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UMass women’s lacrosse senior Hannah Murphy is Angela McMahon’s latest legend in the making

(Jessica Picard/ Daily Collegian)

Since Angela McMahon became the coach for the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team in 2009, she and her staff have maintained and groomed no shortage of talent, from transfer-turned-star Erika Eipp, to three-time Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year Jackie Lyons.

UMass can now add Hannah Murphy to that list.

Murphy, a senior midfielder and team co-captain, enters the year with plenty of accolades. A two-time A-10 Midfielder of the Year and a 2016 All-American, she is the latest member of the Minutewomen to shatter old records and post top numbers of her own.

“She’s constantly doing extra work to improve herself as an individual,” McMahon said. “She’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever coached in my career, and she wants to do anything and everything in order to help the team be successful.”

The Duxbury, Massachusetts native played three varsity sports in each of her four years at Duxbury High School. She was a four-time league all-star in lacrosse, was named a first-team All-American and was one of the MIAA’s Will McDonough Athletes of the Year in 2013.

After graduating and choosing UMass over two other schools, her athletic career barely missed a beat.

She started six games for the Minutewomen her freshman year, and established herself as a draw control specialist, finishing second on the team with 45 draw wins. She broke out in her sophomore campaign, setting UMass and A-10 records for single-season draw controls with 113. On offense, her 46 goals led the team, and she was named the conference’s best midfielder for the 2015 season.

In 2016, Murphy once again lit it up and posted stellar numbers. She finished the season with 310 career draw wins, good for 12th in NCAA history. She earned her second consecutive A-10 Midfielder of the Year award and was named the A-10 Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after helping lead the Minutewomen to the Elite Eight, where they fell to top-ranked Maryland. Entering 2017, she averaged 4.92 draw wins a game, seventh best all-time.

Athletically gifted, Murphy could easily play attack or defense. But her intangibles, on-field awareness and ball-hawking skills make her a presence in the middle of the field and one of the country’s best players at the position.

“Her overall athleticism and instincts really separate her,” McMahon said. “She just has those natural instincts to read plays well. She has great hands, and she is a competitor. She’s really fearless, and is always tracking the ball and watching the ball, so wherever there’s a play going on, she’s usually near it.”

Murphy is one of just five seniors on the Minutewomen’s 2017 roster, and one of the team’s clear-cut leaders. But as a freshman on a team with eight senior starters, Murphy was quiet and reserved, eager to see some playing time.

“I just wanted to get on the field as much as possible,” Murphy said of her first year. “But I was definitely on the quiet side.”

“I don’t think I heard her say one word for her entire first year,” McMahon said with a laugh. “But now, she gained confidence, embraced her role as a leader, and has just been really true to herself. She has been an amazing leader and captain for us, and does a really good job connecting with everyone on the team.”

Murphy’s individual accomplishments are impressive, and by the end of the season, she will be in the top 10 for several all-time NCAA records. While her career is something to marvel at, her success in McMahon’s system is far from unparalleled.

The Minutewomen coach took the program to new heights in her first few seasons, posting the all-time best record for any coach in their first three years with a program (54-8). Her drive to win and ability to motivate players has made UMass a regular in the NCAA Tournament.

“Before I got to UMass, pretty much all I knew about coach McMahon was that she liked winning, which I liked too,” Murphy said. “I respected her a lot, and as I grew as a player, I feel like we naturally got closer each year. I really learn a lot from her on and off the field.”

Over McMahon’s career as coach, UMass has had five All-Americans—Katie Ferris, Kelsey McGovern, Lyons, Eipp and Murphy. Murphy was a freshman when Ferris and McGovern, who now coaches the Minutewomen, were seniors, and starred alongside Eipp each of the past two years.

“I really learned a lot as a freshman,” Murphy said. “Obviously people like Katie Ferris and Kelsey McGovern were very successful, and they were very good mentors. On the field, I learned a lot from their skills. And then playing with players like Erika, who was so smart with the ball and poised in finishing shots, really makes you a better player.”

Murphy has always played alongside premier talent. Now, it’s her turn to carry the torch.

“She’s going to do a lot for us, but she is also an ultimate team player,” McMahon said. “She knows that it’s not a one-woman show, and that the more spread out our possessions and offense are, the more successful we will be. She really works hard for the team to get better.”

After losing several senior starters to graduation in 2016, Murphy’s leadership is needed now more than ever. While it appears she will add more individual records to her career resume this season, her focus remains on the team’s success. The Minutewomen have made it a step further than the past season in each of her three playoff runs, and with one last shot at the NCAA Tournament looming, the goal is evident.

“We need to stay disciplined on and off the field,” Murphy said. “If we believe in ourselves and are willing to put in the extra work, we’ll get there. We need to stay disciplined and hungry for more.”

Henry Brechter can be reached at hbrechter@umass.edu.

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