After balancing school and athletics for three and a half years, nobody would blame senior football players C.J. Mooney and Dave Twamley for relaxing their last semester.
Instead, the two are literally doubling down and playing their second Division I season of the year as members of the No. 11 Penn men’s lacrosse team.
The decision was easy for both.
“I have the rest of my life to hang out and not really do anything, so I figured why not be competitive and try to be successful one last time,” Twamley said.
Mooney agreed. “I played in high school and it was an opportunity to be on a great team and compete,” he said.
In high school, both stood out as stars in football and lacrosse. Mooney was the captain of both teams his senior year at Malvern Prep and led each to two league championships apiece.
Twamley was a three-time all-state selection in lacrosse and was named Conference Lacrosse Player of the Year during his junior and senior years at West Windsor-Plainsboro South.
Even back in high school, both had connections with current Penn lacrosse coaches. Coach Mike Murphy even recalls watching Mooney play in high school and talking to a few of his coaches.
“I had seen C.J. play a little bit in high school and heard a lot of good things about David in high school,” Murphy said.
Twamley was recruited by Penn assistant coach Judd Lattimore, when Lattimore was a coach at North Carolina.
In fact, Twamley thought he was going to play lacrosse. It was not until he went through football recruiting that he decided to play football instead.
By comparison, Mooney claims that he always preferred football.
“I went through lacrosse recruiting, but realized football was the passion at the time,” he said.
It was not until last spring that the two decided to try to play lacrosse this season. Mooney explained that he reached out to Murphy in May after he “realized that next spring there would be no more spring ball.”
Twamley similarly sent Murphy an email expressing his interest last spring, sending the coach a highlight tape as well.
Given that neither Twamley nor Mooney had played competitive lacrosse in four years, Murphy was reluctant to make the pair any promises.
“We weren’t exactly sure what they were gonna be able to contribute and we told them both that, and that if they were willing to work hard and do things the right way, there’d be a place for them on our team,” Murphy said.
So just eight days after their last college football game ever at Cornell, Mooney and Twamley joined the lacrosse team.
“It was tough at first but everyone has been helping us out so much,” Twamley said. “I thought I’d feel different being a new guy, but these guys have been so awesome and welcoming.”
He explained that both Mooney and Twamley have had to work especially hard to build back their stick skills.
“Stick work is not like riding a bike,” Murphy said. “You need to have a strong connection with the ball through your stick,” Murphy added.
Murphy has been pleasantly surprised by their contributions both on and off the field.
“They’ve been professional in what they do, they know how to win, and they understand the process,” Murphy said.
So far, only Twamley has seen playing time, competing in five of the team’s seven matches. He has been on the third midfield line and added a crucial point in an 11-10 win over archrival Princeton.
Though Mooney has not competed for the Quakers yet, he has played a crucial role on the scout team.
Mooney and Twamley have really enjoyed the social aspects of Penn lacrosse.
“Right now, we’re just one of the guys,” Twamley said.
The senior midfield appreciates the smaller size of the lacrosse team compared to the football team, which he claims makes it “more of a tight-knit group.”
Mooney has enjoyed “being an older brother in the locker room,” helping his younger teammates out with classes and offering them advice when necessary.
Mooney and Twamley agree that their football experience has eased their transition to lacrosse.
“We bring a football mentality to lacrosse,” Twamley said. “We may not have the best sticks but we’re athletes and we know how to win close games.”
Both may be thoroughly enjoying their lacrosse experience, but they’re happy with their decisions to choose football.
“I’m having an awesome time, but looking back I am really happy with how everything has worked out,” Twamley said.
Mooney agreed. “No regrets,” he said. “Three Ivy championships in four years says a lot at the end of the day.”
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