Chaos Lacrosse Club: 2021 Premier Lacrosse League Preview
Chaos had an unusual past season. After a 2-5 record in group play, they came into the tournament as the lowest-rated seed but proceeded to knock off #2 Chrome and #3 Archers on their way to a championship loss to the Whipsnakes. Chaos traded away Connor Fields in the offseason to Archers and although this was a huge blow, Chaos has done a nice job trying to fill Fields’ role. They made smart selections in both the entry and collegiate draft and traded for key veteran players. Chaos are posed to have a good season.
Entry Draft: Max Adler (FO), Challen Rogers (M), Kyle Jackson (A/M)
College Draft: Mac O’Keefe (A), Kyle Gallagher (FO), Tanner Cook (M), Jared Bernhardt (A), Kyle Thornton (D), Ryan Smith (A)
Player Pool: Dalton Crossan (M), Chase Fraser (A), Austin Kaut (G)
Projected Attack Starters: Josh Byrne, Wes Berg, Mac O’Keefe. Chaos traded away star attackman Connor Fields, but they drafted several college players and picked up players in the entry draft that can make up for Fields’ production. Josh Byrne was the best player on Chaos last year, putting up 20 points including 13 goals. Chaos’ second-leading scorer in 2020 was Curtis Dickson, who will, unfortunately, begin the season on the unavailable to travel list along with Myles Thompson and Ryan Smith. Chaos made three commendable pickups at the attack position, trading for two veterans in Atlas’ Chris Cloutier and Waterdogs’ Wes Berg and drafting Penn State product Mac O’Keefe. All three are primed to contribute: Cloutier is a big body who can finish on the crease, Berg provides another dodging threat at the attack position, and O’Keefe, the best shooter in college lacrosse over the past four years, has a hammer from the outside and is ideal for man-up situations.
Projected Midfield Starters: Dhane Smith, Sergio Salcido, Jake Froccaro. Chaos returns all three of their top midfield scorers in Smith, Salcido, and Froccaro, who scored 28 points, including 13 goals, as a trio over the course of the tournament. Salcido’s journey from a walk-on at Syracuse to a starting midfielder in the PLL is inspiring, and he has elite dodging, underrated vision, and can create shots for his teammates or rocket in shots himself. Chaos drafted UNC’s Tanner Cook in the rookie draft and although he will be on the unavailable to travel list to start the season, he will provide immediately upon his return. After all, Cook is six-foot-five has shown pose when inverting from behind the net.
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Projected Defensive Starters: Jared Neumann, Jack Rowlett, Dan Coates. Chaos will have familiarity at close defense, returning their top three defenders in Neumann, Rowlett, and Coates as well as their top LSMs. Troy Reh and Matt Rees are speedy and feisty LSMs and the combination of the two is one of the best in the PLL. Both can get up and down the field and are threats to score in transition. Neumann is the anchor of this Chaos defense, he forced seven turnovers and vacuumed up 16 ground balls. Rowlett led the team in caused turnovers with nine last year and he and Neumann provide a deadly one-two punch at close defense.
Goalie: Blaze Riordan. The two-time goalie of the year is set to return for his third season with Chaos. Riordan was instrumental in Chaos’s championship run as he made key stops when they needed them. in seven games last year, Riordan had the second-best save percentage in the league at 61% and made 119 total saves, the most in the league by 36 saves. Riordan is as good as it gets for a goalie and with Dillon Ward being traded to the Waterdogs, the starting position is 100% Riordan’s.
In 2020, Chaos had the worst FOGO in the league. Thomas Kelly won only 38% of his draws and got worked by Whipsnakes Joe Nardella in the championship game. Chaos drastically needed to upgrade at the face-off dot and they did just that, adding Max Adler in the entry draft and drafting rookie Kyle Gallagher from Notre Dame. Adler was the best FOGO in the MLL last season and Gallaher won 61% of his draws in 2021. Similar to Archer’s Brendan Fowler and Stephen Kelly, I expect Gallagher and Adler to take a similar number of face-offs. Chaos had the second-ranked offense last season and above-average defense and goaltending, if Adler and Gallagher can be around 50% on their face-offs, this team will win a lot of games.
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