Natick’s Girls Soccer Captains Aiming For Deep Run In Tourney

Ken Hamwey Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
November, 2018
Article Body: 

Tournament time has arrived and that thought really gets the juices flowing for the Natick High girls soccer team.
Last year, the Redhawks entered the playoffs undefeated and their record heading into their Sectional semifinal game against King Philip Regional was 18-0. But, unfortunately for Natick, its season ended abruptly as the Warriors pulled out a 2-1 victory. That defeat not only shocked the players and coach James Blackwell, but it also created a temporary mood of disappointment and dejection.
That was November 2017, but it’s a year later now and new coach David Wainwright and his squad are ready for another playoff run. And, they’d like the ride to last a bit longer.
The Redhawks’ senior captains, Hailey Murphy and Alex Campana, have been dynamic leaders this year and they’ve played integral roles in their team posting a 7-1-3 record and getting Natick in position for what likely will be another serious run in the playoffs.
Murphy is a defending midfielder and Campana plays as a forward and an attacking midfielder. Both are 17 and both are National Honor Society students. And, although Murphy is still mulling where she’ll attend college and if she’ll play soccer at that level, Campana has verbally committed to Marquette University in Michigan where she’s earned a scholarship to play soccer.
Besides athletics and academics, both girls are involved with other school activities. Murphy is president of the student council and treasurer of her class while Campana assists in a mentorship program.
They’re quality captains and they take their roles seriously. They’re focused, they lead by example, by being vocal and by encouraging all players. They like what they see in this year’s squad and they’ve both moved on from last year’s unexpected exit in the tourney.
“Losing to King Philip was a wake-up call,’’ said Campana. “What’s important is that we know what we did well and where we were effective in that game. It’s past history and this year’s goal is to move forward and try to go deeper in the tourney.’’
Murphy admits that the loss was “overwhelming and difficult to comprehend.’’ But, her perspective this season is refreshing.
“It’s a new year, we’re a new team and our coach is new,’’ she emphasized. “We know we’ll face strong and competitive teams, like King Philip, but we’ll strive to go further. We lost 10 seniors from last year but the seven seniors playing now along with our freshmen, sophomores and juniors all have talent and we’re all on the same page.’’
Campana said there’s a lot to like about the 2018 squad. “The players have a high soccer IQ, they’re skilled, athletic and coachable, and they’ve got passion for the sport,’’ she said. Murphy adds versatility to the list. “We can adjust to a variety of positions,’’ she noted. “And, we can adapt to different situations. We’ve got excellent role players.’’
Both captains not only like their new coach, but they’re also enthusiastic about his style and approach. “Coach Wainwright is competitive and he’s a terrific motivator,’’ said Murphy, who’s also a captain in basketball. “He’s bonded quickly with the players and his game strategy is really good.’’
Campana labels Wainwright “a huge asset who’s tactically skilled.’’ She likes his phrase “adapt and overcome’’ and also admires the way he leans on both his captains for leadership.’’
The 5-foot-8 Campana showed plenty of leadership when Natick played Brookline last year. She scored the only goal of the game. “We played Brookline under the lights and beat them,’’ she recalled. “They’re a solid team. I was able to get off a strong kick from the corner that traveled about 10 yards.’’
The 5-foot-9 Murphy rates matches against Brookline this year and last year’s loss to King Philip as two of her best outings. “We beat Brookline, 2-1, and I pushed myself on both offense and defense,’’ she said. “In the loss to KP, I focused on defense and I felt I was effective in that area.’’
Both players have similar views on their top thrills in soccer. Murphy says she was delighted to make the team as a sophomore and get an opportunity to play in the playoffs. She also rates her selection as a captain as another thrill. Campana says she was thrilled to be chosen to the squad as a freshman and “very honored’’ to be a captain.
Their statistics may not seem dynamic through 11 games — Campana has 6 goals, 4 assists; and Murphy, 1 goal, 1 assist — but don’t be fooled. Their leadership, skills and their effort will be valuable commodities in the tourney.
Murphy and Campana no doubt will display a controlled aggressive style in midfield. “My style is aggressive when it comes to passing and shooting,’’ said Campana, who’s twice been named a Bay State League all-star. “I like to make the players around me better. I’d like to think I’m an effective passer and solid in my dribbling skills.’’
Murphy is cut from the same cloth. She’s aggressive in the defensive end and also in up-field situations. “I like an up-tempo pace and if I win a tackle, my aim is to pass effectively so we maintain possession,’’ she said.
The captains have a similar competitive philosophy. They thrive on reaching their potential and competing against high-level teams. They also list winning as a priority and also rate enjoyment as a must when undertaking an athletic experience.
As honor students, Murphy and Campana know how to handle academics. But, they’re also sharp in learning valuable lessons in an athletic venue. “Overcoming adversity is a life lesson that sports teaches,’’ said Murphy. “Other things I’ve learned are how to adapt, how to work as a team, how to be a leader and to accept responsibility and be accountable.’’
Campana firmly believes that sports have helped her hone her leadership skills. “Time management is also a great lesson learned in athletics,’’ she noted. “Athletics also teach how to be a good teammate. It’s important to help players get up when they’re down.’’
Neither captain dwells on statistics and that’s obvious. Murphy has one goal and two assists this season and Campana has four goals and five assists. They’re team players and they compete with a team-first attitude.
Their coach agrees and he’s obviously delighted to have them on board in his initial season as Natick’s coach.
“Hailey and Alex are very committed to being the best leaders and players for our team,’’ said Wainwright. “On and off the field they’ve demonstrated commitment to our program and to the soccer community. They’ve run youth clinics, volunteered to help for the local Natick Soccer Tournament and coordinated our program’s fundraising activities.
“They’ve been competitors on the field and both have accomplished a lot for themselves. But, they’re focused on this season. This is a game-by-game process. They know to take the season in stride, one game at a time. They consistently look ahead and are eager to improve. Both captains strive to make everyone around them better, whether it’s in practice or during a game. Coaching them has been a privilege and an honor. I’m very fortunate to have them.’’
Hailey Murphy and Alex Campana are not only top-notch role models and intense competitors, but they’re also the real deal. Enormous success in the tourney would be a fitting way for the soccer season to conclude for this classy duo.