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Denver Outlaws: 2024 Season Preview

Updated: May 30

2023 Regular Season Record: 1-9, 8th in the PLL

Final Result: Missed Playoffs


Key Additions:

Brennan O’Neill, A

Graham Bundy, M

Connor DeSimone, A/M

Jake Piseno, LSM

Josh Zawada, A


Key Departures:

Jesse King, A

Brendan Nichtern, A (Holdout List)

Colin Heacock, M

Cole Williams, A

Jordan Macintosh, M (Retired)


No longer the Chrome, now the Denver Outlaws, this is a team with nowhere to go but up after 2023. Their struggles a year ago were primarily on the offensive end of the field. Two years ago, Brendan Nichtern played every week and served as a pass first, attack from X, traditional QB of a player that Head Coach Tim Soudan has always loved having in his offense. He made the whole machine work, with both he and Logan Wisnauskas having exceptional rookie years. Nichtern was not available much last year because of military commitments, and the entire offense suffered as there was no clear initiator and no one who played comfortably from X. The first overall pick in the draft, Brennan O’Neill, will look to change the fortunes of the offense. He may not be an X attackman, but he is a talent so prodigious that passing on him was just not in the cards. The player to watch on offense may end up being Josh Zawada, who is the pass first QB type attackmen. Zawada had nearly as many points as O’Neill last year, and led Duke in assists. The draft also yielding Graham Bundy Jr means they can stretch defenses further with a consistent two point threat, another thing they lacked a year ago. Post Draft addition Dalton Young could also fit into the offense, as he can flow between attack and midfield easily. 


The defense for the Outlaws is excellent, but starting to age. Mike Manley is a two time DPOY and still playing at a very high level, but this will be his 13th professional season, and he’s a two league pro. Jesse Bernhardt is entering his 12th season. JT Giles-Harris is the cornerstone player who will draw the top matchup. Jake Piseno could be the top LSM on day one, with Eli Salama on the PUP List. Piseno impacted the college game every way an individual can. He played close, he ran transition, he dodged, he stayed on offense and played on the extra man at times. He’s a threat from two, he can guard an attackman. He rarely subbed off the field in college, his use in the pros will be something to watch, but he and Saam Olexo could form an LSM tandem that is as fun as anyone’s. The shorties are led by Ryan Terefenko, who is rapidly becoming the best two way midfielder in the sport. His growth in the indoor game has fed growth in the outdoor game. He’s good enough to guard attackmen, and there is no higher motor in the PLL. 


Netminding duties will likely belong to Sean Sconone. Soudan said at the draft they would have probably taken Liam Entenmann at 9th overall if he had been there, but that he did love their two goalies. Owen McElroy remains the backup. Facing off, the team brings back Connor Farrell, who is fresh off a title with the Bandits. Farrell joined the Bandits mid season and was a major factor in turning the tide and them getting back to the championship, his confidence should be sky high. The team also drafted Luke Wierman, who is fresh off a title game run for Maryland in which he was the best faceoff specialist in the NCAA tournament. The Outlaws tried prevent some weeks, traditional faceoffs others, and couldn’t find an answer at the spot. The rule changes and personnel could change their fortunes at the spot. 



BEST CASE SCENARIO:


O’Neill takes the league by storm immediately. He runs out of the box and gets to run downhill at matchups. He plays attack and is effective against pro defenders. Drawing a pole immediately, he creates short stick matchups for Justin Anderson and Sam Handley who have productive seasons as shooters. Graham Bundy gets to let fly from two point range with regularity. The Outlaws offense is perfect for stretching defenses to cover a bevy of threats from the outside, including Piseno. No team has to slide as far as the team defending the Outlaws. Zawada plays at X and is the distributor that Soudan has been missing, which allows Wisnauskas to return to his rookie form as one of the best attackmen in the PLL. The defense doesn’t show any age at all, and JT Giles-Harris has yet another year playing like a top five defender in the sport. In a league where the difference between worst and first is razor thin, the Outlaws push for the top seed in the West with their rebuilt offense. 


WORST CASE SCENARIO:


O’Neill out of the box doesn’t work out, and Wisnauskas out of the box really doesn’t either. Neither one looks comfortable and wins consistently as a dodger. The Outlaws shuffle scheme to try and make their personnel work well but it always feels a bit like a square peg in a round hole. The defense with Bernhardt and Manley starts to really show age, as both are a step slower than they’ve been. Faceoffs remain a struggle, as Farrell and Wierman both battle but ultimately can’t stay around 50/50 with the likes of Baptiste, Ierlan, Nardella, and Sisselberger. The Outlaws improve but are by no means a lock for the playoffs in the West.


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