Haley Murray always makes her presence known as a member of the North Haven girls’ lacrosse squad. A senior captain midfielder, Haley excels whether she’s patrolling the offensive or defensive side of the field with the Indians, although she admits that defense is her specialty.
“Playing in the midfield is like playing both offense and defense, so you get a good taste of scoring, assisting, and running plays on the offensive end. But I’m also always hustling back to play defense,” says Haley. “As a midfielder, you’re getting both sides of the ball. I like defense better because I would consider myself a better defensive player. I put 100 percent into my defense. I’m always 100-percent there. Defense is definitely my forte.”
Haley typically matches up against the opposing team’s top offensive threat. She’s constantly on their hip and takes great pride in shutting them down. Haley says that her experience in basketball—which she played during her first three years of high school—has had an immense impact on her defensive skills as a lacrosse player.
“I’m going to have to give credit to basketball. I inherited a lot of things there and brought them to the lacrosse field, which is the main reason I’m playing 1-on-1 versus their high scorers,” Haley says. “Defensive tactics in basketball made me quicker on my feet, which is why I’m always up against the better girls on the other team.”
North Haven Head Coach Lois Frankforter has seen Haley take her game to a new level this year. Frankforter knows that Haley’s strong play is one of the reasons why the Indians are having such a solid season this spring.
“She is fast, quick, and tireless, so when we have a difficult player we need to closely mark, we assign Haley to that person. Defensively, she’s very strong, quick, and tenacious...It’s great when a good player just keeps getting better,” says Frankforter, whose team is 7-5 and recently qualified for states for the third straight season. “She is really quick and has a good sense of the field. She is able to size up other players very quickly to get their number in the sense of what kind of threat they are and how to best defend them. On attack, she just is deceptive in her moves. If she has a small opening, she’ll capitalize on it.”
When it comes to her offensive mindset, Haley says that she takes what the opposition’s defense gives her. Even when she doesn’t have the ball, Haley does a great job of finding open space to help create scoring chances for both herself and teammates.
“If I’m open, I’m cutting, catching, and shooting. We have a lot of girls that are strong driving, but I don’t consider that my strength. I consider myself more of a cut-and-receive-the-ball player,” says Haley. “I feel like I need to be 100 percent about the shots that I’m taking. I don’t want to force anything. I feel as if I’m good with my shot placement, which has made me successful.”
Haley is looked upon to lead the Indians as one of their three captains this season. Haley wanted to hold that role ever since her freshman year, and she felt thrilled when she was called upon to lead the team as a senior.
“Being one of the leaders is what I wanted to do. It’s such a great accomplishment,” she says. “I’m one of three and it does get stressful figuring out where practice is and how we’re letting everyone know. It’s also very easy sharing the load with girls that you’re friends with. It’s a lot easier for us to work together and knowing that they’re always there to help.”
Haley will be attending Keene State in New Hampshire this fall. Haley isn’t certain about the next chapter of her athletic career, but she may wind up playing lacrosse at collegiate level.
“I’ve had contact with the lacrosse coach there and I’m considering it. Obviously, as a freshman in college, you’re starting new, so I didn’t want to look into college for just lacrosse,” Haley says. “I looked into schools I liked academically and the coach there just happened to reach out to me and said, if I wanted to play, she’d love to have me. We’ll see what happens if I’m comfortable enough with my schoolwork.”