just wasn’t ready yet. He worked his tail off and he was almost a different player when he came back. He was able to move better, he had lost some weight, he was much more athletic.”

While Murphy has set a personal example of perseverance, the Providence team collectively showed rare character in 2007 when it started 0-8 but ended up making it to the NCAA tourney.

“The whole senior class was able to keep the team together,” recalled Murphy, noting that he and his classmates shared the Cordon Award after that season. “We focused on playing for the next game; we were able to play our way in.”

In Murphy’s view, the team’s balanced offense is another factor in the program’s success in his career.

“Our offense gives us the chance for everybody to be involved,” said Murphy. “There was a bunch of us in the 20 goal range; we don’t run plays for one guy.”

Burdick credits Murphy for triggering the Providence offense. “Bennett was like a coach on the field; he ran our offense,” said Burdick.

“He would give me hand signals as he was going down the field. He was like Terry Bradshaw calling plays at the line of scrimmage. He knew where everyone should be and he was able to get them in the right spot.”

This past spring, Murphy knew he was in an important spot as the team captain.

“It was an honor; it was a lot of responsibility and accountability,” said Murphy.

“You have to monitor everything that is going on and make sure the guys are doing the right things; sometimes you have to be the guy that says something isn’t a good idea. They may be mad at the time but they thank me the next day.”

Burdick is thankful for the brand of leadership displayed by Murphy. “He’s a very mature guy; he understands more than the typical 18-22 year old,” asserted Burdick.

“He understands what is going on around him and he sees things in a bigger perspective. His leadership skills are superior to just about everyone we have had here. I have had some two-time captains and I would say that Bennett combines all of their qualities put together.”

Murphy is a bit frustrated about how Providence failed to put things together this past spring as it went 7-8 and suffered tough regular season losses to North Carolina and Brown and a devastating loss to VMI in the MAAC playoffs.

“We were leading North Carolina and Brown; against Fairfield we had it won and they disallowed a goal,” said Murphy.

“In the North Carolina game, we were in control and they pulled together. Brown made plays at the end. Against VMI, we were up 7-3 and the offense couldn’t do anything in the second half.”

While Murphy was disappointed by how the season ended, he was proud to earn the program’s Cordon Award.

“Last year, the whole senior class won it; this year, it was just me,” said Murphy.

“It is one of those awards where you never know you are going to win it. I was surprised and honored. It’s something that represents special things.”

In Burdick’s view, Murphy is leaving a special legacy with the program. “He won’t be leaving a void in the sense that each of our returning players has some Bennett Murphy in them,” maintained Burdick.

“He taught them how to lead and how to operate under duress. He showed them about keeping cool under pressure.”

In the final analysis, Murphy believes that the rocky road he travelled at Providence has given him a deeper insight into dealing with stress.

“Going from a walk-on to a team captain has put me in a position where I’m not shaken by things,” asserted Murphy, who is looking to get into the financial field after earning his MBA.

“Stepping into the business world, nothing is going to scare me. If I get fired; I know I can bounce back. I’ve also learned how to work with people and find ways to get people to work together.”

The fearless Murphy is a sure shot to do big things wherever he ends up.

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