Thinking Outside The Box

Mike Murphy is in his eighth season as an assistant coach with the Army lacrosse team. Under his tutelage, the Black Knights have consistently been ranked among the nation's top defenses, while he has also guided some of the most prolific goalkeepers in Academy history. A native of Beverly, Massachusetts, Murphy graduated from New Hampshire in 1996 where he was a three-year lacrosse letterman for the Wildcats.

March 15, 2011

Redemption, Respect and Rutgers

As I sit down and think about this week’s blog I cannot help but reflect back to my thoughts after the Syracuse loss. I did my best Coach Alberici by speaking to our team through this blog about the importance of taking care of one another.

I went into detail about how the seniors needed to realize that their final season is too precious to let any opportunity slip by without giving it 100 percent, 100 percent of the time. I implored our underclassmen to think about the seniors and how they would feel when it was them looking in the mirror one, two or three years from now.

Our heroes of the Hudson went on and won our last three since that disappointing game vs. the Orange. They have done so in true Army fashion. They have done it together.

This past week was an interesting test for our team. They would be faced with two games in 48 hours.  The last time that happened was the Patriot league Tournament in 2010. But this time it would be vs. Bryant, a team that beat us in Michie in 2010, and Wagner, a team we had never played and did not have a lot of film on.

The week of practice leading up to Bryant was great. Our guys were very motivated to gain redemption from last year’s 7-6 loss here at home. Our guys also knew how important the Bryant game is to Coach A!  Every game is important to Coach Alberici, but some games have a hidden motivation for our head coach. The Bryant game is an example of “teacher” vs. “student.” Coach Alberici and Coach Pressler spent nine seasons at Duke, building that program into a national power. So anytime you get a chance to play against someone you hold in the highest regard you want to beat them. 

Coach A is masterful in not putting any additional stress on the team, but they know what the Bryant game means to our head coach. With the amount of time we spend together as a group, the players learn just as much about the coaches as the coaches learn about the players. 

Another great undertone to the Army vs. Bryant match-up was the “battle of the Sipperly’s.” Our Derek would be going head-to-head against his older brother, Trever, at the face-off X. In addition, Derek’s younger brother, Dan, plays attack at Bryant.

Not to go too much into the game because you can read Tracy Nelson’s story on our website at  Trever won the battle at the X but Derek and our Black Knights won the game, 12-7.

The guys played hard and physical. They continue to gain confidence in themselves and the team.  It was also a game where I think we got a little deeper as a team. Due to some injuries incurred last week, some new faces were in new roles. Larry LoRusso was excellent in limiting Bryant’s best attackman to one assist. Brendan Buckley held strong in his first start and Alex Carros and Corey Reiser continue to develop their games.

With a quick turnaround the Bryant victory was short-lived. Coach A and Coach Georgalas held a light Saturday practice in preparation for Wagner. Coach Diange and I travelled south to watch two future opponents.  All reports were that the practice was crisp, to the point and the boys were ready to go. I think the staff’s biggest concern was not if we would be ready, but who would forget to set their clock ahead!  

Our guy’s did a good job of respecting Wagner. They have some nice young talent and continue to improve with every game. The Black Knights were very workmanlike and took care of business. Again, you can visit to read the game recap and see some great video from the gameDerek Sipperly was named the player of the game for his 9-for-10 effort at the face-off X and his big goal after a face-off win. Defensively, Pat Mulholland was great in his first start, as well as Drew Kearns coming in off the bench. Matt Ghidotti, Nate Gustafson and David Tarsa all notched their first career goals.

I am proud of the seniors for their efforts and very excited that many of our young players were able to contribute throughout the game. Wins don’t just occur on game day, they are earned during the week of practice, and most times, the guys that put in the hard work of being scout team guys or shooting drill goalies don’t get into the games they work so hard to get others ready for. But everyone got to contribute on Sunday, which I know all the guys enjoyed.

The PPOW for last week was Taylor Bethea.  Taylor continues to raise his level of play.  If he continues to improve we may see him crack into the game day line up sooner rather than later.

As we move into this week, we have a new twist to contend with. Its spring break here at West Point, while most of their school mates are “relaxing” on some beach, we are living it up at “beach Truxtun.” The boys know they need to approach this week like professionals. They need to focus on the three R’s – REST, RECUPERATE and RUTGERS. 

We need to take some time to rest-up and recuperate from our various bumps and bruises. With a week off from classes, we need to take the extra time to dissect and study a very dangerous opponent.  Rutgers is scoring a ton of goals, and the Scarlet Knight’s defense has been stingy allowing only five goals per game in 2011. Historically, it’s been a battle between the two Knights. Our Blacks have to out work their Scarlets.

As we begin our preparation for our neighbors on the banks of the Raritan, we have to continue to learn from the past, be excited to win today and be prepared for what tomorrow will bring.

It’s on to Rutgers for #5!

“If you want unusual results, you need unusual behavior.”

Coach Murph

Previous Entries
Oct. 14, 2010
Jan. 27, 2011
Feb. 4, 2011
Feb. 10, 2011
Feb. 14, 2011
Feb. 22, 2011
March 1, 2011
March 8, 2011


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