Mike Murphy was hired in July 2009 and has spent the last five years as head coach of the Penn men’s lacrosse program.
Murphy's tenure has coincided with an upswing in the program's fortunes. Penn has made a pair of NCAA Championship appearances under Murphy, in 2011 and 2014, and hosted its 2014 first-round game with Drexel which was the Quakers' first NCAA home game since 1988. Penn was the fourth seed in the 2014 NCAA Championship, its highest seed since the 1988 semifinal team.
Penn also has made the postsseason Ivy League Tournament three of the last four years, winning the tourney title in 2014 with victories over Cornell and host Harvard. The Quakers' other appearances came in 2011 and 2013. In Ivy regular-season play, Penn went 4-2 in both 2011 and 2014; prior to Murphy's arrival, the program went 4-2 in Ivy play just once from 1990-2010.
A strong schedule has also been one of Murphy's points of emphasis at Penn. The Quakers boasted the nation's No. 1 overall Strength of Schedule (SOS) in 2012, the No. 2 overall SOS in 2013, and the No. 6 SOS in 2014 (behind four ACC schools and Johns Hopkins).
After a fairly pedestrian first season under Murphy in 2010, the program made a giant leap forward in 2011. Penn went 8-7 overall, and earned its first NCAA Championship appearance since 2006 before falling in the first round to fourth-seeded Notre Dame. The Red and Blue also placed second in the Ivy League standings, its best finish since 1989. The 2011 season was highlighted by wins over defending NCAA champion Duke (Penn held the Blue Devils to three goals, their fewest in a game since 1986), a Bucknell team that finished the year ranked in the Top 10 nationally, and Princeton (Penn's first over the Tigers since 1989). Penn ranked as high as ninth in the USILA national coaches poll, and at the end of the season the Quakers had five players earn first or second-team All-Ivy, their best representation since 1999.
The 2012 season was one filled with hard luck. Playing the most difficult schedule in the country, the Quakers were done in by several one-goal losses -- many of those coming in the game's final seconds -- and were unable to gain a second straight postseason berth.
2013 saw a reversal of those 2012 fortunes. Penn went 8-5 overall, advanced to the Ivy League Tournament for the second time in three seasons, and led the nation in goals-against average despite playing a schedule that ranked second nationally in terms of strength. At the end of the season, three players earned first-team All-Ivy, the first time that had happened since 1984, and six players received All-Ivy recognition of some kind (the most since 1986).
A senior-laden 2014 squad added another chapter to its legacy, going 11-4 overall which was one win shy of the program mark (12, set in 1984). That included an eight-game win streak leading into NCAA play, four of which came in Ivy play which was the program's longest conference win streak since 1988. Brian Feeney, Zack Losco and Maxx Meyer all received third-team USILA All-America honors, the first time Penn had three first-, second-, or third-team All-Americans in the same season since 1984 (and just the fourth time in history, the others being 1977 and 1928). Those three also received All-Ivy recognition along with teammates Alex Blonsky and Matt McMahon, with Feeney and Losco becoming the program's first two-time first-team All-Ivy picks since 1993.
“We are excited to get a coach of Mike’s caliber to Penn,” said Penn’s director of athletics, Steve Bilsky, at the time of Murphy’s hiring. “The success he has had as a head coach at Haverford College has made a lot of people in lacrosse circles take note, and his experiences as an assistant coach prior to that lead us to believe that he will step in and have the same kind of impact on our program.”
"I am ecstatic to return to Penn as the head men's lacrosse coach,” said Murphy at the time of his hiring. “It is a world-class institution that attracts top student-athletes, and I am excited to work with the program’s talented players. This is a great opportunity for me professionally, and my family and I look forward to joining the Penn community. I want to thank Steve Bilsky and his staff for this opportunity."
Murphy is no stranger to Franklin Field, having been an assistant coach with the Quakers in 2001 (as defensive coordinator) and 2002 (as offensive coordinator). Penn’s 2002 squad went 9-4 overall, at the time the program’s best record in 13 seasons.
Most recently, Murphy spent the last seven years at Haverford College where he took the program to unprecedented heights. The Fords steadily improved every year under his leadership, and Murphy will depart Haverford with 63 career wins which is one shy of the school record held by program founder Dana Swan.
Following a 2008 campaign in which the Fords posted a school-record 11 wins, ranked as high as sixth nationally and earned the program’s first NCAA Championship berth, Murphy’s 2009 squad won 13 games, captured its first Centennial Conference regular-season title, and earned its second NCAA bid. Haverford hosted a second-round NCAA game and finished the year ranked 11th in the nation by the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA).
In 2003, Murphy’s first year at Haverford, the Black Squirrels tripled their win total from the previous season and were rated as the second most improved team in Division III by laxpower.com. In 2004, Haverford notched its first victory over a top-10 team with a 9-5 defeat of Franklin & Marshall, had its first national player of the week in John Michals, and recorded its best record since 1997. In 2005, the Black Squirrels finished in the top 30 of laxpower.com’s Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) and tied their single-season mark for wins, recording the program’s first back-to-back winning seasons since 1992 and 1993. In 2006, Murphy guided Haverford to its first 10-win season, and led the team to its first national ranking and postseason appearance. The next year saw the Fords make it back to the Centennial Conference playoffs.
Prior to his assistant coaching stint at Penn, Murphy was an assistant coach at the University of Virginia from 1993-97, coaching in the 1994 and 1996 national championship games and three semifinals. He also spent the 1992 season at Brown University, coaching a team that held a top-10 national ranking and was an NCAA quarterfinalist.
Murphy has been a member of the Division III NCAA Championships Committee since August 2005, serving as its chair since 2006. He is also a board member of the Intercollegiate Men’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IMLCA), and coached the South Team at the 2005 Division III North/South All-Star Game.
Murphy attended Duke University, where he was a three-year starter (one as a long stick middie, two at closed defense) for the nationally ranked Blue Devils and captain of the 1991 team. He graduated with a degree in history and political science. Murphy also holds a master’s degree in higher education management from Penn, earned in May 2004.