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09142012_MSoccerVVallinova(Zoe) Credit: Zoe Gan , Zoe Gan

Despite his soccer team’s struggles this past season, sophomore Alex Murphy is sure to return to Penn in high spirits.

Murphy, who plays at center midfield for the Penn men’s soccer team, was part of the Lehigh Valley United ’93 team that won an under-19 national championship over the weekend.

The rising sophomore played center back for the team and was on the field when LVU scored the first and only goal of the game.

His team held their opponent, the Chicago Fire, to just six shots.

While Murphy played in games with Lehigh Valley, he trained with a separate under-20 team.

“The U20 team was all practicing … and this Lehigh Valley team was all games, and we didn’t really practice,” he said.

However, the team’s familiarity with each other’s playing styles and personalities helped spark their championship run.

“We all kind of knew each other from playing with and against each other for the last ten years,” he said. “I’ve been playing against all these guys since I was like 10 years old.”

What the team lacked in practice time, they made up for in commitment.

Many on the team were further motivated by the fact that the game was broadcasted nationally on the Fox Soccer channel.

“We all really wanted it,” Murphy said.

While this summer’s championship run was definitely fulfilling for Murphy, he is not sure what the experience will mean for his role with the Quakers. Murphy played in 13 matches last season and notched one assist, coming off the bench in each appearance.

“Playing center back is a lot different [from playing center midfield],” he said, noting the added importance of the position he spent the summer playing.

That spot has been filled in the past in coach Rudy Fuller’s defense by stars such as Jake Levin and Thomas Brandt, both of whom dominated games through the air.

While Murphy, who is 5-foot-8, may not have seemed like an intuitive choice for a coveted defensive position that is typically filled by taller players, he embraced the added responsibility.

“[As center back], you have to be more vocal and direct people on what to do,” he said.

Regardless of the impact this summer’s championship, Murphy is sure to value the victory, which was a long time coming.

“This is what I’ve been competing for for the last seven years.”

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