(Photo Courtesy of Premier Lacrosse League)
Editors Note: The 2020 PLL Season, which will be played in a tournament format called the PLL Championship Series, kicks off on July 25th in Salt Lake City, Utah. Over the next week, Lacrosse Bucket will be previewing all seven PLL teams ahead of the season.
Perhaps no team has had as much shakeup this offseason as Chrome LC, who only won two games and finished last in the league in 2019, has. The club brings in a new coaching staff that features longtime pro coach Tim Soudan at the helm and their on the field roster will look much different, with new faces all over the field. And there is no place where that can be seen better than defense, where Chrome really struggled last season.
Chrome does bring back goalie John Galloway and SSDM Will Haus on defense. But that is just about it for impact players on that end of the field returning this season, as they lost defenseman Chris Sabia to Waterdogs LC in the expansion draft, waived BJ Grill, and Joe Fletcher retired. In addition, D/LSM Joel White and defensemen Mike Manley and Ryan Flanagan will not be playing this season due to outside commitments.
However, the cupboard is far from bare, despite losing some key guys like White and Manley. Chrome picked Jesse Bernhardt and Donny Moss in the entry draft and traded for James Barclay and Foster Huggins. In addition, they drafted defenseman Tom Rigney and LSM Reece Eddy in the college draft. They also picked up Jacob Pulver and Eli Salama via the Waiver Wire.
With so many new faces who haven’t played together before it will take a few practices to get everything in sync on defense with this squad, especially at close. And some of those challenges may show themselves in their first few contest. But the one area where they will likely be lethal right out of the gate is at LSM with Eddy and Salama. Sure, they will deeply miss White this season, but even without him, they could have the best LSM group in the league.
Offensively, things will look much more similar for Chrome this season. However, they did trade away midfielders Max Tuttle and Romas Dennis. They also added rookie attackman Matt Gaudet via trade and brought in midfielders Sam Duggan and Jesse King off the Waiver Wire.
The addition of Gaudet gives them another finisher that they can put both there with Ty Thompson. And with Gaudet being a righty and Thompson being a lefty, Chrome has the ability to put two high-quality finishers on the field at once. Pair that up with guys like Justin Guterding and Ned Crotty who know how to dodge and beat their man, and this Chrome offense could be even better than they were the last season. And remember, Chrome was the best six-on-six offense in 2019.
King and Duggan will help take some of the strain off of this midfield unit, which will be without Matt Danowski, who is actually an attackman, due to outside conflicts this summer. But even with the addition of those two and Ned Crotty, who is also actually and attackman, John Rangan, and Jordan MacIntosh returning, Chrome still features a fairly thin midfield unit, especially if they are planning on trying to take advantage of the transition game more this season.
Will they have someone like Gaudet run out of the box? Will they try and rely solely on LSM’s for offensive transition opportunities? How this team will consistently get up and down the field is probably the biggest question. They are all set for success in the six-on-six on both ends, but winning the transition game is crucial for success with the shorter field.
Luckily, if they do struggle in transition, this offense should get plenty of settled six-on-six opportunities with Connor Farrell, who was second in the league in faceoff percentage (54.5%) last season, back at the dot.