Even though the New York Riptide have yet to play a home game at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum, Kieran McArdle isn’t a stranger to the Old Barn.
The former Ronkonkoma resident, and Connetquot and St. John’s University graduate played at the Coliseum when the New York Saints indoor lacrosse franchise was there from 1989 to 2003. (The NY Titans bounced around various area sites from 2007-09.)
“I used to play at the Saints games at halftime,” McArdle recalled recently. “My South Shore [youth lacrosse] travel team would go out there. All the fans were still there, and we were little kids. It was a surreal moment. We were on the same floor as the pros. Now, fast forward 15-to-20 years, and now I’m out there which is pretty cool.”
The Riptide (0-2) are an expansion team in the indoor National Lacrosse League, and are currently in last place in the NLL’s East Division. New York travels to New England at 7:30 p.m. Friday, before hosting their first home game in franchise history at 7:30 p.m. Saturday against Saskatchewan.
“It hasn’t been the best start but we’re a new organization and I can’t wait for Saturday,” Riptide forward Connor Kelly said. “We have the ability to write our own story right now.”
Kelly has written a good story for himself so far this season. The former University of Maryland product is tied with teammate Dan Lomas for the team lead in goals (3), assists (4) and points (7).
“Our offense is not very flashy,” Kelly said. “We don’t have a go-to guy. We are more of an offense by committee. We’ve had some growing pains as a new team, but we continue to build.”
One area the Riptide has improved is faceoffs. After winning just 2 of 19 faceoffs in their 12-4 season-opening loss to Hailfax on Dec. 7, New York’s Alex Woodall captured 17 of 29 faceoffs in a 14-10 loss at Vancouver on Dec. 14.
“We had eight or nine guys playing their first NLL game [on Dec. 7], so there certainly were some nerves,” Riptide head coach and general manager Regy Thorpe said. “We really settled down in our second game. . . . We did a great job in the faceoff circle and made better decisions overall. We just need to bury more shots, but there’s certainly lots to build on.”
Kelly grew up in Easton, Conn., and expects about a dozen family and friends at the Coliseum on Saturday. McArdle, who helps run the Long Island Rush youth lacrosse program, has been inundated with ticket requests.
“It’s very special for me growing up on Long Island -- where I played as a kid -- and is where I’ll be playing Saturday,” said McArdle, who expects between 50-to-75 fans in attendance amongst his family, friends and youth program members. “This weekend will be awesome.”