Though their team’s Ivy League Tournament status remains uncertain, Penn seniors Connor Keating and Kevin McGeary will assuredly continue their lacrosse careers past this Saturday's game against Dartmouth.
Keating, the All-American, All-Ivy long stick midfielder/close defenseman will be headed to Denver to join the Outlaws this summer, as he just became the team’s first-round selection in the 2018 Major League Lacrosse Draft.
The attackman/midfielder McGeary, an honorable mention All-Ivy selection in his own right, will be staying a bit closer to home, as the Malvern Prep product was drafted by the Boston Cannons with the 46th selection.
One of just two defensive players chosen in the draft’s first round, Keating was picked eighth overall, a testament to his body of work at Penn, a body of work that earned him the distinction of being the Quakers' first ever first-round draft pick.
The senior has been a star for the Quakers ever since his arrival on campus, recording a ridiculous 31 goals and 10 assists for his career. Nationwide, his two-way production has been unmatched, as, in addition to his scoring prowess, Keating has amassed 189 ground balls and 30 caused turnovers.
Still, his impressive resume aside, Keating did not necessarily expect to be a first-round selection.
"I was kind of shocked to be honest," Keating said. "[Playing in the MLL] always been something that's been on my mind. Ever since I was a kid, I've been thinking about it a bit, even though it didn't seem real at first. It still doesn't seem real."
Although his star power may not have been so readily apparent as a high schooler, Keating has proven his ability to improve each season, and he quickly established himself as one of the best players in recent Penn lacrosse history.
Additionally, he even transformed his role from that of a long stick midfielder to that of a close defenseman this season, proving that he’s willing and able to do whatever it takes to help his team win.
Just as that position change embodied Keating's team-first attitude, so too do his comments regarding this most recent accomplishment.
"I had no idea where I'd be drafted. I was just hoping that I'd go somewhere so that I could have the chance to play this summer," Keating said. "Obviously it was a huge honor to go in the first round, but I think that there were some invisible hands at work there. I'm sure coach Murphy was pulling for me as well as some of the other coaches I've worked with. I'm sure that they all performed favors on my behalf, and I'm really thankful for that."
As far as Keating's concerned, he's heading from one great program, here at Penn, to another.
"From everything that I've seen and heard, Denver is an outstanding organization. They have great players and were in the championship last year," Keating said. "They have a great coaching staff, and I spoke to their coach earlier this week, and he seemed pretty optimistic. It's far away, but I'm willing to try the experience. It's an awesome opportunity."
His fellow Quaker draftee, McGeary, has become a standout in his own right. Much like Keating, McGeary has improved each season throughout his Penn career.
He contributed heavily as a freshman, tallying 21 points, proving himself to be a future star for the Red and Blue. The next year, he bumped that number to 24 points before breaking out last season with 23 goals and 35 points after switching from the midfield to the attack.
This season, with at least one game still remaining, McGeary leads the team with 26 goals, and he's already matched last year's 35 points.
With just a single point in this weekend's game, McGeary will have improved on his totals in each season of his Quaker career, a truly special feat.
Despite these lofty totals, McGeary was less certain of his draft status than he was of Keating's. In fact, according to McGeary, he and his Penn teammates gathered to watch the draft together, expecting Keating to be picked early, but after a few rounds, the team stopped watching.
Only through social media did the team find out about McGeary's status, and from there, the congratulations flooded in.
"It was really cool to be drafted, but I honestly didn't know that it'd happen," McGeary said. "Just to have the opportunity to potentially play this summer is very exciting, but of course, I'm most focused on the end of this season."
Undoubtedly, the Denver Outlaws and Boston Cannons will be watching closely as their respective draftees take on Dartmouth this weekend, hoping that the play of Keating and McGeary for the Red and Blue is a sign of more to come.