Michael Sowers is an immense talent and was expected to have a huge impact for the Waterdogs since day one, but so far the Waterdogs haven’t had the success they thought they would have with Sowers on the field. Sowers has had some unlucky injury problems early in his career, which has led the Waterdogs to find a new offensive identity with him on the sideline.
Entering the 2022 season, it was expected that Sowers would help take last year’s top seed to another level, but so far early this season, it hasn’t developed as planned. But after putting up 18 goals against the reigning league MVP and the Chaos defense along with beating the Whipsnakes last week, the Waterdogs might have found their offense game plan going forward.
Last season the Waterdogs lost Sowers after a scary concussion during the first game of the season. Their original game plan was to have Sowers quarterback an offense that featured Ryan Brown, Kieran McArdle, Connor Kelly and others. With Sowers being known for setting up plays at X, it was expected that the offense would run though his playmaking abilities.
After his week one injury though, Kieran McArdle became the man to run the offense for the Waterdogs and he helped them finish third in the league in scoring. When Sowers came back for the playoffs, it seemed the Waterdogs would have even more firepower, but the offense seemed to stall against the Whipsnakes and their postseason ended after one game.
Fast forward to 2022, with Sowers fully healthy and hearing the criticism, he has come out the gates hot, scoring 12 points in 3 games. Even with Sowers producing, the other half of the team just couldnt seem to find its game to start the season. It wasn’t until Sowers was out due to injury for Week 3 this season, that McArdle assumed his position as the main playmaker again on offense. With Sowers out, McArdle had a PLL career high 7 points against the Whipsnakes.
It was becoming obvious that McArdle was having more success when Sowers wasn’t playing. McArdle averaged 4 points per game and shot 32% in games in which Sowers didn’t play and only averaged one point on 11% shooting in three regular season games with Sowers on the field. Now this isn’t to say that Sowers isn’t a good player, but it seems like him and McArdle just haven’t found chemistry and the coaching staff hasn’t found a way to put both players in successful situations together.
But with Sowers coming back from injury for Week 4 and being on a “pitch count” it seemed the Waterdogs may have accidentally found the way to get both players going. Early on in the game against the Chaos, the Waterdogs seemed to have Sowers play more at GLE instead of directly behind the crease and when he gets the ball, he was trying to create offense on the either side of the crease.
The Waterdogs coaching staff also found ways to get the ball in McArdle’s stick more as well. Just like previous games, McArdle would run the offense when Sowers was off the field, but even when Sowers was out there, they had plays designed for McArdle and would not have the offense run through Sowers.
Sowers also seemed to do more movement without the ball in his stick. It wasn’t that he was a decoy, but they seemed to make him less predictable to the defense. His off ball movement was the best it has been to this point in his career and because of that it was creating more space for his teammates. If Sowers can continue playing the way he did against the Chaos, its going to make the Waterdogs a multidimensional offense.
McArdle and Sowers have only played five games together, and it is obvious it has taken some time for Sowers to get acclimated to the PLL, but it finally looks like Sowers is getting more comfortable. On top of that, it looks like the Waterdogs are creating an offensive system that allows both Sowers and McArdle to be successful.
By relieving Sowers of his offensive responsibility while coming back from injury, it looks like the Waterdogs found the blueprint for their offense going forward. If the offense can play similarly the rest of the season, the Waterdogs might be able to dig themselves out of their early season hole and get back into the playoff picture before the season ends.