PLL Season
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2022 PLL Season Preview: Strengths and Weaknesses

What a PLL season we are awaiting. The PLL is now on ESPN, there’s a fresh new draft class of fresh talent, player movement has happened, and we’re all set for faceoff on Saturday. But before the first whistle, let’s get caught up on each team and what they’ve done since last September, and what we can expect from them this season.

Chrome


Last Year

Starting off with the one team that missed out on the playoffs last PLL season, with yet another disappointing season the Knights are still building, or rebuilding however you would call it. The season started off with a bad omen in their offensive quarterback in Jordan Wolf going down with a lower body injury that would end what would be his final season very abruptly. With the entry of Dylan Molloy into the league the Chrome were looking to make a late season run, however their offense was never able to mesh together and the defense had the second worst SAA in the league. 

Off-Season Moves

With the first overall selection Tim Soudan passed on the NCAA all-time points leader in Chris Gray, and selected the Tewaaraton winner in Maryland’s Groot, or as some call him Logan Wisnauskas. In the second round they selected Brendan Nichtern out of Army. Between Nichtern and Wisnauskas, along with Cole Williams taken out of the player pool, Soudan seems to be taking the approach of bringing in strong fundamental offensive weapons.

Strengths
  • Defensive Midfield: Terefenko, Aslainian, Haus, and Messenger are all hard hitters on the D-end.
Weaknesses
  • Faceoffs: While Farrell was a menace in the bubble, he struggled in 2021 going sub 50% at the stripe, time will tell if he can have a bounce back season.
Question Marks
  • Offensive Production: While it is no doubt the Chrome like every other PLL team has a load of talent at the offensive end, with lots of new faces and some players only getting partial seasons together it will be interesting to see how quickly this group can get on the right page with one another.
  • Goaltending: With the retirement of John Galloway the torch has been passed to Sean Sconone. While the big man has had success in the MLL, he is still unproven in the PLL. He might however have a bit of a warm up game Week 1 with Grant Ament and Connor Fields out for the Archers.

Cannons


Last Year

While the Nooners were able to win in their final week matchup with Chrome to make the playoffs, they were not able to take down Atlas’ family style offense in the first round of the playoffs. As a PLL expansion team the season definitely wasn’t a success but it by far wasn’t a failure. The Nooners took down the Archers in Minnesota and took the defending champs to overtime in Atlanta. 

Off-Season Moves

With the retirement of Paul Rabil, the Cannons roster looked pretty similar to Chrome in terms of talent, however they have an X factor, the best player in the league, Lyle Thompson. During the offseason, Sean Quirk mostly focused on trying to get as many weapons around Thompson as possible. The dream is for Thompson to get an assist off of every dodge. But the question is, will these new faces be able to bury the rock against the extremely talented goaltending in the PLL?

Strengths
  • LYLE THOMPSON… that’s it, that’s the strength.
  • Goaltending: Nick Morocco was 2nd in the league in saves last year.
Weaknesses
  • Faceoff: Bones Kelly and Kevin Reisman have not been consistent in the PLL. Alex Woodall was a beast at Towson and with the Blaze, but he has still yet to prove himself in the PLL. If coach Quirk is keeping three faceoff men, it doesn’t exactly speak to one of them being dominant against the competition.
Question Marks
  • Thompson’s Supporting Cast: Will they be able to find twine?
  • Draft Day Trade: With Fairman being on the PUP list and Kirst looking like a backup for the time being, trading away yet another first round pick may come back to haunt Coach Quirk.

Redwoods


Last Year

It was once again déjà vu for Nat St. Laurent’s Redwoods as they lost for the third season in a row to the Whipsnakes by one goal in the playoffs, and for the second time the game winner was scored by Matt Rambo. Safe to say the Woods are ready for another piece of the big lefty. The Woods have been one of the most consistent teams in the PLL alongside their archrivals Whipsnakes, it is almost safe to say they will have another good season. The only question is, can they finally exercise their demons and take down the Whips when it counts?

Off-Season Moves

Nat St. Laurent used his third overall selection to secure his new 1-on-1 cover man in Arden Cohen. In arguably the steal of the draft, the Woods were able to pick up Nakeie Montgomery in the third round. Finally, out of the player pool they grabbed Montgomery’s partner in crime from Duke Joe Robertson who looked incredible for a player pool pickup during training camp. 

Strengths
  • Midfield: Who do you pole? With at least 1/2 of the Myles, Perk, Jules, and Nakeie group of dodgers on the field at all times on offense, someone will always get to dodge on a short stick. Unless you want to leave Pannell, Kavanagh, or Garnsey on a shorty at X
  • Faceoff: I’d put my money on that TD will be the best faceoff man in the industry barring another injury like last season. *Knock on Wood*
  • Special Teams: Last season the Woods had both the best Power Play and Penalty Kill percentages in the league.
Weaknesses
  • LSM: With John Sexton out for the time being, all the reps will fall on Kyle Hartzell who is giving it his all, but sadly is not the player he used to be.
  • Offensive Stall: When the Woods share the ball and work offball, they seem unstoppable. However a couple times last year the offense got stuck in loops of trying to just win 1-on-1 matchups which was a part of the Whipsnakes having a chance to comeback in their playoff game.
Question Marks
  • Arden Cohen: How reliable can he be to become the next Woods shutdown matchup, could Landis Island return in the form of Cohen Island?

Archers


Last Year

The Archers have now created their own playoff nemesis in Chaos, the past two PLL seasons the Archers have had massive momentum heading into the playoffs only to be stuffed by Blaze Riorden and the Chaos comeback season. Is this the year they can get over the hump and make their first championship game and win it?

Off-Season Moves

Although they didn’t make many notable player pool signings, the Archers picked up Matt Moore out of Virginia in the first round to strengthen their offensive firepower. They used their next two picks to fill their need for a faceoff man in Justin Inacio, and fortify the goalie position with Canadian Brett Dobson. 

Strengths
  • Offensive Firepower: This offense is stacked, however without stars Grant Ament and Connor Fields Week 1 it will be fun to see how they adjust for the time being. Rumors are swirling that Tom Schreiber may start at attack Sunday.
  • Goaltending: Adam Ghitleman led the league in save percentage last PLL season.
 Weaknesses
  • Defensive Depth: There are only three base defenders listed on the 25-man roster. While they have three LSM’s, the base D depth might be a point of worry for Archers fans.
  • Ament Out: Not much is known as to why Ament is sidelined this week, other than that it is a lower body injury. Hopefully it is nothing serious and we will see him back on the field soon.
Question Marks
  • Faceoff: How will Justin Inacio adjust to the PLL faceoff rules, will he be as dominant as he was at OSU?

Atlas


Last Year

Last year Ben Rubeor completed both the first and quickest rebuild in PLL history, going from the second worst team in the league to the second best team after the regular season, and Jeff Teat missed the first two games! While this offense is the most stacked in the league when it comes to big name young talent, they stumbled in the semifinals when Chaos decided to mix it up and pole all three midfielders, forcing Carraway and Law to be major initiators on short sticks. 

Off-Season Moves

With the second overall pick which they received in the Paul Rabil trade, the Atlas were able to select the NCAA all-time points leader in UNC’s Chris Gray. Another massive pickup to Atlas’ starpower was Towson’s Koby Smith, a dynamic LSM who is anything but afraid to let it fly from 2-point range, arguably some of the best hands in the league from an LSM standpoint.

Strengths
  • Offensive Firepower: Family Style is their mantra and it worked very well last PLL season, who’s to say it won’t be better with even more weapons.
  • Faceoff: Trevor Baptiste is the reigning faceoff athlete of the year and is poised to dominate the stripe yet again.
 Weaknesses
  • Defensive Consistency: With Durkin aging, the Atlas were in the bottom half of the league in Scores Against Average last year and will likely need to bring that up to be successful as they likely won’t be able to run up the score as much as they were last year.
Question Marks
  • Goaltending: After Concannon went down with an injury Week 4, JD Colarusso took over and thrived for the rest of their run and kept the job when Concannon returned from injury. It will be exciting to see who gets the start on Saturday.

Waterdogs


Last Year

The Dogs came out of the regular season as the No.1 seed in the playoffs without Michael Sowers, I believe in large part because of getting to play Cannons and Chrome twice. However they fell in their first playoff game against the defending champs Whipsnakes in a game where they were simply outmatched and unorganized in finding how to incorporate Michael Sowers midseason. 

Off-Season Moves

While the Dogs were without a first round pick in the college draft, with their second round selection they took in my opinion the most Waterdogs player in the draft in Jack Hannah out of Denver, hailing from my own Cincinnati, Ohio. Hannah is a true two-way middie that will be reunited with his college teammate Ethan Walker. This team is very strong in every position and that’s why they have the highest futures odds currently.

Strengths
  •  Two-way Middies: Transition offense has been Coach Copeland’s MO since the expansion draft, and he’s done it well. With guys like Zach Currier and Ryan Conrad, be ready to watch up and down lacrosse all day.
  • Attack: Between Ryan Brown with the right and Ethan Walker with the left, Michael Sowers shouldn’t have any problems having his assists be finished off from anywhere on the field.
  • Defense: Ben Randall is one of the best in the business in 1-on-1 defense.
 Weaknesses
  • Wardo Out: With the Mammoth in the NLL Finals. Dillion Ward will be out at least the first two weeks, if not three. This opens the door for Deluca to get the start, he was solid in the bubble but definitely no Wardo.
Question Marks
  • Faceoff: Jake Withers was just over 50% at 54% last season with his scrappy faceoff style, will he keep it up this season and can Waterdogs rely on him in big moments to get wins?

Whipsnakes


Last Year

For the first time in their existence, Jim Stagnita and his squad did not hoist the cup on the final day, however they were still playing that day which made it hurt that much more. For the rest of the league however it was nice to see someone else come out on top. All the more motivation for the Whips to come back stronger than ever, or is this the last we could see of the Whipsnakes dynasty?

Off-Season Moves

In the college draft the Whips added to their amassed Terp Nation with Roman Puglise and Keegan Khan. In the fourth round they picked up a Canadian Buckeye who is rumored to possibly start at attack in Zed Williams’ absence in Jackson Reid. 

Strengths
  • Mystique: Although they dropped the championship game last year, in most people’s minds they are still the top dog in the league. 
  • Faceoff: Nards continues to be a top faceoff man in the PLL season after season.
 Weaknesses
  • Goaltending: The Whips were the only team in the league to sport a sub 50% save percentage in the regular season, however both Behrnlor and Phipps showed moments of brilliance at the right times.
  • Zed Out: With the Mammoth in the NLL finals Zed Williams will be out for at least the first two if not three weeks of the season. This will create a hole in the Whips attack line that is rumored to be filled by Jackson Reid.
Question Marks
  • Midfield: With Brad Smith looking to be making the move down to attack, who will become the major initiator from the midfield? Gutty? Aslanian? Kirst?

Chaos


Last Year

They are the first to finally take down Goliath. After getting their first shot in the bubble in 2020, the ‘Aos boys once again bombed the regular season, snuck into the playoffs, and then pillaged their way all the way to the championship game. However this year, they won.

Off-Season Moves

While some joked about congratulating the Buffalo Bandits on winning the PLL Championship, the joke has now reversed to the Chaos as the Bandits are possibly about to win the NLL Championship. While this is amazing for the players success, Andy Towers is now without nearly his entire offense for the first two to three weeks. How did he react? Well he took a trip to the player pool and picked up any player with any sort of box background. This group should be fun to watch as they will all be vying for a roster spot once the Bandits return. 

Strengths
  • Goaltending: Blaze is easily the best in the game and he carried the Chaos defense to the 2021 PLL Championship.
  • Two Man Style Offense: Trends of the PLL are heading towards two man games rather than traditional 1-on-1 dodging, and Chaos is leaps and bounds ahead of the game.
 Weaknesses
  • Defense: While Blaze played out of his mind all year, he was getting absolutely shelled. If the Chaos want repeat success, they need to get the rapid occurrence of shots down.
  • Faceoff: With Adler playing with the Bandits, Towers will rely on Tommy Kelly and Jerry Ragonese who are both unproven in the PLL.
Question Marks
  • Offensive New Faces: There is no doubt that these new box guys have talent. But once again, how quickly can they come together?