Cheryl Murtagh has been an all-star everywhere she has gone and is in line to receive yet another honor with her induction into the Northeastern Hall of Fame on April 13 at Matthews Arena, where the Huskies honor their highly successful field hockey coach.
Murtagh, who makes her home in Beverly, was a three-sport star at Bishop Fenwick before graduating in 1977, and her basketball jersey now hangs on the gymnasium wall. She went on to have a great field hockey career at UNH and was inducted into the Hall of Fame there in 2008.
She is also a member of the New England Women's Sports Hall of Fame.
A terrific midfielder, she went on to play for the national elite squad, which was composed of the top 30 players in the country. She has been an outstanding coach — the most successful head coach in Northeastern field hockey in her 24 years at the helm. She led the Huskies to 10 America East titles, including four consecutive conference championships and trips to the NCAAs 15 times. Murtagh has been named Northeast Region Coach of the Year seven times since the award was started back in 1995.
"This is such a nice honor, and I was surprised when my athletic director called me into his office to tell me," Murtagh said. "The ceremony will be held at the hockey arena and combined with the senior banquet. Jack Grinold (SID and assistant AD) traditionally presents the awards, but he has been sick so I don't know if he will be able to attend."
Murtagh, a UNH 1981 graduate, was an assistant coach for a year at Tufts and then spent two more at Bentley before coming to Northeastern, where she assisted coach Joan Broderick for four years before taking over the head job.
"It's been an incredible experience here," she said. "When you first start coaching anywhere, you don't know if you are going to stick around, but they treat the field hockey team very well at Northeastern. I have always had a lot of support, and there was never any reason to leave. I love working at Northeastern.
"We've had some very good years, and some not so good, but I have been so fortunate to coach so many great athletes. That has been the best part (of coaching) through the years"
Murtagh, who is seventh all time in D1 for most victories, shared the good news with her family, and she will have plenty of support for her induction.
"My mother has a lot of brothers and sisters, and my father's family will also be there. They all want to go so we will have a large group to help me celebrate."
Murtagh has been a great recruiter, and her strength at evaluating and developing talent has produced 39 All-Americans. When the team played in the Colonial Athletic Association (until 2005), the Huskies enjoyed 10 championships in the 14-year history of the tourney, and made three appearances in the Division 1 Final Four, including back-to-back in 1995 and '96.
In Murtagh's first year as head coach, she took the Huskies to their first Final Four. That team allowed only 11 goals in 22 games, and the 1992 team posted an incredible 14 shutouts. In 17 of the last 22 seasons, the Huskies have won at least one postseason game.
Murtagh has a 333-183-10 record, and the 2011 team was 14-8, losing to Penn State, 1-0, in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tourney. They set a school record for most victories in a season and had five All-Americans. Murtagh has worked with the U.S. national program for more than 20 years and, as head coach of the U-21 team, won the gold and collected two more gold medals as head coach of the U-18 team.