Atlas Lacrosse Club: 2021 Premier Lacrosse League Preview
The Atlas lacrosse club has had a hard time in the PLL. In two years they have a record of 6-9, and this past offseason the team cut or traded several valuable players. Atlas had the first pick in the 2021 collegiate draft and selected Cornell stud attackman Jeff Teat, but he is set to start the season on the “unavailable to play” list and his debut is still coming at an unknown time. Atlas’ bright spot was bringing back top face-off man Trevor Baptiste. Baptiste, the best FOGO of all time, changed the face-off game and Coach Ruebor and company look to bounce back in 2021 after two lackluster seasons.
Entry Draft: Dan Bucaro (A), Michael Rexrode (D), Andrew Newbold (D), Brendan Sunday (A)
College Draft: Jeff Teat (A), Dox Aitken (M), Jake Carraway (A), Danny Logan (SSDM), Peter Dearth (SSDM), Gerard Arceri (FO)
Player Pool: Mark Cockerton (A), Kyle Pless (LSM), JD Colarusso (G), Sam Luchessi (G)
Projected Attack Starters: Eric Law, Dan Bucaro, Jake Carraway. This attack unit looks a lot different from 2020, as Law is the only attackman to return in 2021 after Atlas lost three of their top four-point leaders in Rob Pannell, Chris Cloutier, and Ryan Brown. These are huge losses, but they did draft Teat and he will start as soon as he can play. Dan Bucaro was a good pickup in the entry draft, as he was the MLL Rookie of the Year in 2020 and should be the starting x-attackman from day one on this Atlas team. Carraway was a Tewaaraton finalist this past season for Georgetown and was a goal-scoring machine. This attack unit had a lot of roster change this offseason but as long as Teat plays, they should be serviceable.
Projected Midfield Starters: Romar Dennis, Kevin Unterstein, Bryan Costabile. The Atlas midfield group also saw a lot of turnover in the offseason. Unlike the attack unit, the midfield returns their top three midfielders in Dennis, Unterstein, and Costabile. Dennis might have the best split dodge in lacrosse and shoots with efficiency while on the run, and Costabile, although he only tallied nine points in his rookie season, proved to be valuable on both offense and defense. Atlas’ depth at midfield is beneficial as well. The team has veterans like Brent Adams, John Crawley, and Joel Tinney, as well as some immediate impact rookies like Dox Aitken and Peter Dearth. Aitken can serve as another dodger from up top while Dearth will play short-stick defensive midfield.
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Projected Defensive Starters: Tucker Durkin, Cade van Raaphorst, Austin Pifani. There is a theme to this Atlas team and the defense follows it as well. There was a lot of turnover at this position during the offseason, as Atlas returned Durkin and van Raaphorst but lost two key veterans in Kyle Hartzell and Callum Robinson. Durkin is the anchor and leader of this defense; he has been a top defender in both the PLL and MLL since he came out of Hopkins. Alongside Durkin, van Raaphorst led the league in caused turnovers with 12 and scooped up 21 ground balls as well. Durkin and van Raaphorst will be starters every game but the third spot is more uncertain. My guess is Austin Pifani, but entry draft pick Michael Rexrode could also see some time.
Goalie: Jack Concannon. Concannon has been one of the more consistent pieces for this Atlas club, sitting top five in save percentage at 57% and total saves with 69. The Hofstra product made double-digit saves in all five games they played last season and had a huge 13 save game against the Redwoods where he saved 65% of the shots he faced. With all the chaos and roster movement on this Atlas team, Concannon has provided some clarity and consistency in the net.
Trevor Baptiste is an elite FOGO in the PLL, winning 54% of his draws. This percentage ranks him number three of all FOGOs who took more than 100 draws last season. Like Concannon, Baptiste has been a consistent piece on a very fluid roster. I also like the Gerard Arceri pick in the college draft. Although Arceri is certainly not starting over Baptiste, Baptiste had taken over 350 face-offs in just two years, and having a solid backup is crucial.
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