If you have attended any of the University of Dallas’ men’s lacrosse games this spring, your eye might have been drawn towards the familiar figure standing in front of the net, diligently organizing the Crusaders like he has for the past three seasons.
That’s Ryan Murphy, senior team captain and goalie for the men’s lacrosse team. But he probably won’t respond if you call him “Ryan” — since first grade, his friends know him only by the nickname “Smurf.”
Because of his humble demeanor, many might not recognize his spectacular athletic talent and the remarkable accomplishments he has achieved throughout his athletic career. He never mentions, for example, that he was ranked number one in saves per game for the entire nation in NCAA Division III lacrosse.
His accolades don’t escape the notice of his fellow teammates, however, who respect him as a team leader and a phenomenal player.
“[Murphy is] by far the best player on the team,” fellow teammate and senior K.C. Pierce said. “[He is] the most highly respected player we have.”
As he wraps up his senior year with the Crusaders and his lacrosse career as a whole, Murphy agreed to share a little about his history with the sport.
AM: How long have you been playing and what is your inspiration for playing?
RM: I’ve been playing since seventh grade. I got into it … because my brother started the lacrosse team at our high school.
AM: What do you think of the season so far?
RM: Rough start, but there’s a lot of good points to build on. In our last game, it didn’t go the way we wanted, but you saw a lot of guys fighting for ground balls and stuff, so there’s a lot more competitiveness than there has been in recent years.
AM: What have been some of the difficulties of being a captain on a new team?
RM: The biggest difficulty is that a lot of guys don’t have the game IQ there yet. So a lot of times it’s hard to direct them. You have to walk them through it a little more because they don’t have the experience.
AM: You’ve been here through a lot of chaos on the team, did you ever think of not playing or transferring to another school?
RM: I never thought about quitting lacrosse, but when our season got cancelled sophomore year, I did consider transferring to another school.
AM: What is it like being a student athlete at UD? Does the negativity about sports here ever affect you?
RM: It sucks, but I think most people come here because they’re more interested in the sport rather than that people like their sport. I think if people really wanted a huge student body behind them they’d be playing at SMU [Southern Methodist University] or something.
AM: All the players I’ve talked to on the team would agree that you are by far the best player. What would you say is the secret to your success?
RM: In terms of stick skills, just hitting the wall everyday, and as far as game IQ, I know where I need to be on the field a little more.
AM: What has been the highlight of your lacrosse career?
RM: I just liked being able to travel a lot. We’re not going to be doing a lot of that this year, but in high school I had a lot fun going with my friends and traveling to East Coast tournaments. With the Fields Of Growth program, I helped coach the Uganda national team.
With Murphy as their centerpiece, the Crusaders will look to overcome a weak start to the season by utilizing his experience and game IQ to help develop the younger players. The Crusaders will be playing next against Millsaps College on Feb. 28 at 11 a.m. here in Irving. Be sure to make it up to the lacrosse field to support the Crusaders and cheer on one of the best goalies in Division III.