As the daughter of a recently retired Marine officer, Murphy McDonough has become quite accustomed to pulling up stakes — the Norwell High senior captain and her family have moved 18 times.
But McDonough, and her younger sister, Maddie, lacrosse has served as a common thread from city to town, school to school, and field to field.
Now the McDonough sisters may have finally found a home in Norwell — at least until Maddie graduates next spring — playing lacrosse for coach Kara Connerty and her 21-3 Clipper squad that will take on Bromfield for the Division 2 state title Saturday aftenoon (4:45 p.m.) at Boston University.
Murphy said it was initially difficult for her and her sister to ingratiate themselves in the small seaside town of Norwell — the two were used to moving to towns situated near or on military bases, where people are constantly coming and going, and people can transition in and out seamlessly.
“This town was different in that sense, in that a lot of new people don’t really move to Norwell,” she said.
The McDonoughs found a second family with Connerty’s program, a perennial power.
“The lacrosse team, especially this year, there’s so much love,” Murphy said. “There’s no saltiness, there’s no bitterness, no jealousy, nothing. Everyone just loves each other and that’s why I think we’re so successful.”
The close-knit group has embraced the McDonoughs, who, in their youth, have called Virginia, California, Colorado, North Carolina, and Rhode Island home.
“We moved back and forth from these states several times too,” Maddie clarified.
Those moving days ended when their father, John, upon retirement from the military, accepted a position with General Electric, in Boston, and the family moved to Norwell.
“They really didn’t have much of a choice,” said John McDonough. “We did 24 years of active duty in the Marine Corps, as a family. When we moved to Norwell in the summer of 2016, that was our 18th move.”
Since birth, the girls have moved every one to two years.
“A lot of times we lived on base, so they would go to the Marine formal functions.”
Through it all, Murphy and Maddie have had lacrosse. The two first picked up sticks before middle school, in the second grade.
“We started in Virginia, then played in California and Colorado, which, lacrosse is not really a hot spot in those places,” Murphy recalled.
“We didn’t really get competitive lacrosse until we played for a club team in middle school. We didn’t really get the coaching, and the rivalries, and the exposure that Norwell, and Kara Connerty, and Massachusetts lacrosse gives us,” she said.
Added Maddie, “The competition wasn’t as strong as you see here.Getting better at lacrosse comes from being exposed to competition like you see in New England.”
The club program was XTeam Lacrosse, a program designed to develop girls who come from non-traditional lacrosse areas who want to play the sport in college.
Murphy is headed to the US Naval Academy, where she will play lacrosse. She said her father’s military service played a small part in her decision. In the end, she did it for herself.
“She started getting recruited by Navy lacrosse maybe four, five years ago,” said John McDonough.
“She went, and she visited and she did a couple of lacrosse games there and she loved it. She loved the marching, the order, the discipline and the hard work. I never ever pushed any of our kids to go into the military.”
Initially, she was hoping to play lacrosse with Maddie in college. And college programs were attempting to recruit the McDonoughs as a pair, after watching their chemistry play out at Jacksonsville (N.C.) High in the spring of 2016. In 14 games as a sophomore captain, Murphy recorded 50 goals, 17 assists, 115 ground balls, and 47 draw controls. Maddie had 56 goals, 18 assists, and 80 ground balls in 12 games played.
Two seasons later, their second on the Norwell varsity, Murphy, a 5-foot-6 attack, has racked up 73 goals, assisted on 24 more, and secured an astounding 140 draw controls. Maddie, a 5-8 midfielder, has 53 goals and 39 assists.
But Murphy realized she had a passion for leadership and service that made attending the Naval Academy the best choice.
“[My father] is a born leader, and the way he led was through example,” she said.
“He didn’t really talk, or say, ‘this is what I’m gonna do,’ he just did it.”
John McDonough impressed upon his daughters that receiving credit for their accomplishments should never be their motivation for action.
Murphy shows that attitude through a practice the military terms “servant leadership,” in which leaders set an example by doing the work no one wants to do.
“We put that into play with our team,” Murphy said. “The captains get the water and the balls [before/after games and practices] instead of making the freshmen do it.”
“When there’s not an aspect of individual want, then the team as a whole just works for each other,” she said.
Norwell has thrived in the tourney fueled by that team-first approach. In Tuesday night’s Division 2 state semifinals, six players scored in a 14-11 win over North sectional champion Newburyport at Babson College.
“Murphy’s favorite quote is, ‘It’s amazing what a team can accomplish when no one cares who gets the credit . . . ’” said Connerty after the win over Norwell.
“I just think that, from the beginning, was our philosophy and that’s why we’re here today.”
. . .
Under the direction of first-year coach Kelsea Cheney, a 2009 alum, and in its first season in Division 3, the Abington girls’ softball team (24-2) is taking on three-time defending champion Turners Falls in Saturday’s final at Worcester State.
A year ago, with Ernie Ortego at the helm, the Green Wave’s 25-0 season was derailed in the D2 South final by Norton.
“I think [Abington] was looking for someone who knows the game and was excited to join the program,” said Cheney, who played and coached collegiately at Southern New Hampshire University, as well as Emmanuel.
“They wanted someone who knew the potential in these girls.”
But the triumphant run to the state final was nearly derailed in May, when senior shortstop Jenna McDonough, a two-year captain headed to Southern New Hampshire, underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum.
Sophomore Lily O’Neil has stepped in at shortstop, while the team’s experienced players have replaced McDonough’s impact off the field.
“It’s tough to lose a player like Jenna,” said Cheney. “She has the bat, leadership, the defense. Every girl has been stepping up to fill the role Jenna left.”
Turners Falls (21-3) is one of the best hitting teams at the D3 level with a dominant freshman pitcher in Jade Tyler.
“We just keep saying ‘they haven’t seen us yet,’ ” said Cheney. “We’ve played a couple different teams in other divisions this season to see different competition. We’ve talked playing our style game.
“We want to keep the confidence we’ve held throughout the season.”
Saturday at Holy Cross
D1: St. Peter-Marian vs. Needham, 6:30 p.m.
D3: Austin Prep vs. Taconic, 3:15 p.m.
D4: Archbishop Williams vs. Oxford, 12 p.m.
Saturday at Worcester State
D1: Taunton vs. Wachusett, 6 p.m.
D2: Leicester vs. Greater New Bedford, 3:30 p.m.
D3: Abngton vs. Turners Falls, 1 p.m.
at Boston University
D1 East: Acton-Boxborough vs. BC High, 12:15 p.m.
D2: Reading vs. Concord-Carlisle, 10 a.m.
D3:Cohasset vs. Dover-Sherborn, 2:30 p.m.
at Boston University
D1: Walpole vs. Wellesley, 6:45 p.m.
D2: Norwell vs. Bromfield, 4:45 p.m.
at Newton South
D1:BC High vs. Belmont, 4 p.m.
D2: Milton vs. Hanover, 12 p.m.
D1: Lincoln-Sudbury vs. Belmont, 2 p.m.Correspondent Dan Shulman contributed to this story. Ryan Hathaway can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.