By Mike Dougherty
Kevin McNally always knew the expectations were high on both sides of the front door, and he never seemed uncomfortable with the idea of living up to the advance billing that comes with a last name synonymous with success in lacrosse.
It was all part of the game.
“Lacrosse is everything in my house,” the Suffern midfielder said. “There are sticks everywhere. My dog only chases a lacrosse ball. It’s like a religion to us, and I hope people understand that having something that brings us together is very special.”
There is no escaping the advantage of being the son of longtime Mounties coach Dave McNally, but Kevin decided to pick up the ball and run with it on his own.
He’s become a player opponents struggle to match up with because of his size and strength. His high lacrosse IQ usually ruins any game plan that aims to lock him off. He’s obviously made a mark. The county’s head coaches selected him as The Journal News/LoHud.com Player of the Year in Rockland for a second time.
It was a nice way to end a season that nearly came apart early on.
McNally was playing in a non-contact winter league in New Jersey when a freak collision left him with a broken jaw.
“He came over to the sideline and I told him to get back in the game,” Dave said. “I thought he was faking. He couldn’t hit anyone, but Kevin was out there running sprints with us when practice started. He really has a lot of resolve. You really can’t breathe when your mouth is wired shut.”
Although he wasn’t in top shape, the injury resulted in only one missed game.
Kevin also has a history of ankle issues, and he suffered another injury three games into the season when he stepped on an opponent’s foot. It was only a minor setback. McNally limped along, then ran some extra sprints when the swelling relented, making up for lost time.
“That was the one game I didn’t have my ankle braces on,” he said. “I won’t do that again. It was all good in the end. I lost a couple of pounds because of the jaw, so that made me quicker.”
When Suffern, which went 12-5, lost to Mamaroneck in a Section 1 Class A quarterfinal, it brought an end to a unique father/son experience. Kevin began to miss Dave’s booming directives from the sideline only last week.
“I was helping out at Hurricanes practice the other day when I heard my dad yelling at somebody,” said McNally, who’ll play next season for the University at Albany. “I realized I was never going to hear that anymore. It was kind of sad.”
That’s because the relationship changes outside the lines.
“After tough losses, we’d come home and wouldn’t talk lacrosse at all,” Dave said. “It was just family stuff. Then I’d leave the dinner table and walk around a little bit.”
“There were times when it felt like he was singling me out, even though I knew he was getting on the other guys, too,” he said. “He’s always been two different people. And if we ever did talk about lacrosse at home, it was just as a dad.”
And that is the guy who will be in the stands for a few college games.
“It was a great experience,” Dave said. “And I know some people thought I favored him. I did. When he didn’t finish a sprint first or second, he ran more. When he missed a lot of shots, he stayed after games with me and took more. If he stayed out too late, he was up at 7 the next morning to lift weights. Those little favors helped Kevin become a better player.
“I was blessed to have a good kid. His mother did a good job raising him. I wouldn’t change anything.”
The rest of the all-county first team:
Kris Alleyne, Clarkstown South: The senior goalie was a game-changer, making stops, directing teammates and getting the ball out in transition.
Joe Buzzetti, Clarkstown South: The junior attackman took another step forward and now has to be considered among the best finishers in the county.
John Dugan, North Rockland: The senior attackman made the offense go. He was aggressive to the ball in transition and got teammates set up in settled situations.
Tom Ginty, North Rockland: The senior midfielder rarely came off the field, playing offense and defense and facing off when needed.
Ben Katzen, Tappan Zee: The senior close defender brought a physical presence to the field, but he was also quick enough to step out and shadow scorers.
Chris Leary, Suffern: The senior long-stick midfielder was a high-energy instigator, creating turnovers and helping on clears.
John Redgate, Suffern: The senior attackman was a catalyst with the ball, knowing when to use his feet to slip into a seam and when to keep the ball moving.
Joe Scheffield, North Rockland: The junior close defender has strong stick skills and often locked onto the opposition’s top finisher.
Bryan Wenke, Tappan Zee: The senior attackman was good on and off the ball. He led the Dutchmen with 29 goals.
Chris Woodburn, Nyack: The junior close defender missed part of the season due to an injury, but still ranked among the team leaders in ground balls. He also had two goals.
Coach of the year
Dave McNally, Suffern: The Mounties were undefeated in league play and extended their winning streak against Rockland County opponents to 24 games.
A – Brennan Ramos, Nyack, Jr.
A – Peter Sharp, Suffern, Sr.
A – Steve Vaccarri, Suffern, Jr.
MF – John Dapolito, North Rockland, Jr.
MF – Tom Sharp, Suffern, So.
MF – Zak Young, Tappan Zee, Jr.
D – Harley McNally, Suffern, Jr.
D – Brad Parrott, Suffern, Sr.
D – Collin Quinn, Clarkstown South, Sr.
G – Kevin Haggerty, Suffern, Sr.
Specialist – Tyler Doran, Tappan Zee, Sr.
Joe Back, Clarkstown South, Sr. D; Vinny Bernardone, Clarkstown South, Sr. MF; Matt Bosco, Pearl River, Fr. A; Kevin Dinnegan, Tappan Zee, Sr. MF; Brian Guerriero, Nanuet, Sr. MF/D; Nick Haubner, North Rockland, So. A; Lowell Hunt, Pearl River, Sr. G; Ryan Jelen, Clarkstown South, Jr. A; Ryan Johnson, North Rockland, Sr. A; Cian Lynch, Nyack, Sr. G; Brian Michella, North Rockland, Sr. G; Andrew Quigley, Nyack, Jr. A; Anthony Termine, Clarktown North, Jr. MF.