Before she ran off the field to cheers and applause from her family, teammates and fans, Elon University senior goalkeeper Kate Murphy reflected on a senior day performance she won’t soon forget.
“It feels like my entire career kind of came to a fold here on our own field,” Murphy said.
Her 11-save performance tied a career-high as the Phoenix snapped a five-game losing streak in a 2-0 victory against the University of Delaware on Oct. 12 at Rudd Field, the team’s first victory in Colonial Athletic Association competition and a fitting last home game for six seniors.
“It’s an incredible feeling to have these girls behind me. It’s a happy day for us,” said Murphy, who’s a Senior Sports Reporter for The Pendulum. She along with midfielder Marissa Russo, forward Raychel Diver, defender Caroline O’Dee, defender Bethany Houpt and midfielder Kim Gardner were honored before the game, Elon’s last home tilt of the season.
“Everything’s gone against them the last couple weekends,” Elon head coach Chris Neal said. “They’ve been solid leaders, stayed positive and kept the team fighting. They deserved it.”
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Murphy anchored a defense that was tasked with fending off 17 Delaware shots. She tied a career-high in saves that she set Sept. 21, 2012 against Western Carolina University, with the last of those coming in the final moments of the game.
Perhaps Murphy’s sharpest save came in the 60th minute when Delaware junior defender Maddy Parker sent a strike in from just outside the box. Murphy dove to her right and deflected it away.
“It felt great to finally get a shutout,” said Murphy, who’s split time between the pipes with junior Sydney Branson all year. “The defense really stepped up for us. They went into every tackle hard. We worked on not letting girls cut into the middle and giving them that open shot, and they took that to heart and defended with pride and defended with passion.”
Diver scored Elon’s first goal in the 17th minute on a set piece that was drawn up before the game. Elon employed two players to stand at the near post to try and shield the goalkeeper’s view of the corner kick, and it paid off.
Freshman forward Sydney Schilling sent in the corner, which bounced around in the box before Diver collected it near the left post and booted it into the net.
Schilling scored on a penalty kick, Elon’s first of the year, in the 33rd minute after sophomore midfielder Kara DeGuisto drew a foul. Schilling stepped up and put it to the left of the keeper for the 2-0 advantage.
Delaware loaded the box with chances early in the second half, but a retooled back line and Murphy consistently came up big.
Elon had lost each of its five CAA games thus far in its first year in the conference, most recently a 1-0 decision to Drexel University. According to Neal, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
“The team deserved that,” he said. “The last four games are games we played well enough to win, I just don’t think the ball bounced our way. Today, the chances went our way. I don’t think there’s anything Delaware could’ve done today. They just weren’t going to win the game.”