Casey Murphy of Bridgewater-Raritan, is the Courier News girls soccer Player of the Year

Casey Murphy of Bridgewater-Raritan, is the Courier News girls soccer Player of the Year

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Casey Murphy of Bridgewater-Raritan, is the Courier News girls soccer Player of the Year

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In a few years, Casey Murphy’s time with the Bridgewater-Raritan High School girls soccer team is likely to become just another footnote in a career that seems destined to take her well beyond the borders of Somerset County, the state of New Jersey and, perhaps, the country.

But before embarking beyond the varsity ranks, the senior keeper and her classmates had a goal to fulfill before she gets started on life’s dream.

Murphy, who will attend the U-18 National Team camp next week, will suit up for Rutgers University next fall knowing she reached the pinnacle of high school soccer. A four-year letterwinner who split time in net her freshman season, Murphy and her classmates set out to become the first team in the program’s storied history to win a state title, a goal they accomplished Nov. 23 at The College of New Jersey.

For someone whose soccer commitments have also extended to her club team, the national pool since the summer before her freshman season at Bridgwater-Raritan, and now Rutgers, it says a lot about her that her varsity commitments have always been just as important.

“High school has always been such a great experience for me and I love every minute of my school season,” said Murphy, the Courier News All-Area Girls Soccer Player of the Year. “It’s so much fun. You’re out there with your best friends playing a game I love. We all work for each other, which makes it even that much more enjoyable. We all have the same goals.”

Murphy certainly has no shortage of physical ability. The 6-foot keeper not only uses her height to her advantage, but displays amazing quickness in net, as well as a confidence and fearlessness that allows her to get to many balls other keepers wouldn’t even attempt. But for everything she does on the field, it’s her work behind the scenes that was just as crucial to the Panthers’ success.

“It’s more than her physical abilities. It’s the way the team gravitates to her and looks up to her,” Bridgewater-Raritan coach Chris Gerber said. “With all her national-team responsibilities, her PDA responsibilities and her Rutgers responsibilities, she still showed up at Tuesday-Thursday workouts over the summer. She was there to lead, she was there to motivate and she was there to give insight into other positions. We all know about her physical abilities and we all know about her great technical skills, but it’s her work ethic, too. She didn’t need to come to those (practices), and she was still going to start. She wanted to win, and that’s really what drove us to continue on.”

“I use high school as just another way to improve myself, and to help my teammates and help the team,” Murphy said. “Whatever I can do to help the team, that’s what I do. So if that’s working hard in practice, or being a leader and a captain, that’s going to help me this season and every other season.”

With Murphy anchoring the area’s top defense, a unit that allowed just 14 goals all season — only 12 with Murphy in net — the Panthers made a habit of shutting down even the most vaunted of offensive opponents.

With center backs Daniella Greco and Jenny Sitrin leading the line in front of Murphy and able to take more chances knowing who was prowling the box behind them, Bridgewater-Raritan went 16-5-6, reaching the final of the Somerset County Tournament before falling to Ridge 1-0 in overtime, and captured the first sectional crown since 2007. Two games later, the Panthers had the program’s first ever state Group IV title, thanks to a 1-0 victory over Montgomery in the championship game. For the season, Murphy stopped 131 of the 143 shots she faced, posting 16 shutouts, including five in six state-tournament games.

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