Finishing Strong: Thomas McDonnell '10

Thomas McDonnellBy Alex Kantor

Amherst attackman Thomas McDonnell (Manhasset, NY) has been one of the most potent goal scorers in the New England Small College Athletic Conference during the last four seasons of men’s lacrosse action. The senior tri-captain enters Friday afternoon’s regular season finale once again as Amherst’s leading scorer.

When the Lord Jeffs take the field at Trinity College on Friday evening with hopes of earning a home playoff game in the upcoming NESCAC Tournament, McDonnell will be closing in on a pair of personal milestones. With just four more goals, McDonnell will have 125 scores during his Amherst career. If he can add eight more points before his final season comes to an end, he will pass the 150-point plateau.

Many who watch the Amherst lacrosse team play might think that scoring comes naturally easy for McDonnell, who often scores on quick finishes around the net. But those closer to the team know that he is one of the hardest workers on the team, and truly leads by example. During conditioning sprints, Amherst head coach Tom Carmean rewards those players who finish first in a run by excusing them from the remaining sprints. McDonnell routinely wins the first, second or third sprint, but always stays on the field to run next to his teammates. He always finishes strong.

After three games, neither McDonnell, nor the Lord Jeffs, had posted the kind of start to the season that they were looking for. Amherst sat winless at 0-3, while McDonnell had scored just one goal. After failing to score in two of the first three games of the season, McDonnell has scored two or more goals in every contest since. Amherst has won six times in the last nine outings heading into the final weekend of the regular season, and McDonnell has turned his game up to another level. In the last three games, McDonnell has scored 12 goals.

McDonnell’s impact on the Amherst program will be felt beyond the next few weeks as well. Over the last two years, the influence he has had on the next group of playmakers for the Lord Jeffs is very evident. Sophomore standout Evan Redwood (Lutherville, MD) learned one of the most important lessons early on from McDonnell. Redwood explains that “T-Mac was someone who showed that you can’t be afraid to make a big impact.” As a first-year with unlimited upside, Redwood learned from McDonnell that it doesn’t matter how old you are when you take the reins of a team.

Coach Carmean has seen a lot of players come through the program during his 11 year tenure, but it is very clear from speaking with him that few make him more proud that McDonnell. “Tom’s just been an excellent representative of the very best upside to college athletics. He’s always positive at practice, he’s a great teammate, and he has really led by example in the most effective way since he got here four years ago.”

If McDonnell continues to perform at the level he has been over the last few weeks, Amherst will have a great shot at making some noise in the NESCAC Tournament. If there is anything the results across the league have made evident this year, it’s that anything can happen once the two teams step inside the lines. Now, Amherst and McDonnell just need to take that knowledge to the field and finish strong.