Senior midfielder Connor Kelly was hyped up to become the first Terrapin lacrosse player selected with the first overall pick in the Major League Lacrosse draft in 12 years, but it did not come to fruition.
Just like the US Lacrosse men’s national team selection, Trevor Baptiste once again beat out Kelly for what this time was the No. 1 MLL draft selection. Baptiste is known for being one of the most dominant faceoff specialists in college lacrosse history and made Team USA to compete in Israel in the FIL Championships this Summer, while Kelly missed out during the final cuts.
Joe Walters remains the only Terrapin to be selected with the No. 1 overall pick, selected by the then-Rochester Rattlers in 2006.
Kelly has been playing lights out in recent weeks, scoring 15 points in his last two games. The Easton, Conn. native earned his third Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors after posting a balanced eight point (four goals, four assists) performance in the 11-10 win against Rutgers.
His 60 points (32 goals, 28 assists) through the first 11 games of the year have already surpassed his last season’s total of 57 points (46 goals, 11 assists).
Three Terps were taken after the first two rounds of the draft, more than any other school. The No. 2 Albany Great Danes were the only other school with multiple players drafted within the first two rounds, as Connor Fields fell to No. 3 and Kyle McClancy was taken 10th overall.
The Maryland men’s lacrosse team has had more players drafted (31) into the MLL than any other team since 2011, and are tied for second all time along with Virginia with 52, while Syracuse leads all schools with 61 overall.
“It is something that you’re proud of the guys obviously to play professionally,” head coach John Tillman said. “That’s something they’re very passionate about and is really exciting for them.”
Rutgers senior attackmen Jules Heningburg was the only other Big Ten player selected in the first round, picked at No. 7 by the Florida Launch. The Scarlet Knights had two other players drafted during the first three rounds.
Currently, the No. 1 Terps are well represented throughout the league, having had the most all-star players selected in last summer’s game.
“We’ve had so many guys drafted and playing and doing well in that league and still able to have really successful careers off the field,” Tillman said. “I think that’s probably something I take a lot of pride in.”
While it’s quite the honor to get selected into the lacrosse’s premier professional league, MLL is still known as a semi-professional sports league. This means many of the players have to secure jobs outside of lacrosse to compliment their desire to play lacrosse at the highest level on the weekends.
“We have some guys coaching or working in the finance industry, yet they’re still up to do something they’re passionate about,” said Tillman. “Mike Dunn, Michael Earhardt and some of those guys in the finance world and then you have some guys like [Maryland defensive coordinator] Jesse [Bernhardt], [Penn State offensive coordinator] John Haus in the coaching world.”
Former Johns Hopkins midfielder and one of the faces of lacrosse Paul Rabil is the only millionaire lacrosse player, making all his revenue from the game. While pro Terps haven’t seen as much financial success, they’ve made it work to play the game they love.
“They’ve been able to make it work and they’re able to do it at such a high level,” Tillman said. “We’re thrilled for those guys and it’s neat for them to hear their names called. It’s not something I think they perceborate on, but I think it is kind of a neat thing for them.”
Two Terps were selected in the second round, as the Charlotte Hounds selected senior midfielder Tim Rotanz with the 12th overall pick. Rotanz will join notable former Terrapin midfielders Mike Chanenchuk and John Haus, as well as Maryland all-time leading scorer Matt Rambo. The Ohio Machine grabbed Bryce Young with the No. 15 pick.
Senior two-way midfielder joined Rotanz as another Charlotte Hounds selection with the 48th pick. Two picks later, senior goalie Dan Morris continued the long reign of professional Terrapin goalies as he was selected with the 50th pick by the New York Lizards. Maryland will now boast four professional goaltenders, as Brian Phipps, Niko Amato and Kyle Bernlohr all have contributed significant time between the pipes.
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