Lacrosse fans know with only eight teams in the PLL the talent pool is ridiculous. Every team is stacked with big names. We have seen throughout the brief history of the PLL a relatively even playing field, any given day any team can win. With so much talent, how do you differentiate a good offense from an elite offense?
Any PLL team can field an offense filled with All-Americans and All-Stars. However there is only one ball to go around, meaning each team needs to have players in different roles to make the system click. An elite offense in the PLL is built when every player is excelling in their given role. I broke these down into five different roles as listed below.
1. The Guys
Emphasis on the plural as most teams usually have two of them. The Guys are the ones who will initiate the offense most of the time, the ball is in their stick when the game is on the line. When you go to the local deli, The Guys have sandwiches named after them. They set up their teammates all over the field while creating scoring opportunities for themselves. The wide arrange of different skillsets of The Guys is for another article.
First Team All-The Guys: Jeff Teat, Lyle Thompson, Matt Rambo
2. The Other Guys
The Other Guys are in charge of being secondary dodgers and excel attacking once the defense is scrambling. It is also Will Ferrell’s most underrated movie. They find ways to impact the game when everyone least expects it, they’re always ready when called upon to action. A key part to any offense, as they usually will have more favorable matchups and can be the difference in games.
First Team All-The Other Guys: Brad Smith, Charlie Bertrand, Justin Anderson
When they wind up you expect to see the net rattle. The kids at summer camp that raked in new heads every year for cranking 81mph at 12 years old. Shooters are a necessity for every team, especially with the two point arc in play. Within the offense, their role is to find open spaces to catch and shoot, while also setting up all over the field stretching dodging/passing lanes. They open up the defense and create unbelievable slow-mo highlights at “Scintillating” angles.
First Team All-Shooters: Ryan Brown, Mac O’Keefe, Mike Chanenchuck
4. Greasy Finishers
The greasy adjective is necessary as these guys often get mistaken as just finishers or crease guys. Outside of catching and finishing inside tight spaces, greasy finishers will also come out successful in scrappy ground ball pileups, create space for their teammates with hard cuts, and provide ludacris backhand and between-leg goals. They do not require the ball to be in their stick long to impact the game. How important are they? Jay Carlson has dominated this role since the first year of the PLL and the Whipsnakes have continued to be the standard of success in the league.
First Team All-Greasy Finishers: Jay Carlson, Eric Law, Chris Cloutier
5. Glue Guys
Need a hard pick set? Got you. Catch and quick relay? Not a problem. Coach needs a hot dog at halftime? They are on their way to the concession stand. Glue guys put together the whole offense. While often seen in the blurry part of PLL highlights, their impact throughout the game can not go unnoticed. Every other role needs them in order to fully succeed on their own. High lacrosse IQ allows Glue Guys to impact the offense without needing the ball. They provide whatever is needed to the offense and carry a diverse game where they can fill in wherever is needed.
First Team All Glue-Guys: Jordan Macintosh, Ryan Ambler, Ryan Drenner
While every PLL team displays different offensive schemes and personnel, within it you can see where every player fits into their respective role on offense. The Whipsnakes have been to all three championships, winning two, and they have guys that are top-tier within each role.
What can be frustrating for lacrosse fans is seeing unbelievable talent not being able to put it together on offense, despite it all checking out on paper. It is not always about the talent, when teams don’t have guys to fill the roles listed above it can cause a log jam in the system. With only 52 seconds on the shot clock each possession, there isn’t time for jams and teams often have to adjust on the fly. The easiest way to adjust on the fly? Not having to because players will already be within their roles.