2022 Players Top 50: #11 Kieran McArdle
By Sarah Griffin
Dec 13, 2022
When I first spoke to Kieran McArdle this past August, the Waterdogs were preparing for the final weekend of the regular season in Seattle with sights set on playoffs the weekend after. With so much conversation surrounding McArdle all summer long as “the most underrated player in the PLL,” I couldn’t help but ask the attackman how much he actually cared about earning the proper notoriety.
“It’s all about winning a championship, that’s what it’s always been about,” McArdle told me. “An MVP title doesn’t matter to me, especially at this point in my career. I’m in my ninth professional season now and I still haven’t gotten that championship win under my belt.”
You’ve got to love a happy ending.
McArdle ended the 2022 season second in the league in points, first in assists, but most importantly, in his ninth professional season, Kieran McArdle became a champion.
“As a lacrosse player, Kieran’s relentless,” said teammate and Waterdogs captain Steven DeNapoli. “He’s been playing at the professional level for 9 years or so now, and it took this year, this season, for him to get the recognition he deserved over the years. He exemplifies the relentless attitude you need to succeed - he never gives up on a play, he’s the ultimate competitor.”
The do-it-all attackman pushes defenses into uncomfortable situations as they’re forced to try and balance covering both him and Michael Sowers. A goal scorer as a skilled dodger, McArdle shot 31% in the regular season and 44% in the postseason. He never shies away from the net.
On the flip side, McArdle’s equally as dangerous a playmaker as his stats reflect. The Waterdogs ranked second in the league in assisted goals scored with 82, trailing the Archers by one. Of those 82 goals, McArdle played a role in a league-leading 23 of them. His skill and vision as both a passer and scorer makes him one of the biggest offensive threats in the league.
For his teammates though, he’s so much more than an offensive powerhouse. McArdle’s a fierce competitor with a toughness to him you don’t always see out of attackmen.
“There’s a lot of aspects of Kieran’s game a young player could learn from, but I think the biggest thing is his toughness,” remarked DeNapoli. “Being an attackman isn’t all glory and scoring goals. Kieran battles for ground balls, he runs through checks, he’ll do whatever it takes for the team. He has this mentality you don’t often see out of guys with the skill and talent he has.”
McArdle and DeNapoli have been two integral pieces to the Waterdogs since the club’s first season in 2020, but their relationship goes far beyond that. Both played for the Atlas in the PLL’s inaugural season in 2019. Prior to that, DeNapoli’s brother Dom was one of McArdle’s coaches at St. John’s University. DeNapoli said seeing the progression of McArdle’s career from college throughout the pros made winning a championship alongside him even more special.
“After the locker room celebrations when the adrenaline came down a little bit, I remember specifically Kieran and I being the last 2 guys in the locker room and it was just one of those, ‘couldn’t believe it’ kind of moments. We just took that minute to talk to each other and be like ‘wow, holy sh*t, this happened,” said DeNapoli.
“Coming from an expansion team to a championship in 3 years, it just happened so quickly for us. It wasn’t something we ever really stopped to think about and really reflect on and that minute to reflect after the celebration in the locker room, having us be one of those original Waterdogs from 2020, it was pretty cool.”
A champion finally earning the respect he deserves, I of course had to ask DeNapoli one more question.
“Kieran’s rated #11 in the Players Top 50 this year. Do you think 11 is a proper rating?”
“No,” DeNapoli responded with no hesitation. “Not high enough.”
#50-#11 of the 2022 Players Top 50 are out now. Check back this week for #10-#1.