Brooke Murphy the key to Wildcats’ historic season
By Sam Rabuck, Staff Writer
UNH freshman and All-America East Conference midfielder Brooke Murphy’s favorite part of playing soccer is winning, and she does it copiously.
In high school, Murphy led her team to two Western Massachusetts Sectional Championships during her six-year varsity career that began in the seventh grade. Murphy continued her history of winning last Saturday, as she scored in the second minute of the America East finals against Hartford to help lift the Wildcats’ to the team’s first ever America East crown.
“We weren’t satisfied with just getting into the finals,” Murphy said. “We wanted to change and make history here. That was our goal, and that’s what we did.”
So far this season, the UNH women’s soccer team has scored 16 goals. Murphy has accounted for 12 of those goals, scoring 11 and adding an assist. Murphy’s 11-goal mark was second most in the America East Conference this season.
In postseason action, Murphy scored goals in all three games and connected twice on overtime penalty kicks in both the quarterfinal and semifinal games. Murphy’s performances in the playoffs earned her a spot on the All-America East Conference tournament team.
“It’s not by accident,” said head coach Steve Welham. “[Murphy] is a very talented player, and she has a nose for the goal. When you look at Brooke’s goals, they come from inside of the box and outside of the box. It’s not just one type of goal that she can hurt you with.”
Murphy has been playing soccer year-round since she was in elementary school and is quick to credit her success as a player to her father, who played in high school.
“He does all the trainings that I do,” Murphy said. “Whatever I’ve learned and do on the field is because he has taught me from coaching me personally one on one.”
When Murphy, a Monson, Massachusetts native, arrived on campus for preseason training, she was timid and kept to herself. Monson High School has a mere 400 students enrolled. Murphy feared that her team at UNH would not be as tightly knit as her Monson High team and was anxious about beginning play at the collegiate level. But as the weather grew colder and the season went on, Murphy warmed up.
“Now, [Murphy] sees that it’s a positive environment,” Welham said. “She doesn’t stop talking. She doesn’t shut up anymore, and it’s good. She has a great personality.”
In terms of strategy, Murphy knows her stuff. Welham stated that she has a very high soccer IQ, and when asked what the strategy heading into the NCAA Division I regional playoff game against UConn this Saturday was, Murphy requested a pen and paper. Murphy outlined, in detail, her role as a player and what the offense does to create scoring chances using arrows, X’s and O’s.
“She’s a soccer player through and through,” Welham said. “She’s not someone that happens to just play soccer. She’s a soccer player. That’s someone that loves it all the time. She lives and breathes the game.”
For Murphy, soccer is her hobby and, as she put it, her life.
“I’d be lost without soccer,” Murphy said. “It gets me away from everything and for 90 minutes I can just focus on the thing that I love.”