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March 31, 2014

Senior midfielder Maddy Keeshan grew up in a household that was brimming with sports. The youngest of three athletically inclined children, there was usually someone to play with. Usually.

“You were never really bored in our house,” Keeshan recalled. “It was nice to have older siblings who were also interested in sports there to play around with. My sister, Brady, is three years older than me and my brother, Harry, is a year older. I was always the one pushing them, especially when they got older, to play with me whereas they were not always eager, because I was the youngest.”

Keeshan played many sports as a child, beginning with soccer and hockey.

“I started skating when I was pretty young and started playing hockey on Saturday evenings when I was in the second grade,” Keeshan said. “Where I grew up in Connecticut, we have an outdoor rink, which was really fun. Hockey was a really fun sport to play growing up. My dad [John Keeshan] was a hockey player and he coached my sister and I. He was always telling us to throw hip checks. He added this more aggressive side, which was fun.”

It was Keeshan’s mother, Jackie, who proved to be an even larger athletic influence. The former Jackie Coyle was one of the founding members of the lacrosse program at Tufts, serving as a two-time captain of the fledgling program. Jackie’s lifelong love of lacrosse was imprinted on her youngest daughter.

“She always talked about playing on that first lacrosse team at Tufts,” Keeshan said. “My parents have always been great, letting me play three sports up through my senior year of high school. They really encouraged me to get out there and do whatever I wanted, whether it was soccer, hockey, or lacrosse, but after seeing how much she loved the game and how much my dad was even drawn to it, it helped me in the end choose lacrosse as my one sport when I needed to narrow it down. In high school, I would do lacrosse camps as opposed to soccer or hockey, which also pushed me that way. I really liked the competitiveness of lacrosse and the fact it is so high paced.”

Her sister, Brady, followed closer in her father’s footsteps, going on to play field hockey at NCAA Division III Trinity College. Brother Harry played Division III squash at Hamilton.

Keeshan played midfield her first year at UVa, scoring seven goals with seven assists. She was named the Rookie of the Week on Feb. 28, 2011 after scoring a hat trick in a 21-11 upset win at Syracuse. In her second and third years, Keeshan switched to defense. Her stat line may have been quieter, but her presence on the field was still as loud. Last year, Keeshan led the team with 18 caused turnovers, helping her earn a spot on the VaSID All-State Second Team.

In her final season with the Cavaliers this year, Keeshan is back in the midfield, scoring twice as many goals as she did in her rookie campaign in the first nine games of the season.

“I like scoring, but it kind of took me a while to get back into that gear just because I was so defensive minded after being a defender for the last two years,” Kessahn said. “I like being on the celebratory side of it. Defense is exciting obviously through turnovers and saves, but it’s a different feel.”

Keeshan’s game on both sides of the field has evolved over her four-year career.

“The biggest change is that my confidence has definitely gone up from freshman year to senior year,” Keeshan said. “My defense has definitely been helped thanks to [assistant coach Jessy Morgan]. She really helped push me towards being a stronger defender, whereas coming in that wasn’t the strongest part of my game. Now, I’m a midfielder again and I think the difference from freshman year is definitely the confidence. The players around me are also really strong, and that helps boost team confidence as well.”

The history major will be graduating this May and is looking forward to pursuing a career in sports marketing, hopefully working with a professional team, though she also feels it would be a dream job to be doing something with the Olympics.

“Last year I worked for Major League Baseball Network as an intern,” Keeshan said. “Two years ago I worked for NBC Sports. Those two different companies gave me a feel for the industry, and I enjoyed it a lot, but I’m more drawn to doing something that focuses on one sport. I would also love to find something in New York, which is close to home and close to both of my siblings.”

As her final season at Klöckner Stadium is coming to a close, she wanted to be able to thank some of the people who have made these four years so memorable for her.

“I want to say thank you to the coaches for always being there and always putting their confidence in me,” Keeshan said. “I also need to thank my teammates for making it an incredible experience, something that I didn’t expect coming in and something I’ll cherish forever. Of course, I want to thank my parents for coming to pretty much every game no matter whether it was a Wednesday, Saturday, or Sunday. And really, I’d like to thank everyone that supports us, because it makes us the team we are today.”

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