Keshawn Downing, right, is a 2017 graduate of Mount Vernon High School. (Averett University image)
Keshawn Downing, a 2017 graduate of Mount Vernon High School, put his name in the Averett University men’s lacrosse history book Wednesday, scoring the first goal in the program’s existence.
Downing’s goal was a bright spot on an otherwise tough day for the Cougars, who were playing their inaugural game. Downing’s goal came at the 11:16 mark of the 4th quarter of a 23-1 loss at Shenandoah University.
The loss and the score aren’t particularly surprising when you learn more about Averett. Not only is it the first year of the program, but 14 of the 15 players on the roster are true freshman, including Downing. Making things more challenging: Seven of the team’s 11 games will be on the road.
Downing said he embraces the challenges, but acknowledges it’s not always easy.
“It’s pretty cool but at the same time some things are all on my shoulders, so I gotta stay healthy and try to make some good plays,” said Downing.
Downing was a three-sport standout at Mount Vernon, playing football and basketball in addition to lacrosse. He credits his experiences playing for the Majors, who were often underdogs on the lacrosse field, for preparing him for this season. One of the top moments of Downing’s high school playing days was scoring the game-winning goal in an upset over rival West Potomac last year.
“Mount Vernon has always been the underdog and nothing went our way with the referees,” Downing said. “I experienced some of that in the first half [against Shenandoah] but I played through it.”
Averett’s coach complimented Downing’s play so far, and said he has already emerged as a leader on the young team.
“When we were recruiting Keshawn, we knew he had the lacrosse skills and individual qualities we were looking for, and he has exceeded those expectations,” Averett coach Anthony Mackin said. “He’s a player who makes those around him better and his first focus has been his teammates. We are very excited about his future at Averrett.”