Will McKee has played at Kezar Stadium more times than he can remember.
Playing football, lacrosse and soccer in four years at St. Ignatius Prep, big games were always at Kezar, but he didn’t wear the familiar red, white and blue uniform in his final appearance at the iconic stadium.
This time, he informally launched his college lacrosse career as a freshman midfielder for Lehigh University, which played Ohio State in the San Francisco Lacrosse Fall Classic on Sunday at Kezar.
The exhibition game was one of two contests NCAA programs are allowed to play in a small window of fall practice time. It is the fourth year Kezar has hosted the event, always featuring top-tier college programs.
Mckee, an Oakland native, relished the homecoming and played host on the tourist bus rides and trip to Alcatraz the team took.
“It feels so good to come back, especially on a weekend like this,” McKee said. “I miss the Bay Area so much. I even listened in on the [Bruce-Mahoney football game] on the radio, because the atmosphere [at Kezar], no matter what is going on, is just an awesome vibe.”
The Mountain Hawks, who finished the 2012 season with a 14-3 record and were ranked ninth nationally, even practiced at St. Ignatius on Saturday.
“It was so surreal to go back to SI,” McKee said. “Coming back to that field — I just have so many memories on that field. It was weird having a different jersey on.”
An elite faceoff specialist that was a first team All-West Catholic Athletic League selection in lacrosse and a second-team All-City selection in football as a cornerback, had a far-from-storybook performance on the field on Sunday, but still stayed nearly 30 minutes after the game chatting with friends, former teammates and local youth players after the game.
He didn’t score a goal, make a huge run or tally an assist. In fact, he got most of his playing time in the reserve-dominated “fifth” period (both teams agreed to play five 15-minute “quarters” in the exhibition, rather than the standard four).
Lehigh eventually won 15-13 over the Buckeyes, and although he had moments of tentativeness, McKee seemed to be comfortable on the field.
“We brought him in because he’s a tremendous athlete and a tremendous young man,” Lehigh coach Kevin Cassese said.