Connor Murtha saw the numbers, looked at the personnel and knew that this season was going to have to be different. The Floyd lacrosse senior understood his role would have to change. No longer was he going to be Mr. Facilitator, dishing out assists. He would have to concentrate on scoring goals.
Murtha was one of three returning starters on a Floyd offense that lost more than 100 goals from last season. Those goals had to come from somewhere and Murtha’s stick was one of the more realistic options. With underclassmen, including some eighth graders, it was going to be Murtha with the ball, dodging toward the cage and shooting it more often than ever before.
“I was so used to the feeding side, doing a dodge and moving the ball right away,” Murtha said. “Throughout the season, I believed in myself and realized that I was able to dodge by guys and I started producing.”
Murtha quickly became the scoring threat that Floyd needed, notching 22 goals and 11 assists during a 6-10 campaign. He is Newsday’s Athlete of the Week.
“There were times where he would be on the field with one other senior, Nick Taiani, and it would be all underclassman with him,” coach Desmond Megna said. “You go from being the youngest kid on the offensive unit to, the next year being out there with two kids that are in middle school, a couple of other freshman, and maybe another senior or sophomore. He kind of had to step into that leadership role on the offensive side of the field.”
The shift started in practice, with Murtha needing to force himself to adopt a more physical style of play, willing away his unselfish instincts and taking the shots himself.
“I kind of knew that I had to be more of a threat and a dodger,” Murtha said. “In practice, I would be more aggressive with the ball, take a little more contact. I was trying to take a little more of myself into it and trying to score my own goals.”
The complete shift in style showcased Murtha’s extreme intellect, which extends far off the field. He has a 98.5 grade-point average and will be going to Farmingdale State College on a full academic scholarship in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Management program.
Murtha’s intelligence played a major role in his ability to, almost literally, turn into a different player and still remain incredibly effective. Smart in the classroom, smart on the field, Murtha does it all.
“It one million percent transfers over,” Megna said. “If you’re smart in the classroom, nine times out of 10, you’re smart everywhere and you can process things quickly and break down film a little bit better. It definitely transfers.”