Huskers Bring Home Murph CupCharlie Murphy
, the Godfather of Yorktown lacrosse, passed away in 2005 at the age of 93. It was his $500 donation and open-house policy that gave birth and cultivated the program back in 1966.
This year’s 19th Annual Murphy Cup, which Yorktown won 10-9 over Lakeland/Panas at Lakeland High School on Saturday, marked the third game without him.
Murphy’s legend lives and grows through former players and coaches who knew him best. For most of the new age Huskers, however, there isn’t a definitive memory or personal connection with the man that was “Mr. Murph.”
But with all the visible tributes to Murphy on the Yorktown uniforms — “CM” patch on the jersey and a shamrock sticker on the helmet — it would appear that his memory is alive and well.
Yorktown junior midfielder John Ranagan, who scored the game-winning goal with 16.6 seconds left in regulation, even used eye black to draw a “C” on his right cheek and an “M” on the left cheek.
This kind of admiration and respect is more than just a formality — it is real.
To instill Murphy’s legacy in the next generation, Head Coach Dave Marr passed out a pamphlet at practice before the game.
“It talked about what he did for the sport and how he donated the first $500 for the team,” said senior captain John Froats, who scored two goals. “He let everyone come to his house. His backyard was basically their field. He had so much to do with the program.”
Marr, when questioned about keeping Murphy’s memory alive, said that it had actually been talked about between coaches, which resulted in the pamphlet.
Murphy lived off White Hill Road near Wilkens Farm. A long gravel driveway led to his expansive pastoral plot of land, which served as the breeding ground for countless All-Americans. So when Marr said that “telling stories” would be another way to keep him alive, it made sense in a folksy kind of way.
According to Marr, it is tough for players today, because they don’t have the same kind of contact with Murphy growing up.
“It was a real thing to have,” Marr said. “When you have it, you kind of take it for granted. Then it is gone and you have to try and keep it alive. Those kids got an understanding and they were excited to win it.”
One sure-fire way to make sure that the newest breed understands Murphy’s place in history is to breed them — literally.
Remy Lieberman, who floated the game-winning assist to Ranagan, is the son of 1975 Yorktown graduate and current JV coach Mitch Lieberman.
Ranagan’s dad, John Sr., was a powerful midfielder on Yorktown’s 1971 team.
Coming into the game, Ranagan’s dad told him, “You have to play hard all the time and never give up.”
“My dad said [Murphy] was a great guy and he helped him a lot,” Ranagan said. “He helped a lot of people’s games, but especially my dad’s.”
Clearly, the saying “a team is a family” isn’t just conjecture with the Huskers.
Froats even said that his older brother Ryan, a 2006 Yorktown graduate, made it clear about what the outcome had to be.
The outcome, in fact, was an exact reversal of last year’s 10-9 result, which saw the Rebels capture the cup for the first time since 1994. Now, however, it returns to Yorktown for the seventeenth time in 19 years.
Even though the Huskers seemingly absolved last year’s Murphy Cup loss by beating Rebels in the Class A sectional final, it wasn’t enough to keep senior midfielder Rocky Bonitatibus’ mind at ease.
“It didn’t bring the cup back,” said Bonitatibus, who scored two goals. “They stole it from us and we wanted it back.”
As a result, posters with slogans like “scene of the crime” were pinned up around Yorktown’s locker room.
So it was kind of understandable when Bonitatibus (pictured left), no longer able dam up the emotion, jumped the gun and grabbed the trophy with four seconds left in regulation. A senior year loss was almost unfathomable, especially after seeing last year’s seniors have to deal with it.
“I just wanted to feel it,” he said.
Yorktown, however, almost let Lakeland/Panas pull the rug out from under them.
Trailing 8-4 entering the fourth quarter, the Rebels rattled off five-straight goals to take the lead, 9-8, with 1:50 left in regulation. Attackmen John Fitzpatrick and Keith Rodriguez scored two goals apiece during the surge, while Jack Doherty netted the other.
“We realized that we could do it and run with them,” said Doherty, who had three goals and two assists.
Before the fourth quarter, Rebels Head Coach Jim Lindsay told his squad, “There’s no pressure on us, because no one expects us to be within four goals right now.”
The coach added that if Matt Semenza (defenseman) intercepts Lieberman’s pass — which nearly happened — then it is a fast break the other way and “we end up winning with 10 seconds left.”
“Freaking Charlie is always looking down on them,” Lindsay said.
While, of course, they look up to him.
Posted by: Isaac Cass