SCHENECTADY — He didn’t realize it.
But, in the absence of playing men’s lacrosse games for Union College, junior Keaton McCann had forgotten about the anxiousness he felt prior to a matchup — and how much he liked that feeling.
“It’s crazy — we’d been waiting for so long and you forget what it feels like to prepare for a game,” McCann said Tuesday in a phone interview. “You play over the summer, in the fall and during practice, and you’re excited — but you miss that feeling of the pre-game nervousness, the pre-game jitters.”
McCann and his teammates had those jitters prior to last weekend’s season-opening game at Plattsburgh State.
“And I think we, as a team, accepted that feeling — that we should be nervous, and we should use that nervousness to our advantage because it was bringing us energy,” McCann said.
Union did that, registering a 19-6 win against Plattsburgh, as the No. 15 Dutchmen opened their season with an impressive win — and a fantastic individual performance from the 22-year-old McCann, who is majoring in economics. McCann scored at least one goal in every quarter of the contest, and concluded the contest with six goals on his way to earning Liberty League Offensive Performer of the Week.
McCann and his teammates were scheduled to play Wednesday at Skidmore in their Liberty League opener, but that game was postponed Tuesday evening because of COVID-19 protocols when Skidmore postponed that matchup, plus several of its school’s upcoming baseball games. Union’s next scheduled game is now this Saturday against St. Lawrence.
Last weekend’s game was Union’s first since its 16-11 win March 11, 2020 against St. John Fisher. The wait of more than a year to play again, a delay because of concerns and restrictions related to the novel coronavirus pandemic, left McCann needing to focus ample energy on simply staying calm and in the moment during the Dutchmen’s season-opening win.
“With all the energy and the anticipation for that game, it was hard to stay calm,” said McCann, who is from Briarcliff Manor. “But, at the same time, we have a lot of great leaders out there that are helping us to stay on the right track.”
A variety of Union players starred last weekend. McCann led the way, but Brian Davis and Hayden Frey each scored three goals, while Peter Burnes added two. Kieran McGovern had a team-high three assists, plus a goal, and Sam Byrne won 20 of 25 faceoffs.
McCann said the nerves won’t be quite the same for Union ahead of its second game — but that the team’s enthusiasm needs to be the same as it was for its opening contest.
“For us,” McCann said, “it’s all about making sure we bring our energy and play hard.”