Connor Casey

Army lacrosse captain considered worth the risk

by Connor Casey June 06, 2013 in Lacrosse

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Every professional sports team is taking a risk when they draft an athlete from a military academy. But in the case of Senior CLASS Award winner Brendan Buckley, one team decided the risk was worth it.

With the 54th pick in the 2013 Major League Lacrosse Draft, the Boston Cannons selected Buckley, Army’s top-rated defenseman. Team vice president and general manager Kevin Barney talked about his thought process for Buckley.

“It is always a risk in selecting a military guy as to where their career will take them, but we felt the risk and reward with Buckley was well worth the chance,” Barney said in a blog on the team’s website.

When looking back on Buckley’s collegiate career at West Point, it’s not hard to see why Barney and the Cannons were willing to take a chance with him. While a Black Knight, Buckley was named the Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year both in lacrosse and in overall sports, as well as being selected a two-time Academic All-Patriot League Team honoree, three-time Academic Honor Roll recipient and named a Dean’s Pentathlete after maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.987.

On the field Buckley averaged two forced turnovers per game, accumulating 23 ground balls and 30 turnovers while being a team captain during his senior year.

Along with academic prowess and a laundry list of Patriot League awards, Buckley’s ability to handle tough competition was what caught the eye of Boston Cannons coach Steve Duffy. Duffy noticed that Buckley always seemed to be covering the opponent’s best player.

Buckley successfully held Colgate’s Peter Baum – another Senior CLASS Award finalist – scoreless in their meeting. Considered by some to be the best scorer in collegiate lacrosse, Baum scored 33 goals in 2012.

Buckley also was an active member of his community while studying at West Point. Along with the other members of his battalion, he started a cadet mentorship program where cadets would visit local elementary schools to read and play sports with kids.

Buckley would describe his motivations in a 2011 interview with the Times Herald-Record.

“I think it’s just an intensity,’’ Buckley said. “I am physical. I try to be aggressive. I have grown to be more of a takeaway defenseman, but that is not what Army defense is and that is not what I am all about. I am about helping other defensemen on the field, and make sure that I have my matchup taken care of.”

On May 18, Buckley played in his first professional lacrosse game, picking up a ground ball and helping the Cannons get their first win of the season, beating the Chesapeake Bayhawks in a 15-14 overtime win.