Peter Burnes’ trajectory over his four years at Union College has been impressive. But the senior attackman doesn’t have a set answer as to why it’s been that way.
There’s no denying, however, that Burnes has been a major contributor to the Dutchmen’s success, especially this season as Union (16-2) has advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III Men’s Lacrosse Tournament.
Burnes, who was named the Liberty League’s Offensive Player of the Year, leads the team in scoring with 55 goals and 23 assists for 78 points. It’s a far cry from his freshman year, when he appeared in nine of 18 games and had five goals.
One reason for Burnes’ improvement is growth. He walked onto Union’s campus at 5 feet, 9 inches and 145 pounds. He’s currently 5-11, 165.
“That helps a lot,” Burnes said of the additional size, “because the guys we play against are pretty big, so now I can handle it better.”
In his sophomore year, Burnes played three of five games and had one goal and three assists. Last season, in another COVID-abbreviated year, he played all eight games and contributed 15 goals and nine assists.
Beyond weightlifting, Burnes said he plays lacrosse with friends over the summers, but can’t point to any particular aspect for his increased production.
“The stars aligned,” Burnes said. “Sophomore year I was kind of the fourth attackman, played a little midfield, but hurt my shoulder near the end. Junior year is sort of when I came into my own, and playing with Keaton McCann and Hayden Frey, who were multi-year starters, helped.”
Burnes said his on-field partnership with McCann and Frey, which has carried through this season — the trio has combined for 197 points — is the real reason for any individual success he’s had. On Monday he was named the Liberty League’s Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season.
“Those guys are just incredible,” Burnes said, “and they could have taken more shots, but they always included me and made sure I got into the offense. Really, I still play off them. They make me 10 times better.”
Burnes said Union’s unselfishness has been a big reason this year’s team is just the third in school history to reach the NCAA quarterfinals.
“We probably have 10 guys who can go off and have three or four goals a game if they needed to,” he said. “I got the league’s offensive player of the year, but it’s really the whole offense that should have gotten it.”