Before the college lacrosse season, our Ryder Cochrane came up with 21 predictions for the 2021 men’s DI season. Now just before the PLL begins, we’re bringing our staff together to deliver 21 predictions for the 2021 PLL campaign.
Ryder, Ryan Conwell, Nick Zoroya, and Nick “Peaches” Pietras each took five, and Justin Meyer came through with one prediction of his own for the 2021 PLL season. All together, we have 21 predictions, and you should take them very, very seriously.
21 Predictions for 2021 PLL
Ryder’s PLL Predictions
1. Waterdogs regret Ward trade. The Waterdogs made a bit of a gamble, trading their 2022 first rounder in the College Draft to Chaos in exchange for goalie Dillon Ward. While I expect Ward to be good and certainly improve the Waterdogs, I’m also predicting that the Waterdogs are a contender for the No. 1 overall pick…which could mean them giving up the potential right to draft Chris Gray for Chaos’s backup goalie.
2. Cannons sneak into playoffs behind Lyle Thompson. The Cannons will just get into the playoffs as the fourth team, led by a season from Lyle Thompson that not only reminds anybody fading the MLL the past few years what he’s capable of, but also landing Lyle as an MVP finalist in his first season in the PLL.
3. Rookie of the Year won’t be one of the top-five draft picks. Jeff Teat has fallen off the face of the earth. Michael Sowers could win it, but again, I’m not high on Waterdogs this year. I doubt JT Giles-Harris gets it as a pole (voters like points), and Jared Conners will split too much time. The top-five picks’ best hopes are probably in Redwoods’ TD Ierlan, but A) this is an incredibly deep class that could provide a ton of competition from the field, and B) Ierlan will need to be let out of the locker that Nick Ossello shoved him in first.
4. Three of last year’s starting goalies don’t finish the season as starters. One is a freebie, because Dillon Ward replaces the Waterdogs’ tag team of starters. I also think that, by season’s end, Sean Sconone will have overtaken John Galloway as the Chrome’s goalie of the present, in addition to goalie of the future. The third is a little harder to gauge, but my semi-hot take is that Jack Kelly will steal the Redwoods’ job by playoff time.
5. Whipsnakes make a third-straight final…but lose to the Archers. Whipsnakes is hilariously stacked, but I think we’re underrating how stacked this Archers team is, too. It’s got two former MVP runner-ups in Tom Schreiber and Connor Fields. Grant Ament could be an MVP finalist this year if he continues to grow. The Archers have two of the, what, five-best LSMs in the world right now in Scott Ratliff and Jared Conners. They improved their offense and their defense. If they can also improve at the faceoff stripe (which is the biggest advantage Whipsnakes have over them), they could be a serious title contender.
Peaches’ PLL Predictions
6. Chrome drop off in season’s second half. The Chrome start off hot but fall off after All-Star weekend. They have the potential to win some games coming out of the gate, but that magic can only last so long.
7. Grant Ament reaches superstar status. Grant Ament will break the top 10 in PLL’s Top 50 Players List. He finished his rookie season at No. 12, but he will easily break the top 10 after completing a full season this summer.
8. Mac O’Keefe arrives with a statement. Mac O’Keefe will record more than 30 points in his rookie year. The Chaos will utilize Mac to his fullest potential, and he will beat out other attackmen in the league from day one.
9. Archers = efficiency. The Archers will have the most efficient offense in the league. This team simply has too many weapons to not earn this title.
10. Redwoods don’t survive the quarters. As talented as this Redwoods team is, I think this is the year the Redwoods begin to fall off. Even with its talented roster and great coaching, I don’t think this team will be able to keep up with the competition this year and will fall victim in some close games.
Ryan’s PLL Predictions
11. The No. 1 seed in the playoffs won’t be the No. 1 team at the All-Star Break. With another expansion this year by adding the Cannons, adding MLL players, and a rookie class full of contributors, rosters are in major flux from a year ago, let alone 2019. This will mean teams are going to come into their own at different times. To me, that means the No. 1 seed won’t be known until late, and there probably won’t be a clear front runner.
12. The MVP won’t win the championship. This is a little out there, but we’ve had an MVP from the champion Whipsnakes the past two years (Rambo & Zed). I think this year, with another full season and with the talent so concentrated, a player will have a massive year but ultimately not win the title.
13. Rubeor will win Coach of the Year. Now, this comes with a qualifier: IF the Atlas rebuild actually works, and part of that may be if Jeff Teat ever joins the squad. But if the Atlas change so much of their team from last year and Rubeor sees some major success, he’ll likely earn some recognition for the turnaround.
14. Leading goal scorer: Ryan Lee. OK, this is a homer pick because I’m still on a high from the RIT championship win. But Lee has improved with each season in the MLL and NLL. The ‘Woods offense is full of weapons, but he’s a player who can get himself open and find the back of the net with regularity. He was automatic in last year’s MLL bubble, and initial reports from camp suggest he’s on target for that again.
15. Top goalie save percentage: John Galloway. The talk around Chrome and Galloway is that he’s getting into the twilight of his career (see Ryder’s prediction No. 4). Coach Soudan is already looking for the next goalie to step up, and Chrome did so by getting Sean Sconone in the PLL Entry Draft. But Galloway isn’t done. With the rebuilt Chrome defense making massive strides a year ago, adding Joel White and JT Giles-Harris means it will be a totally different team from two years ago when his numbers took a huge hit relative to his career expectations. If this goes in the right direction, Galloway might be able to turn this into a huge year for the Chrome.
Nick’s PLL Predictions
16. TD Ierlan will be an All Star. I’ve heard from some experts that his skill set will translate seamlessly to the PLL rules, and given his extreme quickness and high IQ, I think he’s set to succeed in a major way.
17. Canadians make it over before the All Star Game. Rumors are swirling about when some of the game’s best players can join the U.S. based teams, and I’m betting it’s before the All-Star Break on July 18.
18. Colin Heacock drops at least 15. Heacock will net at least 15 goals in 2021. He’s built for the PLL. Look for him to benefit from all the attention put on the Chrome attack unit.
19. Chaos has the highest GAA and goals scored. Chaos will play fast and loose. While I expect Blaze Riorden to be above 50%, when you take as many shots as I believe the Chaos will on offense, by nature you will have more shots coming back at you the other way.
20. Paul Rabil retires a champion. It’s been an illustrious playing career for Paul Rabil, and I’m calling this as his final season. We all know he won’t be leaving the sport any time soon, but it may be time to hang up those cleats. But he couldn’t go out without getting to the top of the sport. The Cannons are looking stellar in the preseason, and with Lyle Thompson and some other stars in the mix, I see a top-end team at a minimum. I’m going a step further, though, and predicting the Cannons win one for the Ripper and Rabil retires a champion.
Justin’s PLL Prediction
21. The Premier Lacrosse League and English Premier League will merge to form the Intercontinental Super Premier League. For a couple years, these two leagues, both designated with premier status, have coexisted without violence, but that can only last for so long. The options will be clear: a bloody war that will destroy millions of lives, or a peaceful resolution that will merge the leagues as one. I choose to believe the peaceful option will be the one taken.
What will this new league look like? Will they play lacrosse, soccer, or some kind of lacrosse-soccer hybrid? That’s for the PLL and EPL to decide and me to be mad about when it happens. But mark my words, it will happen. Nothing is sacred.