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Q&A with Casey Dowd

A native of Madison, CT, Casey Dowd earned All-State and All-Conference lacrosse recognition while at Daniel Hand High School.  Dowd then brought his talents to the Capital District to play for Siena College, where he became one of the most prolific faceoff specialists in the history of Division I Lacrosse.  While at Siena, he earned MAAC Pre-Season All Conference recognition, (2013, 2014, 2015), the 2014 MAAC Face-off Specialist of the Year award, and was a key member of Siena’s 2014 MAAC Championship team.  Upon his graduation from Siena, Dowd ranked in the top 10 in NCAA history for most face-offs taken, won, and ground balls in a career.

Casey recently took the time to talk to Capital District Lax about his experience at Siena, face-offs, and more.LacrosseMonkey has what you need to play. Click Here!

You concluded your collegiate career at Siena as one of the most prolific face off specialists in NCAA history.  What memories and experiences stand out to you the most from your years with the Saints?

CD: Siena College gave me the opportunity to play at the highest level in the world under a great coaching staff that trusted not only their past experiences as players, but the players themselves.  One of the great things about playing under Coach Svec is the fact that the office door to the coaching staff is always open. I probably spent too much time in that office watching film, talking through problems, and messing around with the coaches.  The feeling of family does not end off the lacrosse field.  Both Coach Svec and Coach Rob Cross are some of my biggest influences to this day.  Coach Cross helped me get my foot in the door at Mercyhurst University where he started his collegiate coaching career as well.

One of the most profound memories as a member of the Saints would be playing in the MAAC Championship game and first round of the NCAA tournament against Bryant University.  Both games were memorable in different ways.

The game against Marist was the first championship game I had ever played in and won including youth sports.  Both my younger brothers (Conor and Tristan) had competed in state championships for lacrosse and football and walked away with rings.  It was great to finally get into the “W” column of a championship game!  There was no better feeling than storming the field, tackling your 50 best friends in a massive dog pile, and then cutting down the lacrosse net.  That day will be engraved in my memory for a long time.

Playing against Bryant was another great memory that will never fade.  The week leading up to the game, News camera crews swarmed our fields asking every question under the sun about Siena being massive underdogs in the game, especially at the face-off X and in the goal.  Playing against the #1 ranked face-off specialist of the year was the most humbling experience in my collegiate career.  Although we lost that game, everyone had put every ounce of energy for the entire 60 minutes from the starters to the injured reserve.  Everyone had a specific role that day, whether it be the loudest man on the bench cheering or the starting midfielder.

Does Siena have a strong lacrosse alumni community?

CD: Siena has a very strong lacrosse alumni community in the Capital Region as well as internationally.  There has been a yearly alumni game and golf outing in the fall that is highly attended.  There are also alumni playing abroad such as Jordan Barlow (2017) and Joe Arcarese (2017) in Adelaide, Australia.

One thing that the Siena Men’s Lacrosse team constantly preaches is the presence of family in the locker room and off the field.  We do everything together and care about one another as if they were our brothers whom we talk to daily.  I met my best friends at Siena and talk to my teammates daily.

Tell us a little about what you’ve been doing since graduating from Siena.

CD: Since graduating from Siena, I have heavily been involved in Collegiate coaching.  I started my career at NCAA DII Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa as the offensive coordinator and face-off coach.  We had a great season, winning the ECAC conference championship and qualifying for the NCAA DII tournament.  I then moved on to MCLA DI UCONN where I helped the team throughout the fall on both sides of the ball.  I am currently coaching at Colby College where I am responsible for running the box and working with the face-off specialists.

While coaching, I have tagged along with Mike Poppleton’s All American Face-off Instruction to better spread the skill that allowed me to play at the highest level with young athletes.  It has allowed me to share tips and what I believe helped me become successful in the college game.

Lastly, I was drafted by the Rochester Rattlers in the 2015 Collegiate Supplemental draft, and have been with the team until I was recently traded to the Boston Cannons.  Playing in the MLL has been an amazing experience being able to interact, learn, and play with the best lacrosse players in the world every week.  The sport is continuously growing and being able to be a part of the growth is something I take pride in.

Since you began playing the game, how has face off instruction and coaching evolved?

CD: Face off instruction has evolved immensely since I began playing.  While growing up, I did not have proper instruction on how to become a better face-off man.  The mentality for me was to see what other people were doing that worked and adapt it to better fit my style.  I would come home after games in high school with film from games and study how the other face-off man beat me.  I would aim to take away one thing from each game and adapt my game to become less vulnerable for the following game.  I can remember when face-off guys began going down on one knee and thinking it was bizarre.  After the rule changes for the longer whistles, I was forced to adapt to the rules and became a knee down face-off man as well. Face-offs have been targeted every year for rule changes, so as a face-off man, you must be able to read and react to your surroundings.

Face-off guys come in all shapes and sizes, so there is no right or wrong way to take a face-off.  With programs such as Face-off Academy, All American Face-off, and Face-off Factory, younger players are able to get one-on-one instruction to better their game.

What other sports were you involved in at the youth and high school levels?  Did participation in other sports contribute to your development as a lacrosse player?

CD: I was involved in many sports growing up in youth sports including lacrosse, football, baseball, soccer, and basketball.  As a kid, I think playing as many sports and being a part of a team was one of the most important lessons and attributes I derived from my sports growing up.

In high school, I focused on football and lacrosse.  Our football program was very well known in the state of Connecticut as a powerhouse team with strong and smart football players.  I was a tailback, defensive end, and placekicker my four years in high school.  Our lacrosse program had just graduated a very successful senior class, and we were in the rebuilding stages of a program.

Playing multiple sports in my youth propelled me to understand what being a team member really means.  Accountability and sacrifice were probably the two biggest things I learned and still carry those lessons with me today in my coaching and playing career thus far.

As a face off specialist, what are your thoughts on the idea that some fans/coaches/media members have expressed to remove face offs from the game?

CD: The question whether to remove the face-off from the game of lacrosse has been lingering for many years and still asked every day.  As a face-off specialist, it is one of the most unique, and influential parts of the game.  You are able to score, set up plays, and change the tempo of a lacrosse game based on the face-off.  By removing the face-off, we will be punishing the athletes who have mastered a certain skill.

You played DI lacrosse, and have coaching experience in DII (Mercyhurst), DIII (Colby), as well as the MCLA level (UConn).  In your experience, what are the biggest differences for the student athlete between those levels of lacrosse? 

CD: The biggest difference between the multiple levels of lacrosse is what the student athletes wants out of the experiences.  My desires were to play Division I lacrosse and see where it took me.  My youngest brother Tristan (Rising Sophomore FOGO at Stony Brook) has used lacrosse to attend a great school for a future in the business world and a strong alumni network based right outside of NYC.  I met a great deal of people within the sport through playing both in college, summer pickup leagues, coaching, as well as playing professionally.  The lacrosse community is very close and that becomes more prevalent the longer you stay involved in the sport.  The drive is the same throughout all levels of play no matter what the division, club, or age group.

You mentioned earlier that after beginning this MLL season with Rochester, you are now playing with the Boston Cannons.  As a Connecticut native, what are your thoughts on having the opportunity to play for fans in the New England region?

CD: Rochester will forever be a special place for me. Coach Soudan picked me up and gave me a chance to prove myself. I would be lying if I said after my first practice in Rochester that I was ready to compete in the league. I worked on every facet of the game and came to training camp the past two seasons ready to compete for a roster spot. Although I had been a practice squad player for all but one game, the entire organization treated me like everyone else. The Rattler team, coaching staff, and organization were unbelievable and I am forever grateful for the opportunity they have given me to play in this league.

I am extremely excited to have joined the Boston Cannons and be able to play in front of many of my friends and family from New England! I have been reached by so many fans and players already since being picked up which has been tremendous and welcoming. I am excited to continue working and showing the team how I can contribute.

For info on the Boston Cannons 2017 season finale home game against the Atlanta Blaze on August 5th, visit: BOSTON CANNONS

For info on contacting Casey Dowd for face off instruction, visit his All-American Faceoff page: CASEY DOWD

Gary Govel
Gary has been involved in lacrosse in the Capital District for over 35 years as a player, youth coach, program administrator, parent, and fan. Gary launched in November 2015 to report on lacrosse news and information of interest to the region, and to share his passion for the game. In addition to operating this site and associated social media, Gary is also a contributor to Inside Lacrosse.