PLL IS BACK

Vibes are high this week as the Premier Lacrosse League returns for its fourth season this weekend! As much as I love college lacrosse (Shoutout my Terps), the PLL is more of my play style. Need my two bombs and short shot clocks. Figured I would do a brief preview on every team and highlight the big moves they made this offseason. Every team this year has a shot at winning the title this year (Just like every year) so you can’t go wrong with any of these squads if you are picking a team to follow for the first time. A lot of exciting stuff coming this season, including Fantasy lacrosse in the PLL app, so hoping I can stick with this writing stuff through the year.

Pulled from Axios.com

Archers

The Archers ended last year on a sour note after losing to the Chaos in round one of the playoffs last year, but that does not mean that they are not still a top team. The talent is still there, the question is just how to use everyone as effectively as possible. Their Attack is about as stacked but crowded as it can be. Obviously, Grant Ament and Marcus Holman are the two top dogs. I expect them to be consistent starters in this lineup so the real issue is who plays out of the box and who stays in that 3rd spot. My guess is that Will Manny will keep his spot, but rookie Matt Moore out of Virginia could steal that spot either by week 1 or sometime in the season. Moore reminds me of Mac O’Keefe, who came in and provided the Chaos with a consistent open space shooter, which is what Ament and Holman need. It is a good problem to have for sure.

Their Midfield line is awesome. I don’t love their offensive middies, other than Tom Schreiber, but their defensive midfielders are top tier. Having two elite LSMs with Jared Conners and Scott Ratliff is honestly a little unfair. Other than the Whips, both of these guys could probably start at LSM for any team in the league. In the Archers scrimmage against the Whips on the 31st, he had Two 2 pointers. He is lethal from deep and great at getting the ball and pushing the transition. Ratliff on the other hand was a finalist for the LSM player of the year in 2019 and is still performing at a high level. Each guy gives such a different look as Conners can run on the faceoffs and Ratliff can be lockdown in settled sets. Having this depth is going to be big going into the final stretch of the year. To close off the midfield conversation, they have 3 dogs at SSDM, including Latrell Harris and Dominique Alexander who may be the funniest guys in the league. The video of Harris getting his first goal makes me smile everytime. These guys make the PLL vlog a must watch.

The defense is probably this teams biggest weakness, despite having the reigning defensive player of the year, Graham Hossack. The main thing I am excited to see is if they will finally give the keys to Adam Ghitelman after the retirement of Drew Adams. They would constantly switch these two through the year and I feel like it hurt them come playoffs when they had to choose between the two. With Ghitelman as their main starter, he can finally cement himself as a top goalie in the league. The Archers will struggle at the stripe as they just lost Stephen Kelly this offseason. The faceoff will be the one position that I think will switch week by week, but their offense should be able to score enough to keep them in any game.

The Archers odds to win the Championship is +500 which I think may be the best value you see of any team (Probably will say this for every team but there is so much juice) and if their defense can keep up with the offense, they will dominate teams all year.

Atlas

The Bulls to me look like a dynasty in the making. This team was dominant last year up until their meeting with the reigning champs, the Chaos, but they look even better this year due to all of the moves that Ben Rubeor made when he took over. The Atlas had two first round picks this year and managed to get one of if not the top prospects going into the draft with Chris Gray out of North Carolina. Gray joins an attack that was already buzzing last year, with Jeff Teat, Eric Law, and Jake Carraway. It will be tough to see who is put in that third spot with Gray and Teat, but regardless they have options. The fact that the Atlas actually managed to get the top two attackman in the last two drafts is insane to me. As a Redwoods fan I can only hope that Gray has some problems adjusting to the new speed and turns the ball over 5+ times in week one.

The midfield is really exciting. Bryan Costabile might be my favorite non-Redwood. He is one of those young guys that is just so explosive and fun to watch. Costabile had a great season last year, but also had a lot of moments where you could tell he is still young. He is one of those guys who I think every year will get better as he sees more situations. The other 1st round pick for the Atlas this year was Koby Smith out of Towson. He is the top rated 2 way LSM going into this draft and could not fit better on any other team. Costabile and Smith on the transition may be tougher to stop than a runaway train. The Atlas all around have some great weapons surrounding Costabile, but the top one I am excited to watch play is Romar Dennis. They are a young and hungry midfield unit and although the Attack may overshine them, this is a sneaky best unit in the league.

So. A great attack, a sneaky good midfield unit, any normal man would assume that means they lack in the defense and specialist positions. Wrong. Their defense may not be the top one in the league, they do have some really good players. The one that comes to mind since his name is fun to say is Cade Van Raaphorst. He was a finalist for the Defensive player of the year and I would say was a toss up pick with Hossack. They have two top goalies with Colarusso and Concannon which is not a bad problem to have, but I do think they will pick one of these guys as their top option. And lastly, the best personality in all of Lacrosse, Trevor Baptiste, is still at the stripe for them. Baptiste won the award for top faceoff guy last year (Robbed TD, can’t change my mind) and is still in the middle of his prime.

The Atlas really are the most exciting team in lacrosse right now. If anyone were to ask me which team was the one to jump in on right now, I would say the Atlas. This team is building something that will last, and I would not be surprised if they make a deep run this year. They are listed as +450 to win it all this year, and I may bet it just to have a reason to cheer for these guys.

Cannons

I do not really understand the Cannons this year. This team could either dominate the league or come in dead last. I do love their roster this year since they have been investing in some young guys at each position, but I am not sure it will win them too many games this year. There is one reason though I am not counting them out this year and that is Lyle Thompson. In a video with The Lacrosse Network, Thompson spoke about how last year was his toughest season ever. He managed to be a finalist for attackman of the year despite injury and has said he is working harder than ever before in preparation for this year. The Cannons have 11 total Attackmen going into training camp, so it will be interesting to see who comes out of the box and who joins Thompson. I can imagine they will move people around a lot since they only have 4 midfielders on the roster, but it may take some time for them to figure out the recipe.

The midfield unit for this team is interesting. The two guys I know will play on the first line this year is Stephen Rehfuss and Jake Froccaro, who they acquired this offseason from the Chaos. Besides that it will be interesting to see who plays with them and on that second line. One player I personally am excited to see play is Bubba Fairman, who was drafted out of Maryland. Fairman was on a loaded midfield line at UMD and elected to switch to SSDM so he can contribute. He is extremely talented on both ends of the field and I think will play a 2 way role for them. The Cannons traded up to get Fairman which turned out to be a controversial move so all eyes will be on him when he first gets on the field.

The Cannons Defense and specialist positions are where I believe they lack the most. As much as I respect Brodie Merrill, he is too old to be a starter in this league, yet he is also their top or number 2 guy on the defensive side. Bringing in Stephen Kelly was a nice move considering they were the worst faceoff team last year (Don’t even need to check the stats on that one), but he is still not a top FO man in this league. I think he comes in with a chip on his shoulder after leaving the Archers, but it will be interesting to see how it plays out. The Goalies the archers brought in this year though are interesting. Nick Marrocco is the clear number one starter for the Cannons this year, but they have a rookie who could take that spot. They drafted Colin Kirst from Rutgers, who was one of the top goalies in the NCAA this year.I was excited to hear Kirst made the final roster this year because you would hate to see a guy come off a great year and have to watch from the player pool.

Like I said at the top, the Cannons are not a team I would put much trust into this year. I think they are a team that has a plan and could build into a competitor, but there is a reason they are listed as +1000 to win the whole thing. They have an interested roster and a lot of young guys who could lift this team up, but I would say this teams ceiling is a 4–5 seed in the tournament.

Chaos

The Reigning, defending champs of the PLL come into the year with some player availability issues. Their attack is known for having a very box like style of play which played a part in helping them win the title last year, but now they have multiple guys on the Unable to Travel list with commitments to the NLL. This means they will be without Chris Cloutier, Josh Byrne, Chase Frazier, and a few others. They may not be the only team that is affected, but they definitely took the biggest hit due to this overlap in league schedules. Despite all of the losses, they are still bringing 7 attackmen with them to Albany this weekend.

This may be the shortest part of the blog because the Chaos only brought Three offensive midfielders, one being Mac O’Keefe who mainly plays an attack role for them. They do have Jonathan Donville listed as attack but he played midfield at Maryland less than a week ago so should have enough depth. The decision to bring in 7 defensive midfielders (Three LSMs and four SSDMs) definitely shows they want to strengthen that part of the field while they have some of their big offensive players out.

The Chaos defense has been a unit I have doubted every year, but they managed to shut me up last year during that title run. Obviously Jared Neumann and Jack Rowlett deserve some credit, but the real hero on this group is the reigning MVP Blaze Riorden. I mean, without Blaze this team would not have made it past the first round. He had 21 saves against the Archers and then 19 against the Whips in the finals. Blaze is not only an amazing goalie but just a good guy. Hard to cheer against him as much as I may try. As long as the Chaos have him on their team, they will be capable of making a huge run in the playoffs.

I think the Chaos will be just as dangerous this year once they get to full strength, but I expect them to play a scrappy low scoring game against the Whipsnakes. The Chaos are +450 to repeat as champions, and I think this is the perfect number for them. If you do take this bet, just do not expect a quick start this season.

Chrome

This is probably the team I am the most biased against for no reason other than they had a few Duke players. Now that we have played 3 total seasons, the Chrome have become the Jets of the PLL; They start every year looking good in one of the first three games but ultimately end the year in disappointment. I will say though, their roster looks good this year. The Chrome added Dylan Molloy last year, who was a standout in the MLL and a tewaaraton winner in 2016. They also used their 2022 first overall pick to get a future tewaaraton winner Logan Wisnauskas from Maryland, who joins a fellow terp on that attack line with Colin Heacock.

The Chromes midfield line to me has always been considered mediocre (or mid as the kids would say). John Ranagan for some reason pisses me off and they really do not have any guys who jump off the page for me. Ryan Terefenko I would say is the one guy I would say I enjoy to watch, but as a D midfielder he does not contribute enough to take over a game. I would say the Chrome are not putting much value in the LSM as they only have one guy, but I am sure they will pull someone from their list of close defenders to help out.

This defensive group is going to be trying to bounce back after the retirement of two leaders, Joel White and John Galloway. Seeing who replaces Galloway will be the biggest story for this team. The Chrome drafted Owen McElroy out of Georgetown in the fourth round so that would be my guest as to who takes the role. If they do put him out there, I would recommend hammering the Archers despite the injury to Ament. To end it off, I have to talk about the Milkman, Connor Ferrell. One of my favorite people in the league, partially because he also has an appreciation for a nice glass of 2% milk. He has definitely improved year after year but this is the year he needs to make a push into the top 3 FO conversation with Nardella, TD and Baptiste.

The Chrome are tied with the Cannons as the two teams with the worst odds at +1000. I do not expect them to be winning the title and would probably cap them at a 6 seed at best. I am excited to see if they return to their old form, or if they can pull off some big wins. I will definitely look to sprinkle on some of their games once I know this whole goalie situation.

Redwoods

Well this is the one I have been waiting for. Probably could have just written one large blog about the Redwoods instead of doing every team, but we are in too deep to look back now. I will try to be as neutral as possible when writing this up, but with that being said, the Redwoods I think have a team this year that is capable of rolling all the way to a title. Starting with their attack, they return the main guys Rob Pannell (RP3), Matt Kavanaugh, and my personal favorite, Ryder Garnsey. This is what I expect to be their main starting three but they also have a lot of rookies on the bench who I am sure they will plug in. These three guys all play a different style of game and have great chemistry so I am excited to see these guys step back out there this year.

The midfield is so much better than I could have ever dreamed of, especially after losing the GOAT Kyle Harrison to retirement. Cannot and Will not start this section without mentioning my favorite players, Myles Jones and Sergio Perkovic. Two of the coolest guys in the league and so much fun to watch. Along with them should be Jules Henningburg, another OG guy and personal favorite. I could see them running all three of these guys on one line or splitting them up to throw in one of the rookies they have. The two rookies that made their 25 man roster is my MAN Anthony ‘Tony/Tone Man’ DeMaio and Nakeie Montgomery. I yelled so loud when the redwoods stole Montgomery in the 3rd round of the draft that my neighbors knocked on the wall to get me to shut up. No regrets though because he was a projected first round guy who slipped to us in the third. Montgomery is no only an All-American midfielder, he also played Running back for Dukes football team. Anyone who knows me knows I hate Duke and Clemson, but the second one of my teams draft or pick them up they are immediately forgiven. To be honest, I had no clue DeMaio was picked up by the Woods until I saw he made the 25 man roster. I could not be happier about him joining my team because he was my favorite player on the Terps national championship team. He brought my team 2 Natty ships and for that I will always love him. I can already see Myles Jones dishing the rock to him on a give and go and Tony ripping it top left shelf. Could not be happier about this offense.

The Redwoods defense only got better this offseason with the addition of another Notre Dame player, Arden Cohen. Having 4 guys who can be trusted to play close D is important in this league, and I love that we now have a trade piece in Finn Sullivan. Also love that Timmy Troutner is back with the legend Jack Kelly backing him up. Plus we have the return of the top faceoff man in 2021 (Cannot convince me otherwise) TD Ierlan. TD was electric in his first year in 2021 so I expect him to only improve. Just have to hope and pray that he stays healthy.

The Redwoods at +550 is going to be hammered the second that I have the ability to do it. They look dangerous this year and I don’t think even the Whipsnakes can stop them this year. Counting down the days until I can watch them in person in Charlotte (9 days NBD). They really do not have many weaknesses on this team so all it is about is putting it all together.

Waterdogs

Is it just me or were the Waterdogs the most least talked about regular season champ of all time? The Owners may not be proud of where they finished last year in the playoffs, but they had a great year. The Dogs get Michael Sowers back in the lineup despite him being out during the run that the Waterdogs went on, but he is so much fun to watch that they do not care what chemistry they may be losing by adding him back into the lineup. I think this unit has a conversation for being a top 3 unit in the league, but it all depends on who they add as their third guy to compliment Sowers and Ryan Brown.

The midfield unit on this team is so damn good. They have the best 2 way player in the league with Zach Currier, who finished in the MVP race in 2021. Currier is so good at grabbing the ground balls during the faceoff and immediately running the transition. Alongside him is another all time terp Connor Kelly and the mullet king, Mikie Schlosser. Unfortunately Drew Snider retired over the offseason so they have added a couple young guys who have a chance to make a big impact for this team from the second line.

As I am writing this and going through the Dogs lineup, I am realizing that every position group could be considered a debatable top 3 or definite top 5. Their defensive guys are all solid with Eli Gobrecht, Liam Byrnes and Chris Sabia. Dillon Ward returns this year as their starting goalie, but not until after he finishes up his season with the NLL.

The odds on the Dogs are not great with it being listed as +600, but again, people are forgetting these guys had the best record last year. After a weak first year in the bubble, the Waterdogs did not have huge expectations in 2021 so 1st place was obviously a dream year. Now they have to turn their focus to putting together a team that can finish the job in the playoffs as the bar has been set at “Win the damn thing”.

Whipsnakes

The last and final team is the one I have the most Love/Hate relationship with. The Whipsnakes are the team that I should be a fan of had I not chosen before they even announced rosters (No Ragerts). They also have beaten the Redwoods in the playoffs every. Single. Year. We all know the story, but if you do not, the Whips beat the Woods in the championship in 2019 (Overtime), the semifinals in 2020 (Overtime), and in the quarter finals in 2021 (Go ahead goal with under a minute). The one man who is responsible for most of these wins is Matt Rambo AKA the thickest dude in lacrosse. Rambo is a personal favorite that I have to hate due to his beef with the Redwoods and I struggle with it everyday. The other stud on the attack that I love to talk about is Jay Carlson. The ultimate crease player. Juicy Jay can score behind the back, no look, over the back, side arm and under the legs (did this in both the Semis and the Finals of the playoffs last year). I tried to start the Juicy Jay for MVP train last year but it did not gain much traction. This attack unit will be a top one as long as the Whips have these two guys.

The Midfielders for the whipsnakes is probably the Achilles heel of the team. A team like this has to make some decisions in order to keep em together, and the defense and attack is what the Whips value. Don’t get me wrong, they have some great players at midfield. Mike Chanenchuk was the 2 point king in 2019 and is still playing good lacrosse. Brad Smith, although listed as an attackman, usually comes out of the box. Smith was inconsistent last year for them and did not bring enough to the table which is why they traded Nick Grill to the Chrome for Justin Guterding. I think Gutty had troubles meshing with this new team where he is asked to have a smaller role for them, but to have him as a 4th or 5th scoring option is incredibly deadly. I think there will be a lot of names plugged and placed through the season in this position, but if they find a group that becomes consistent, they could easily coast.

The Terps… I mean Whipsnakes have a similar mentality to the redwoods. Where the Redwoods grab Notre Dame players, the Whips grab Maryland players. Their entire defense, including their starting goalie and backup goalie, went to Maryland. An important aspect of this game is chemistry. That is the same reason why every Redwood close defender is a notre dame player. These guys have played together for so long that they know each other’s playing styles like the back of their hand. Keeping these guys together is a critical reason as to why the Whips have been to 3 straight championships. The other big reason they are so good is Joe Nardella’s play. He has been maybe the best guy at the stripe since the league started, and that says a lot considering Baptiste is in the league.

The Whipsnakes are not the betting favorites before the season for the first time since, well never. Now they are still +500 which is only 50 more than the lowest odds, so if you do like free money I would say this is probably the best bet possible. I would not be mad if the Redwoods get to avoid them in the playoffs, but I also wouldn’t mind a chance for some revenge. Break the curse like Charles Leclerc did in Monaco.

Look if you made it this far you are a real one, even if you did not read all of this. If you did then I appreciate you, but you also should really find something cooler to be doing with your life. I figured getting a good preview of each team was a nice way for me to remind myself of whos on what team while also giving people a place to learn about the teams. I am going to try getting something out for betting this weekend plus a list of my favorite plays in fantasy for this week specifically or just the year in general. Those reading I am sure know I am not a writer and just love getting a chance to get my random PLL thoughts out of my head and onto paper, but I hope I can try to give a quick weekly power ranking each week and/or a fantasy preview going into each week. Hope everyone tunes in this year!

GO REDWOODS!

Andrew

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