After winning the 2022 PLL championship with the Waterdogs last weekend, Kieran McArdle has captured that elusive ring he’s been searching for. McArdle has always been an under the radar player going back to his days at St John’s. But with his championship ring it’s time to start asking the question, is McArdle a hall of fame lock?
Kieran McArdle started his professional career after being drafted 5th overall to the Florida Launch of the MLL. He won Rookie of the Year after setting the MLL rookie record with 49 points (34G/14A). Even though McArdle won Rookie of the Year, he wasn’t even the biggest name on the Launch since he played one of the greatest to ever play, Casey Powell, who was named MLL MVP that season. Even with the individual success, McArdle and the Launch finished the season 5-9 and missed the playoffs.
McArdle followed up his stellar debut season with an even better 2015 season. He finished on top of the MLL with 47 goals and second overall in points with 65. Once again, even though McArdle was having a phenomenal season, the Launch failed to make the playoffs again and McArdle wasn’t considered an MVP frontrunner. “McArdle has got to be the best player nobody talks about,” is how Brendan McDaniels described McArdle.
In 2017 McArdle and the Launch were finally able to reach the postseason, largely in part to his 46 points in ten games. His 4.6 points per game was second best in the MLL that season. McArdle was finally able to showcase his talents in the postseason. While the Launch were defeated by the Ohio Machine in the first round, McArdle finished the game with 4 goals on 5 shots. Even after three strong campaigns under his belt and solidifying himself as one of the league’s top scorers, McArdle was named the 11th best player in the MLLs Top 25 players of 2017.
After another strong season in 2018, McArdle joined the PLL in 2019 and made his debut with Atlas. McArdle definitely struggled just like the rest of that Atlas squad and put up a pedestrian 25 points in ten games. During the 2021 expansion draft, he was selected in the 7th round by the Waterdogs. While McArdle was known as one of the league’s best scorers over his career, he ended up being the third attackman drafted by the Waterdogs, once again highlighting his under the radar recognition. His first season with the Waterdogs he scored 14 points during five games in the bubble tournament.
With the PLL and MLL merger, the record books were combined there became a discussion around where current stars ranked compared to those that came before them. The conversations focused around Paul Rabil, Rob Pannell, and others (rightfully so). But Kieran McArdle didn’t seem to even get his name mentioned at that time. While he still had some work to do, before the 2021 season, McArdle was 19th all-time on the professional (outdoor) lacrosse scoring list with 222 goals and and 21st in points all-time, which seemed to be just outside the conversation.
With a strong 2021 season, McArdle was creeping close to the top 15 in goals and points. With McArdle starting to get recognition, there was still one thing missing from his resume, a championship. After a great regular season and finishing with the top seed, it seemed like McArdle had a real shot at a title. Unfortunately for him and the Waterdogs, they were defeated by the Whipsnakes in the semifinals.
Entering 2022, the Waterdogs were one of the favorites to win the PLL championship and with a healthy Michael Sowers back, he was the big storyline for the Waterdogs offense. McArdle and the offense did seem to sputter out the gate, but seemed to figure things out midway through the year, McArdle and crew were clicking on offense and McArdle was creeping up the all-time lists. Entering the postseason, McArdle had a shot to crack 400 career points; he would need 10 points in order to become the 12th player in professional (outdoor) lacrosse to do so. That was exactly what he did, scoring 3 points against Atlas, 4 against the Whipsnakes, and 4 in the championship game against Chaos.
His strong, and clutch scoring prowess helped the Waterdogs win their first PLL championship. After the game, McArdle spoke a little bit about his career up to this point. “It’s my first [championship] in 9 years, I’ve been f****** working my a** off to get here. I think I’ve put up the numbers year in and year out, guess it’s cool to get some recognition as the underdog guy, but I never felt that way. I take everyday the same and I work my a** off, and it feels good to get to this point.”
With a championship finally under his belt cementing his legacy as one of the sport’s best scorers, McArdle is finally getting the recognition he has deserved since his college days. After being an under the radar player for most of his career, Kieran McArdle has cemented himself as one of the games best players, and it’s great to see him finally get the love that he has deserved his whole career.