It is still too early to make a full declaration, but the McDaniel men’s lacrosse team is cautiously optimistic that Joey Conklin has the makings of a standout defenseman.
As a freshman, Conklin led the Green Terror in both ground balls (62) and caused turnovers (30) while making all 16 starts. Off the field, the Westminster resident and graduate is majoring in biology and mathematics and is one of three Dorsey Scholars in his class, which means he has a full scholarship that includes tuition, room and board for four years.
Coach Keith Euker said Conklin proved last fall that he intended to compete for a starting job.
“We knew he was going to be good, but you don’t know how someone is going to adjust to playing in our conference, and he took to it like a duck to water,” Euker said. “He played basketball and a multitude of sports and chose to follow lacrosse, and I’m certainly thankful for that.”
Again, it’s early, but Conklin’s numbers are reminiscent of those amassed by former defenseman Will Kroppe, who averaged 50.8 ground balls and 32.5 caused turnovers in a four-year career that ended last season. When Kroppe returned for the school’s alumni game in the fall and inquired about Conklin, Euker deadpanned, “He’s going to be better than you.”
But Euker acknowledged that Conklin has more work to do to catch Kroppe.
“I don’t know if you can really compare the two because their styles are so different,” he said. “But I think if you looked at their desire to compete, then, yeah, they would probably match up pretty well. They both have that highly competitive spirit where they take things personally. If something goes wrong defensively, Will would take it personally, and I know that Joey does as well. So we’re fortunate to have Joey, and we’re glad that he had a strong year, and I’m looking forward to watching him build on that.”