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Pennsylvania men begin new era as former Haverford College mentor Murphy takes over as head coach

Sunday, 7th February 2010

Categories Boy's/Men's, College  
 

Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/7/10
From Press Releases and Staff Reports

The University of Pennsylvania men’s lacrosse team begins a new era this year as former Haverford College mentor Mike Murphy begins his first year as head coach.

Penn returns 17 letter winners from a 2009 team that finished 5-8 overall including a 2-4 Ivy League mark under Brian Voelker, who took the job at nearby Drexel.

Among the returnees are eight starters: junior Corey Winkoff on attack; sophomore John Conneely on the first midfield; seniors Brett Hughes and Tommy Dodge and sophomore Will Koshansky on defense; sophomore Joe Hegener in goal; and two on the face-off unit (senior face-off man Justin Lynch, senior long-stick middie Joe Kelly). For many of the seniors, 2010 will mark their third and even fourth year as a starter.

Penn hopes to be bolstered by the return of senior Brett Hughes on defense; a two-year starter in 2007 and 2008, he missed all of last year due to injury.

Winkoff, the only returnee among Penn’s top five scorers from 2009, has been Penn’s assist leader each of the last two years, collecting 43 in that time. He needs 18 to crack the program’s all-time Top 10.

A pair of junior midfielders, Morgan Griff and Al Kohart, tied senior Casey O’Rourke for sixth on the team in scoring last year; all three players finished with 11 points. Kohart was a second-team All-Ivy pick as a freshman in 2008.

Conneely was tops among freshmen last year with six points (3g, 3a), while Classmate, Dan Savage, had a pair of goals. Senior Rob McMullen had five goals.

On defense, expect Hughes, who had 10 caused turnovers and 27 ground balls in 2008, Kelly and Koshansky to anchor things. Kelly had a team-high 16 caused turnovers last year, while Koshansky was second with 12.

There are several veterans at the defensive middie positions, including Dodge and junior Terry Kennedy. Lynch had a .542 win percentage last year on face-offs, and swept up a team-leading 82 ground balls. Kelly ended the year with 53 GBs. This year, they figure to anchor one of the top face-off units in the country.

In goal, Hegener started eight games last year and had a .441 save percentage and 10.68 GAA; he could be pushed by senior Chris Casey, who started 21 of Penn’s 26 games between the pipes in 2007 and 2008.

There are two Philly players on the roster: senior defenseman Todd Tewksbury (Upper Dublin) and junior goalie Ted Rawlings (Malvern Prep). Tewksbury is expected to see time also as a wing man on the face-offs after playing sparingly his first three seasons.

“With the change (in coaches), you have the chance to take advantage and start fresh,” Tewksbury said. “He (Murphy) came in first day first meeting and said, ‘If we score 75 percent of time on offense and give up a goal only 33 percent of the time on defense, we’ll win no matter what. And we should be able to possess the ball constantly.’

“He has a good vision and high expectations. He just has to transform the players into what he wants them to be.”

Murphy, who was a Penn assistant coach in 2001 (as defensive coordinator) and 2002 (as offensive coordinator), spent the last seven years at Haverford College. He took the program to unprecedented heights, winning 64 games and leading the Fords to consecutive NCAA playoff berths the last two years. Haverford won its first Centennial Conference regular season title last year and hosted a second-round NCAA playoff game while finishing the year ranked 11th in the nation with a very young team.

This year, Murphy will be assisted by long-time Voelker assistant Chris Wojcik and former Haverford College assistant Brian Dougherty – also a former Episcopal Academy, University of Maryland and Philadelphia Barrage great who is the starting goalie for the US National team. A fourth coach is former Lower Merion and Virginia great John Christmas, a volunteer assistant.

The Quakers open Feb. 27 at National contender Duke in Durham. N.C. Duke is Murphy’s alma mater.

“We are very excited about the 2010 season,” Murphy said. “We have set lofty goals that we will work toward each day with enthusiasm and intensity. We have a strong senior class that is providing great leadership and I believe will carry us through a challenging schedule.

“We return a strong core of players, especially at the defensive end and the face-off X, and the team has been working very hard to improve the quality of everything we do. I believe that we can be very competitive this spring.”

“We believe that our future is bright and we are building something significant and exciting here at Penn. We have a new staff, a new Ivy League postseason tournament, a $100-plus million facility improvement, and strong support from our administration and alumni. We fully intend to establish the University of Pennsylvania men’s lacrosse program as a leader in the Ivy League and on the national level.”

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