- HIGHSCHOOL - A Tribute to Murph

Wednesday, July 16
A Tribute to Murph

The Holy Cross (Worcester, Mass.) men's lacrosse team hasn't had much to cheer about this season. The Crusaders are just 2-11 overall, 0-5 in the Patriot League, and with one game left this season, it looks as if there's little to play for. Not so.

Murphy's death, and the spirit with which the Winchester squad has used it as a rallying point, has been well documented throughout the Greater Boston area.
This Saturday (April 29), Holy Cross will wrap up its season with one of the most important local lacrosse games in recent history. In honor of former Winchester High (Winchester, Mass.) lacrosse player Joe Murphy, a Holy Cross recruit who died after suffering an allergic reaction to pistachios on July 9, 1999, Holy Cross coach Mike McCaffrey decided to move the Crusaders' final home game of the 2000 season from Worcester to Winchester High's home field.

Holy Cross will play Boston College at Winchester High at 2 p.m., with all proceeds from the game to go to the Joseph M. Murphy III Scholarship Fund. After leading Winchester to a state title in 1999, Murphy signed with Holy Cross, where his father and two sisters went to college.

"I think it's terrific," says Winchester athletic director David Berman of Holy Cross' decision to play its final home game in honor of Murphy. "It's a great honor for Joe Murphy. " We're looking forward to a large crowd. It should be a great day."

"We had to do something to show support for the Murphy family," says Crusaders men's lacrosse coach Mike McCaffrey.

McCaffrey is in his first season as head coach at Holy Cross, and didn't have a hand in recruiting Murphy. But when Murphy passed away, McCaffrey came up with the idea of moving one of the Crusaders' home games to Winchester as a sort of memorial. After pitching the idea to Winchester High lax coach John Pirani and Murphy's parents, McCaffrey went ahead and moved the BC game to Winchester.

"We just felt as though we had to do something," says McCaffrey. "We couldn't let a great student-athlete like that fall by the wayside."

Murphy's death, and the spirit with which the Winchester squad has used it as a rallying point, has been well documented throughout the Greater Boston area. McCaffrey says that Murphy was "a great kid from a great family," and his teammates have dedicated the season to him. Pirani will give a different member of the Sachems the chance to wear Murphy's former number, 22, during home games this spring. At the end of the season, Murphy's number will be retired.

So far, Winchester has played inspired lacrosse in the wake of the tragedy. Most observers felt the Sachems were the team to beat after capturing the Division 1 state title last year. They have yet to disappoint. Winchester roared out to a 4-0 start and has outscored its opponents, 56-18.

McCaffrey says Murphy would have been an important player for the Crusaders because of his considerable skill. Murphy was named to The Boston Globe All-Scholastic team last spring. And while neither Holy Cross nor Boston College have had much to cheer about this season - BC has dropped its last six games - the chance to pay tribute to Murphy has made it a hot ticket for fans of lacrosse in eastern Massachusetts.

"I think the lacrosse community in eastern Mass. is really behind this," says McCaffrey. "I think it's going to be a great day of lacrosse."

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