Murtagh’s Play Out of this World

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Murtagh goes up for his signature header. (Photo/Aidan Lancaster)

Jake Moser

Murtagh goes up for his signature header. (Photo/Aidan Lancaster)

“Conor is one of many players this year that is doing his job well.  As a striker, one of his responsibilities is to score goals, and he has done that well, scoring 7 goals in 7 games,” said Coach Lee Delaney of his star forward, Conor Murtagh.  Murtagh’s recent success has aided the Rebels in their dominance of the Bay State League.

Last year, the boys soccer team went an astounding 13-2-2, which earned them the title of BSL Champs; however, an early exit in the opening round of the state tournament left them with many regrets.  On top of the loss, the team graduated several senior players who were essential to the team’s success.  These essential players include first team all-state stars Matt Niden, Steve MacAvoy, and Alan Garry, as well as key players like Cam McDonough and Chris Cerqueira.  Thus, when these players graduated, there were certainly some question marks in the lineup.  Thankfully, a number of returning players stepped up to fill the gaps left by last year’s seniors, including Murtagh.

Murtagh saw limited playing time as forward last season due to an overloaded roster, especially at the forward position.  At the end of the season, Murtagh told himself his senior year would be different.  “I wanted to make a big impact on the field this year.  I wanted to help the team in a big way,” said Conor.

Murtagh’s preparation for the 2011 season started almost immediately after the 2010 season ended.  Just like the rest of the team, Conor was upset with the way the season ended.  “I know we could’ve played better than that, we just didn’t play Walpole soccer,” said Murtagh.  Conor spent the entire offseason running long distances to get in great cardiovascular shape, as well as developing his ball skills which would later help him on his future scoring opportunities.

When this season came around, Murtagh was ready to do some damage, and so far, he has lit up the Bay State League.  So far this season, Murtagh has scored 8 goals in 8 games: 2 against Braintree, one against Natick, Newton North, Wellesley, Dedham, and Norwood respectively, and a goal and assist against Milton.  What’s even more impressive is the fact that he has scored most of these goals, not with his foot, but with his head.  Murtagh’s offensive contributions have helped the Rebels to achieve their current 6-0-2 record.

Murtagh’s season has been terrific, but the real question is why has Murtagh been so effective?  The answer is simple — aggressiveness.  “I’ve really tried to get after the ball this year,” said Murtagh.  “I’m really trying to push the ball deep into the offensive third of the field.”  And so far, this style of play has worked in Murtagh’s favor.  Opposing teams haven’t been able to stop him and until recently, no one has had an answer for the Irishman.

Teams are starting to notice Murtagh’s superb play and are changing their game plans to shut Murtagh down.  On September 20th, Brookline decided to double team Murtagh all game long.  This strategy proved successful since Murtagh did not score that game, the only game so far this season Murtagh has not scored.  Even though Murtagh didn’t score, he still had a great impact on the game.  Because Murtagh drew the double team, Brookline was forced to leave another Walpole player open for a pass.  This allowed the Rebels to score one goal to tie Brookline 1-1.

Thanks to Murtagh’s superhuman scoring abilities, the Rebels have found themselves atop the Herget in the BSL.  If they continue to play the way they have, the future looks bright for the Rebels, especially with scorers like Conor Murtagh leading the way. “If we continue to play like this, we will be a tough team to beat,” says Murtagh. “We only have one goal this year—to win it all.”