BY MICHAEL KELLY
Boston Cannons general manager Kevin Barney went into this past May’s Major League Lacrosse draft knowing Luke Goldstock, a Niskayuna product who graduated this year from the University of North Carolina, was bound to end up on one of the league’s teams.
After all, Goldstock had produced a fantastic four-year career with the Tar Heels, projected well for the next level — and had a huge fan in Barney, who graduated 20 years before Goldstock from Niskayuna High School.
So, in the unlikely event every other MLL franchise passed on the former Silver Warriors star, Barney was ready to scoop up Goldstock.
“There was just no way he was going to go all 10 rounds of the draft without me taking him,” Barney said Wednesday.
The Cannons — who drafted Niskayuna product Jeff Bryan back in 2004 — ended up selecting Goldstock with the 41st overall pick in this year’s draft, right in the middle of the fifth round. After waiting for an active roster spot to open up, Goldstock will make his debut with the Cannons Thursday against the New York Lizards in Hempstead.
“I’m going to let the game come to me and play a supporting role,” said Goldstock, who will serve as a midfielder for the Cannons after mostly playing as an attackman in college. “I want to play within myself and help in any way I can.”
Goldstock was a three-year starter at North Carolina. He set the program’s single-season goals record with 50 as a sophomore, and finished his career with 120 goals and 55 assists. As a senior, he was an All-ACC selection for the first time, and helped lead the Tar Heels to a conference tournament championship.
Goldstock’s North Carolina team fell 15-12 to UAlbany in the first round of this year’s NCAA tournament at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium, the closest venue to his Niskayuna home Goldstock played at during his time with the Tar Heels. The year prior, Goldstock had scored four goals in North Carolina’s national championship game victory.
Barney had contacted Goldstock in advance of the draft to gauge his interest in playing in the MLL. The two had not previously met, but Barney had closely followed Goldstock’s career at North Carolina and saw him as a fit for the Cannons.
“We connected right away,” Goldstock said. “We’re actually already pretty close for not knowing each other too long.”
Goldstock graduated from Niskayuna High School in 2013, while Barney graduated from the school in 1993. Barney ran cross country and track at Niskayuna, which started its lacrosse program during his senior year.
Barney never played lacrosse and his first real exposure to the game was as a freshman at Springfield College. After graduating from Springfield with a degree in sports management, Barney worked for several organizations — including the New England Patriots — in ticket sales and marketing roles before landing with the Cannons in 2009.
In 2011, Barney became the Cannons’ general manager — a job that sees him involved in more aspects than just putting together the franchise’s playing roster.
“I’m involved in everything from player personnel to travel to equipment to hotels — you name it,” said the 42-year-old Barney, who lives with his wife and two kids in Boston. “It’s a little bit of everything.”
Barney helps head a small front-office staff of about a dozen people. When he started with the Cannons, Barney said the staff consisted of five people.
The MLL, which played its first season in 2001, is still developing itself as a league. It has nine teams and nearly all of its players have some other form of income to supplement their playing salaries.
“But it’s been so exciting to be a part of the growth of the sport,” Barney said.
That rings true, too, for Goldstock. Since graduating from North Carolina and spending a vacation in Europe, the 22-year-old has been living back in Niskayuna and coaching lacrosse at the club level. After playing this summer in the MLL, Goldstock said he will enroll at the University of Manchester in England for graduate school. He said he plans to play again in the MLL next summer, too.
Goldstock was in attendance for the MLL draft earlier this year and said it was a bit nerve-wracking to wait several rounds to hear his name called.
“But he was 100 percent on my board,” said Barney, whose team did not own picks in the draft’s second or fourth rounds.
When the Cannons’ turn came in the fifth round and Goldstock was still available, Barney said it was a quick discussion before the team took him. Minutes later, the two Niskayuna natives were posing together for a photo.
“That,” Barney said, “was probably cooler for me than it was for him.”