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Murphy's play inspiring for Corona del Mar

Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week

Princeton-bound senior, the MVP of the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions, is getting it done at two meters.

January 20, 2012|By Matt Szabo
(Don Leach / Daily…)

The tattoo on the inside of Diana Murphy's right foot means a lot.

At first glance, it might seem like an act of rebellion by a teenager. That couldn't be further from the truth.

The ink, which reads "Thar Gach Ni Eile," is instead a sign of solidarity. It is Irish Gaelic, and Murphy said it translates to "Family Above All Else."

Murphy's older brother, Jacob, has the same Gaelic phrase tattooed on his ribs. Her older sister, Kate, is also planning to get the tattoo.

"We're close siblings," said Diana Murphy, the youngest of John and Louise's three children.

Outside of the game Murphy is low-key and goes with the flow. She's the one who last summer in Hawaii also got a temporary henna tattoo on her back. It just said, "Sweet." It went nicely with CdM assistant coach Brian Mericle's henna tattoo, which said "Dude."

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In the pool, though, the words on Murphy's foot retain their meaning. Right now she is putting her CdM girls' water polo family above all else, as the Sea Kings strive for the Pacific Coast League and, ultimately, CIF Southern Section Division I titles.

Maybe now fans might understand why Murphy plays with so much passion. At times during last weekend's Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions, she appeared unstoppable at two meters.

Murphy was named the tournament MVP after scoring 12 goals. She had five goals in a 9-7 semifinal victory over Los Alamitos, then three more in a 10-8 victory over rival Newport Harbor in the championship match. She helped CdM (16-1) win the TOC for the third time, regaining its No. 1 ranking in the Division I poll in the process.

Even better for her team, her goals come at key times. In a quarterfinal win over three-time defending tournament champion Dos Pueblos, Murphy scored with three seconds left in the third quarter, evening the score after the Sea Kings had trailed most of the game. In the tournament final against Newport Harbor, Murphy beat a double-team to score with three seconds left in the first half. Then she struck again at the third-quarter buzzer after taking the pass from senior goalie Alex Musselman.

Murphy is headed to Princeton. Her play made her high school coach, Sam Bailey, look smart. She said her future college coach, Luis Nicolao, also was on the pool deck in Santa Barbara watching her shine.

Bailey called her "The Magical Murph" after CdM won the tournament. She is heating up; 24 of her 34 goals this season have come in CdM's last eight games.

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