Not everything shows up on the stat sheet, but speed is always nice to have.
Speedy freshman long-stick midfielder BJ Farrare is making an instant impact for the Quakers, replacing the gap left by three-time All-Ivy selection Connor Keating after his graduation last year.
The Owings Mills, Md. native joined the Red and Blue (7-3, 5-0 Ivy) as a highly coveted recruit. Coming out of high school, Farrare was an Under Armour All-American and the No. 24 freshman in the country according to Inside Lacrosse.
“The family environment [made me choose Penn]," he said. “After a football game my senior year of high school, I came here and spent the night. I just had a good time and got to know the guys really well. It was a good fit for me and my family.”
When Farrare arrived on campus this year, he hardly missed a beat. As a potential economics or political science major, the freshman has put an emphasis on balancing his academic, athletic, and social life, which includes time playing Fortnite with his teammates.
Farrare is also one of three black players out of 49 on Penn's roster. While this is a pretty low percentage compared to other Penn sports, the Quakers carry a much more diverse team than what is typical in college lacrosse, as Inside Lacrosse reports that the percentage of black men’s lacrosse players has increased from 1.5 percent of players in 2000 to 3.5 percent in 2015.
“I feel like [the number of black players] definitely can grow in the sport,” Farrare said. “I’m just trying to give little kids out here that were just like me the opportunity to know they can make it in any sport as long as they put their mind to it.”
On the field, he transitioned to Division I lacrosse smoothly, continuing his excellent play from his days playing at the McDonogh School in Maryland. However, there are still some areas where Farrare has had difficulty adjusting.
“[My biggest challenge] has been knocking down passes,” Farrare said. “I can't do it as well as I did in high school. I’m getting better every day though."
Through ten games, Farrare is one of four rookies to have played in every contest this season.
“BJ and [midfielder] Sam Handley have played a lot and have played very significant roles,” coach Mike Murphy said. “[Attackman] Dylan Gergar has been a meaningful contributor as well, as well as [midfielder] Piper Bond. The four of those guys have played a lot of minutes, as much as almost anybody.”
Coming out of high school, it was apparent that one of Farrare’s biggest attributes was his tremendous speed. Utilizing this to the team's advantage, coaches and teammates believe he has the ability to cover any team's best midfielder.
“When BJ really kicks it into full gear, I don’t think there’s anyone who can catch up to him at all,” Handley said.
Despite being in the midst of his first year on the team, Farrare has already stepped up as a leader for the Quakers.
“His high school coach certainly spoke well about his intangibles and leadership,” Murphy said. “He knows his place — it’s not like he’s telling seniors what to do. He’s a vocal defender and he’s very diligent in keeping his body in shape, doing the extra work, watching the extra film.”
Faced with the daunting task of replacing Keating, a three-time USILA All-American, Farrare has taken the challenge in stride. Although Keating flaunted better stick skills, Farrare has made up for this with his superior speed and strength, generating leverage against his opponents.
“[Farrare] is so instinctive in terms of what he does on defense and getting up the field,” Murphy said. “He’s a little bit like Keating in that way that he leaks out and generates some of our fast breaks from our defensive end and gets a ton of ground balls in the middle of the field like Keating did. He’s very comparable in terms of the impact he makes.”
Farrare’s play has helped the Red and Blue maintain a seven-game winning streak and at least a share of the Ivy League title. Moving ahead, Farrare and the Quakers will look to sweep the Ivy League with a win against Dartmouth this Saturday at Franklin Field.