GIRLS LACROSSE

Has the Wave ever had to face an early April, suddenly losing its top-scoring MVP for the season?

It has now.

Every coach, player, and team that is part of the girl's lacrosse program has the same thing in common, and that's heart.

— Laura Murphy

“Huge, huge loss,” said Wave girl’s lacrosse coach Lisa Lindley after senior co-captain Laura Murphy blew out her knee against visiting Ridgewood, N.J. on April 8. “Laura is irreplaceable.”

Another first for filling out with growing pains is having a sole remaining, on field, captain in senior Emma Lesko, whose shoulders will now bear a whole bunch.

“Losing Laura on the field was a massive blow to the team as she was a leading scorer and leader for the offense,” said Lesko. “She is an amazing player and I have always looked to her to see how I can make myself a better player.”

But, beyond goals in the net, what the Wave will miss in Murphy, Murphy is confident her teammates will find in themselves.

It’s what the Wave irreplaceable share with the subs.

“Every coach, player, and team that is part of the girl's lacrosse program has the same thing in common, and that's heart,” said Murphy, known for having a heart as large as the winning goals she’s scored. “It's one thing to be able to play as part of such a successful town, but even if Darien was the worst team in the FCIAC, I wouldn't want to play anywhere else.”

If Murphy had been playing somewhere else through her three years solidly, spectacularly often, performing at attack, Darien might not have made it to the finish line trophy in hand.

She was a golden key to the dual championship last season, contributed immediately her freshman year, and scored big, big, big in the Wave’s epic come-from-behind multi-overtime win over NC in the FCIAC final of 2015 her sophomore year.

“Her experience as a key player for the past three years has made her into an amazing captain, and despite her inability to be on the field, she will still be one of the most important members of the team,” said Lesko. “I am lucky to have been able to play both soccer and lacrosse with Laura since we were toddlers.”

Three years has been enough, in some ways. In some ways, she’s graduated early.

“Playing under Lisa, she doesn't only push and allow you to develop to the highest level of your ability in lacrosse, but she also teaches you lessons and values that prepare you for life past your last high school season,” Murphy said. “Never have I seen a coach care so deeply for her players, and I can honestly tell you she has impacted me in a way I could never thank her enough for.”

Murphy’s peeled herself from the turf plenty over three seasons, to get back in there with her teammates. The last time she hit the deck, her teammates were right there for her.

“Before I even hit the ground after falling in the game against Ridgewood, girls on the team were there supporting me and I am so thankful and lucky to have them,” she said. “The friendships, dedication, support and shared passion I have experienced over the past four years are like nothing I have ever been a part of, and this injury doesn't change that.”

Irreplaceable on the field, she’s invaluable in her new role on the sidelines.

“Although losing her on the field is a setback to the team, she continues to have a large presence on the team,” Lesko said. “She is still captain and her role has shifted from player more towards coach. Her guidance and leadership on the sidelines is invaluable.

“Laura is a great captain because she is one of the nicest girls on the team, but she also really knows what she is talking about.”

“I know it sounds cliche, but the team really is a family,” Murphy said. “I feel like a proud mom watching some of these younger players like Sarah Jaques, Katie Elders, the Humphrey sisters, (others) step up in recent games and I can't wait to see them develop into seriously amazing players.”

Down time has raised her sense of reflection on the flashing-by teenage years with the Wave.

“Getting to transition from being a part of the team as an underclassman, looking up to the older girls, to then entering my senior season with the girls I grew up playing with is an incredible privilege; and I guess the hardest part about getting injured is that I don't get to finish playing alongside the girls who I've been playing with and against for almost 10 years,” said Murphy. “That being said, the support I've gotten from both the girls and my coaches, Lisa, Kerri, and K-Rock, as well as from parents, graduated players, and even girls from other towns has been unbelievable and is yet another confirmation of how close and supportive the whole program is.

“And that's what is so great about this team.”

With Lesko, seniors Logan Book, Annie Wright, Catherine Arrix, Anna Stein, Carly Schoudel, Laurie Travaglini, Abigail Hancock, Katherine Heaney will help fill in the guidance gaps.

“Led by an exceptionally talented senior class, the team as it is, with or without me, has so much potential to win any game,” said Murphy. “Yes, the past week has been crazy: the lineup has changed, the field we play on has changed, positions have changed, but what needs to be understood is that our goals for the season have not changed, and our ability to achieve those goals has not changed.”

Lesko’s everything to the back end of the field that Murphy has been at the front. And that hasn’t changed either.

“I have infinite trust in Emma Lesko to be able to continue to lead the team in games and practices without my presence on the field; she is such a talented player and one of the strongest defenders I've ever played against,” Murphy said. “I will miss the everyday challenge and excitement of getting to play with and against Emma, but am still hoping to help out guiding and motivating the team.”

Darien next loss in practice junior Charlotte Harmon, a big, talented physical presence that is kind of a Lesko in waiting.

“As devastated as I am to not be able to play, I am so excited to see how the girls on the team step up and dominate despite losing two players in the span of a couple days,” said Murphy. “Because, like I said before, if there's one thing I can count on when it comes to the players and coaches in Darien girl’s lacrosse, it's that they're gonna have heart and they're gonna leave it all on the field.”

Murphy of course does not leave her lacrosse on the Darien field.

“She is truly a fantastic lacrosse player and I am excited to see how amazingly successful she will be at UPenn,” said Lesko.