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Unrelated, Brody and Jake McLean intertwined in 2019 success for Towson men’s lacrosse

Unrelated, Brody and Jake McLean intertwined in 2019 success for Towson men’s lacrosse
Brody and Jake McLean are not related, but the attackman and midfielder, respectively, are both juniors for the Towson men's lacrosse team, and their jersey number choice (Jake wears No. 6, while Brody wears No. 7) has led to a few cases of mistaken identity. (Towson Athletics)

The thought — however fleeting — has crossed their minds. What if Brody and Jake McLean of the Towson men’s lacrosse program pranked game announcers and observers and confirmed that yes, they are related?

“I definitely was open to saying something like we were long-lost cousins that just got reunited in college and miraculously found our way back to each other,” Jake McLean said with a laugh. “I was definitely trying to get Brody to joke around with me on that one.”

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Added Brody McLean: “We’ve thought about it. We haven’t yet. But we still might do it.”

So what’s stopping them? Apparently a sense of decorum and a commitment to duty.

“We try to just focus on the games and focus on doing our roles in the games,” Jake McLean said.

So to make it official, Brody and Jake McLean (think John McClane of the “Die Hard” movie franchise) are not related, nor do they look alike. The former is 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, dark-haired and left-handed, while the latter is 6-foot and 185 pounds, blond and a righty. They’re not even from the same country, as Brody was raised in Ontario, Canada, and Jake grew up in California.

But the pair muddied the water a little with their jersey numbers, with Jake wearing No. 6 and Brody donning No. 7. And there has been the occasional instance when a Tigers coach has yelled out “McLean” during a practice or game and had both players turn to him.

“I can definitely see that because we’ve already got two sets of brothers on the team in the Stouts [sophomore goalkeeper Jake and junior defenseman Eric] and the Gaegers [sophomore midfielders Riley and Carson],” coach Shawn Nadelen said. “It’s not foreign. So I’m not surprised about that with those two guys with the same last name.”

What isn’t confusing is how pivotal the McLeans have been to the success that No. 13 Towson (8-4, 3-1 Colonial Athletic Association) has enjoyed this spring.

Brody McLean has started all 12 games on attack and ranks second on the team in goals (27) and points (32). He has scored at least two goals eight times.

Brody McLean’s emergence occurred after a 2018 campaign in which he played in only three games and scored one goal. He acknowledged that it took him some time to adjust to the Tigers’ offensive philosophy after transferring from Stony Brook.

“I think probably when we got to the CAAs last year, I started feeling a lot more comfortable,” he said. “I stopped caring so much about the criticism and all of that stuff and just focused on playing lacrosse. Then I started feeling more comfortable out there with the guys.”

Nadelen said Brody McLean eventually became the best player on the scout team, mirroring an opponent’s top attackman to prepare the starting defense.

“I think he had a really strong summer playing box lacrosse, and he came back in the fall and was kind of like a different person,” he said. “He was playing with a lot of confidence. He was taking on our top defender, Koby Smith, in practice every day. Those guys just going at each other was awesome to see. It was making Koby better, it was making Brody better.”

Brody McLean has developed a chemistry with fellow starting attackmen Brendan Sunday and Luke Fromert, and said he has found a rhythm this spring.

“It’s really rewarding,” he said. “I just want to be able to impact our team the right way, and I’ve been able to do that this year fortunately, especially with the guys I’m playing with. We’re playing really well together.”

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Like Brody, Jake McLean opened the season as a starter, running as a first-line midfielder in the first eight games. But in the past four, he has been utilized more as a wing player on faceoffs and a short-stick defensive midfielder behind senior starters Zach Goodrich and Jimmie Wilkerson.

Jake McLean said the transition from offense to defense has not been jarring because he made a similar shift last season when he began as a short-stick defensive midfielder before moving to offense.

“Wherever a spot needs to be filled, I just try to adapt and do my best to fit whatever position they need filled,” he said. “If they need me on a couple of defensive reps because guys are gassed or if I have to go out there with the offensive guys and try to put one in, I’ll do it.”

Jake McLean said the introduction of an 80-second shot clock has heightened the need for two-way midfielders, which he filled in high school near his hometown of Encinitas.

“That’s kind of the way I grew up playing,” he said. “So I guess in the back of my mind, whatever I can do to help the team, it doesn’t matter whether I’m taking every offensive rep or defensive rep.”

Jake McLean’s versatility — which includes five goals, two assists, 23 ground balls and three caused turnovers — has benefited the Tigers.

“He’s a guy that we look to do quite a few things for us,” Nadelen said. “That might be putting a little too much on his plate, but he’s capable of it. So we’re going to use it if we need to wherever we need him. He’s developed, and he’s worked hard since his freshman year to get on the field.”

Jake McLean’s California roots have not aided his familiarity with Maryland’s cold winters. Meanwhile, Brody McLean thrives in the chill — but there’s a downside.

“It goes the other way around with the heat,” Brody said. “With the heat right now, I think he’s feeling a little bit better than me.”

Both McLeans have sisters, but no brothers. Jake McLean wouldn’t go so far as to call Brody the brother he never had, but he said the pair immediately bonded after Brody transferred.

“He’s definitely a good guy and someone I can relate to a lot based on our past experiences,” Jake said. “When he kind of came in, we already had something to talk about. We had to figure who was getting called McLean and who was getting called by his first name. So that kind of sparked our friendship in the beginning.”

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