By Joe Keegan, Premier Lacrosse League
Picks: 1, 12, 13, 24
Needs: Do team needs matter when Pat Spencer is on the board?
Fits: Pat Spencer (Loyola), Craig Chick (Lehigh), Isaac Paparo (UMass)
Seriously, does it matter what your “team needs” are when Pat Spencer is on the board? Take the talent and figure it out later. Spencer is a ball-dominant feeder who has worked on his step-down shooting as an upperclassman; he’ll have to polish it further to play alongside other ball-carriers like Tom Schreiber and Kevin Rice. But it’s easy to envision the possibilities for this offense.
Spencer has bumped up from X to the wing more often as a senior. He’s playing two-man games — both as a ball-carrier and as a picker — with freshman Chase Scanlan. Marcus Holman (37.6% catch-and-shoot percentage) would be lethal picking and slipping for Spencer. Schreiber is more comfortable in either role after a few seasons indoors. Rice could thrive in that role as well.
The biggest question for the Archers: Who runs out of the box? Spencer, Rice, Holman and Will Manny are natural attackmen. Someone would need to play midfield. It’s a relatively small question, though — and not nearly as nauseating as the corresponding question opposing coaches face: Who do you short-stick?
Later in the draft, the Archers may target some defenders who fit their scheme. Matt McMahon and company will apply pressure, especially as teams substitute. They will cause turnovers at an alarming rate. Enter: Craig Chick. At Lehigh, Chick has averaged 2.4 caused turnovers per game. He eats up space when they sink into a zone and he throws mean checks when Lehigh plays man-to-man defense.
Isaac Paparo (UMass) is another pole with a high motor who could fit on this defense. Paparo has 27 career points (14G, 13A). Imagine him running two-pole face-off wings or fast breaks with Scott Ratliff. Yikes!
Picks: 2, 11, 14, 23
Needs: Team defenders, midfield depth
Fits: Cade Van Raaphorst (Duke), Dylan Gaines (Denver), Brad Smith (Duke)
On paper, the Atlas LC defense is full of on-ball bullies. Tucker Durkin (6-2, 215), Callum Robinson (6-4, 242), Kyle Hartzell (6-1, 195), Mike Simon (6-5, 195), Ryan Flanagan (6-5, 215), Tim Semisch (6-8, 250) and Austin Pifani (6-2, 215) comprise the biggest defense in the league. There are also a few notorious ball-watchers in this bunch.
Surrounding Durkin with more team defenders will make life easier for goalies Scott Rodgers and Jack Concannon. Opponents shot a paltry 19.4% unassisted when driving from X against Durkin’s defense last summer; knowing that there’s one matchup that you don’t need to slide to will alleviate some off-ball confusion for this bunch. But when they slide to support short-sticks, are they synchronized as they collapse to the crease and extend to step-down shooters?
Cade Van Raaphorst (Duke) is the best all-around defender in this draft class. Dylan Gaines (Denver) currently anchors one of the nation’s best units out west.
It would be a shock if he fell to the Atlas’ 11th overall pick, but Brad Smith (Duke) would provide some youth to a veteran midfield group. He has played some attack for the Blue Devils as a senior, but looks more comfortable dodging from the top of the box. Playing alongside Rabil could do wonders for his game. He’s already a strong passer (1.16 assists per game over his career). Rabil was able to take his passing (1.05 assists per game at Johns Hopkins) to the next level as a pro. Any advice Rabil could pass on to the rookie would be invaluable.
Picks: 6, 7, 18, 19
Needs: Box-field hybrid scorers, defensive depth
Fits: Clarke Petterson (Cornell), Daniel Bucaro (Georgetown), Nick Spillane (Penn State), Colton Jackson (Denver), Johnny Surdick (Army)
Box lacrosse players will thrive in this offense. The late, great Dave Huntley’s nephew Clarke Petterson (Cornell) played for Chaos LC defenseman Brodie Merrill at The Hill Academy in high school. Over the summer, Petterson tallied 97 points (33 goals, 64 assists) for the Brampton Excelsiors. The Chaos offense is loaded with lefties: Connor Fields, Josh Byrne, Austin Staats, Deemer Class and Kevin Buchanan. A righty finisher might be the final piece to this offense’s puzzle.
Some dark horse candidates that would fit here: Colton Jackson (Denver) has 2-point range. He’s a field-first player, but four years in Matt Brown’s hybrid offense has prepared him for a quick catch-and-release role. Ditto for Nick Spillane (Penn State), who has played every role imaginable in the Nittany Lions’ pairs-heavy offense. Last spring when Grant Ament was injured, Spillane moved to X and dished out 27 assists. This spring, he’s back above the cage and shooting 42.6%. Daniel Bucaro (Georgetown) has a silky smooth dodge-to-shoot game; he’s always working to improve his angle and keep his stick to the inside of the field.
Picks: 3, 10, 15, 22
Needs: Goalie, two-way midfielders
Fits: Tim Troutner Jr. (High Point), Ryan Conrad (Virginia), Drew Schantz (Notre Dame)
John Galloway has accomplished nearly everything you can on a lacrosse field. From NCAA titles to gold medals, Galloway’s accolades would take longer to list than Daenerys Targaryen’s titles. There’s one thing he hasn’t done yet: Win a professional championship. Will he ride off into the sunset if the Chrome capture the crown?
Tim Troutner Jr. (High Point) would be great insurance for that scenario. Like Galloway, he’s an energetic, sweatpant-donning goalie capable of making plays outside of his crease. Whether it’s endline run outs or pickoff attempts, Troutner acts as a seventh defender. That’s the type of energy the Chrome will get from their incumbent starter. Watch Galloway’s reaction anytime a Chrome defender blocks a shot this summer. He’s like a one-man NBA bench mob, except instead of sitting courtside, he’s between the pipes.
With so many attackmen-turned-midfielders in this offense, the Chrome will benefit from running some two-way midfielders. Their first step from offense to defense projects to be among the league’s worst. Ryan Conrad (Virginia) would fix that. He’s comfortable logging a defensive shift after an offensive turnover. Drew Schantz (Notre Dame) would help spark transition in the other direction.
Picks: 5, 8, 17, 20
Needs: Face-off athlete, natural SSDMs
Fits: Alex Woodall (Towson), Austin Henningsen (Maryland), Zach Goodrich (Towson), TJ Comizio (Villanova), John Prendergast (Duke)
Greg Gurenlian’s “Last Ride” was two years ago. He took 2018 off from professional lacrosse to prepare for the world games. His goal: Avenge USA’s 2014 loss to Canada. Mission accomplished.
The Redwoods won’t have Gurenlian and the possession advantage that he provides forever. Alex Woodall (Towson) and Austin Henningsen (Maryland) are great options. Woodall shed 25 pounds prior to his senior season. He’s having a career year, facing off at 75.2% with two goals and six assists.
Defensively, this team could use some natural short-stick defenders. Their current roster is loaded with two-way guys: Nick Ossello, Pat Harbeson, Jack Near and Brent Adams. Some are more experienced on offense than others, but adding some short-stick stoppers could help that current unit flex their versatility.
Zach Goodrich (Towson) has covered attackmen with a short-stick — most notably Ohio State’s Eric Fannell during the 2017 Final Four. TJ Comizio (Villanova) is a takeaway machine (55 career caused turnovers). John Prendergast (Duke) is playing well enough to get cut by Paul Carcaterra later in May. Short-stick defensive midfield isn’t the prettiest position, but at this level, it may be the most important.
Picks: 4, 9, 16, 21
Needs: More Terps, inverting midfielders
Fits: Curtis Corley (Maryland), Greyson Torain (Navy)
It doesn’t matter that the Whipsnakes have a decade’s worth of Terp defenders already on the roster; they need one more. Curtis Corley (Maryland) is an obvious fit.
Offensively, this team could use an invert threat from the midfield. All of their midfielders are carbon copies: capital-L, capital-R threats to sweep or to drive the alley. Greyson Torain (Navy) provides a similar athleticism with some experience behind the cage.
The Midshipmen have inverted Torain — either for isolation or for razor picks — throughout his collegiate career. His footwork and explosiveness is a problem from anywhere on the field. He can initiate or, when he draws a short-stick, play big-little pick-and-rolls with Matt Rambo, Ben Reeves or Jules Heningburg.