He hit the milestone as the Cougars advanced to the regional final.
On a night when the Cardinal Mooney boys lacrosse program repeated its deepest postseason run, one of its players made history of his own.
He did it, as his teammates said, by going “McMahon mode.”
Senior attacker MJ McMahon, a University of Utah signee, recorded his 400th-career point in Mooney’s 15-5 home win against Barron Collier High in the Florida High School Athletic Association regional semifinals. It came on a goal that gave Mooney a 5-2 lead in the first half. He finished with three goals and three assists.
“I didn’t even realize it,” McMahon said. “I knew somewhere in the back of my mind, but once the game started, I wasn’t thinking about it at all.
“It’s an accomplishment, for sure. It goes to the dedication of the game, all the hours I put into it and, especially, my teammates allowing me to get into open spots and finding me. Or me giving them the ball and them finishing. It shows how complete our team is.”
Mooney coach Derek Wagner called McMahon a “once-in-a-lifetime” person and player, praising his humbleness, intelligence and leadership. McMahon is also not above getting comedically jabbed by his teammates, Wagner said. A favorite of the team is getting on McMahon, who has family in Wisconsin, for not wanting to touch the walleye he and his family caught while fishing because they were “too slimy.” Lacrosse is a sport where players promote “tough guy” personas, Wagner said, but McMahon takes the jokes in stride.
Mooney (21-1) will need McMahon to be in top form the rest of the way. The win against Barron Collier sends the Cougars to the regional final for the second-consecutive season — and the second time in program, and Sarasota County, history. Cougars junior JP Jackson added four goals and an assist, junior Michael Bavaro had three goals. Sophomore Christian Laureano and senior Charlie Budreau each had two.
The Cougars will travel to play Jupiter High (17-4), the defending state champion, at 7 p.m. on May 3. Jupiter knocked Mooney out at the regional final level last season, 9-5. MaxPreps has Jupiter ranked second in the state, and Mooney is fourth.
“We have strong senior leadership this year,” Wagner said. “We had it last year, and we had a lot of seniors, but I think the difference is our seniors last year were not there (previously). Our seniors this year were there last year. They felt what that tasted like. That is going to be the difference. We don’t have the depth we had last year, but we have immense amounts of more drive and perseverance. A desire to prove everyone wrong.
“No one gives us a shot in hell against Jupiter. And rightfully so. They are the state champs. We have not beat them. No one gives us a chance and we are perfectly fine with that. We will go and grind and play our game. We will do what we can to put ourselves in the right position in the end.”
McMahon offered a player’s perspective on the task at hand.
“Everyone knows how high-powered our offense is,” McMahon said. “Staying focused on defense, really locking that down — that’s what is going to win us a championship.”