Kieran McArdle

Kieran McArdle’s 97-second hat trick lifts Waterdogs over Atlas

By Wyatt Miller

Aug 14, 2023

The Waterdogs hadn’t scored in 20 minutes. 

With seven minutes left in the game, the Dogs led 9-8 after being held scoreless for the entire third quarter along with nearly half of the fourth. That’s when Kieran McArdle went rampant on the Atlas defense.

McArdle curled through X with his back turned to Brett Makar on the wing. After a little shimmy into the middle, his righty jump shot soared over Jack Concannon’s head to end the scoring drought.

“I thought when Kieran scored that goal, everyone was able to just relax a little bit,” said head coach Andy Copelan. “Concannon made a couple nice saves and we were a little snake-bitten, and when that happens you have to rely on your vets and I think Kieran kind of just recognized that and had the ability to kind of will himself to get us the momentum back.”

A natural lefty, McArdle went off-hand to score his first goal of the game. After that, the offense clicked back into place. The Dogs’ ball movement and decision making returned to that of their six-point first quarter in the 14-11 victory. They scored five in the fourth, and McArdle was at the center with three-straight goals in 97 seconds. 

Exactly one minute after his first goal, McArdle scored unassisted again. On the right flank, he faked the curl dodge and spun in toward the cage, leaving Makar in the dust. Then, he leapt through the crease, faked high, and finished low for one of the most acrobatic plays the veteran’s made this season.

McArdle’s crease dive made it 11-8, but he wasn’t done. After Trevor Baptiste won the ensuing faceoff, Atlas’ empty possession turned into a transition opportunity for the Dogs.

On the fast break, Ben Randall pulled up at the 2-point arc, but passed to Ethan Walker on the wing instead of firing the long ball. Walker immediately swung it to McArdle inside, who pump-faked and then finished sidearm off the turf.

McArdle single-handedly flipped the game on its head, as the Waterdogs took a 12-8 lead with just over five minutes remaining.

The 97-second hat trick put McArdle in the top eight in points (30) and goals (17), leading the team in both. He’s already secured his second-highest point and goal total in the PLL. 

Scoring droughts have been common and costly for the Waterdogs this season, who’ve had multiple 15-minute scoreless streaks. Often, it's a result of repetitive dodging and lack of transition success. With these three scores, McArdle succeeded in both of those concepts to ice the game. 

He flipped a switch in that fourth quarter, and it’s one he’s flipped before. In the semifinals last season, McArdle scored a 4th quarter hat trick en route to a championship berth against the Whipsnakes. As the offensive captain and a proven playmaker in the clutch, Copelan didn’t need to urge McArdle to get the offense back on track. That’s just who he is.

“He’s a guy that just rises to the occasion,” Copelan said. “I think he felt, I don’t want to say that we were tight, but things weren’t coming easy to us… I think that’s strictly who he is as a player.” 

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