Whipsnakes

Whipsnakes Lacrosse Club: 2021 Premier Lacrosse League Preview

The Whipsnakes return several key starters, including the top two leading point scorers in the league in Matt Rambo and Zed Williams. The team blitzed through the 2020 season, going 6-0 in a condensed “bubble format” on their way to a championship win, and they have not lost a game since August 25th of 2019. They were top three in every major stat category and for most stats, they ranked number one, including total offense and defense. They scored the most goals in the league and their defense gave up 8.5 scores a game, which was the least in the league by two scores. This team has a perfect mix of star power and underrated depth at the midfield and defense positions. 

Additions

Entry Draft: Chris Aslanian (A), Charlie Hayes (SSDM), Bryan Cole (M)

College Draft: Connor Kirst (M), Ryan Tierney (A), Colin Squires, (D), Nick Grill (D)

Player Pool: Matt Abbott (SSDM), Kevin Reisman (FO), Alex Spring (LSM), Frank Brown (M), Reed Junkin (G), Alex Ready (G), Simon Mathias (A), Jack Jasinski (M)

Offense

Projected Attack Starters: Matt Rambo, Zed Williams, Jay Carlson. Rambo and Williams were number one and two respectively in total points in 2020, and Williams took home the 2020 MVP award as a rookie while Rambo remains a unique talent with elite vision and underrated dodging. Both should replicate their 2020 production as a dynamic tandem. 

Projected Midfield Starters: Mike Chanencuk, John Haus, Brad Smith. This is as good a midfield line in the entire league, and this trio scored 24 goals in six games last year on their way to a championship win. Chanencuk provides a consistent threat from the midfield position coupled with a great feeding ability, and while it seems like Haus has played professional lacrosse for 20 years, all he does is produce results. Veterans like Chanencuk and Haus can provide much-needed veteran leadership for Smith and rookies Connor Kirst and Ryan Tierney. Kirst was the top midfielder in the draft and he fell to #8 where the Whipsnakes snagged him. He is a big body and can dodge for himself and create opportunities for his teammates.  

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Defense/ Goaltending

Projected Defensive Starters: Bryce Young, Matt Dunn, Tim Muller. Like the Whipsnakes’ offense, their defense has arguably been the best in the league over the past two years. Dunn is a top-three close defenseman in the league and has the hardware to show for it, being named the defensive player of the year in 2020 after being runner-up for the award in 2019. Other than the top three dogs, rookie Nick Grill locked down #2 overall pick Michael Sowers in the semifinals of this year’s college tournament. I think Grill can crack the rotation and if he does not get time playing close defense, he can still run at LSM. They lost short stick defender of the year Ty Warner to retirement, so Grill could fill that role very nicely. He is too talented to not be on the field. 

Goalie: Kyle Bernlohr has been great in net his entire time as a pro. In 2020, Bernlohr had a save percentage of 63%, ranked number one in the league, and racked up 83 total saves which ranked second behind Blaze Riordan. They also added former Loyola MD goalie Jacob Stover who can serve as a solid backup for Bernlohr. 

Face-Off

The Whipsnakes have the best face-off specialist in the league in Joe Nardella, who won an insane 72% of his draws. The closest FOGO to Nardella is Chrome’s Connor Farrell, who won 62% of his face-offs. Having a dominant FOGO is key to getting extra possessions, and extra possessions help teams close out games. 

This marks the first PLL season after the merger with Major League Lacrosse. Of the MLL teams, the Boston Cannons were the only team that was kept in the merger, the Cannons Lacrosse Club became the 8th team in the PLL. With an expansion draft of all the MLL players as well as a rookie draft completed rosters are just about set. The Premier Lacrosse League kicks off its third season this upcoming weekend with games at Gillette Stadium. This week I will be previewing all eight teams leading up to the opening games on June 4th.

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