He was a four-time All-American lacrosse star at Johns Hopkins from 1987-1990. He cherishes memories of sitting courtside at a Maryland men’s basketball game or visiting the Inner Harbor, a popular tourist destination filled with shopping, restaurants and entertainment.
Time has passed — he’s called 17 NCAA title games — but the excitement about returning is palpable.
“Baltimore offers the fan the ability to walk from their hotels to restaurants, bars and the venue for the games and tailgating,” said Kessenich, who also serves as a college football analyst. “The entire Inner Harbor area becomes a lacrosse festival.”
“As a diehard [Baltimore] Ravens fan, its exciting for me to call the game from M&T Bank Stadium. With so many friends in town for the games, my biggest challenge is to stay focused on the task at hand.”
As a former Johns Hopkins goaltender, Kessenich routinely read the progression of a specific play, much like Ravens safety Ed Reed.
“I love the transition element of [lacrosse], where a team runs from defense to offense, tying together multiple passes for a slam dunk,” he said.
Kessenich says decades of youth leagues and successful high school programs helped define the Baltimore-Long Island-Upper NY State areas as a true hotbed for lacrosse.
The growth of lacrosse is evident in the University of Denver, which will play Virginia in one semifinal Saturday. Denver boasts a national scope with 20 states and Canada represented on the roster.
Another sign lacrosse interest is building, he said “Championship weekend has exploded in scope, from attendance to media coverage. Our productions have followed that identical trend. Games are now in HD with Skycam.”
How would Kessenich fare if he tried to play now?
“It’s been more than 10 years since I played defense for the Baltimore Thunder,” Kessenich said. “Lacrosse is a young man’s game and I’ve given up my share of goals, so a Major League Lacrosse comeback isn’t in the cards.”
Kessenich will provide insight for the faceoffs Saturday with the National Semifinal games on ESPN2: No. 7 Virginia takes on No. 6 Denver at 4 p.m. ET, and at 6:30 p.m. No. 5 Duke meets Maryland.
ESPN will offer the National Championship game Monday, May 30 at 3:30 p.m.