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Redwoods 2023 Season Outlook

2022 Regular Season Record: 4-6

Final Result: Lost to Archers in Quarterfinals


Key Additions:


Wes Berg, A

Zach Cole, FO

Owen Grant, D

Eli McLaughlin, A

Ryan Lee, A

Brian Tevlin, M

John Piatelli, A


Key Departures:


Pat Harbeson, SSDM

Kyle Hartzell, D/LSM

Matt Kavanagh, A

Finn Sullivan, D

Jack Near, SSDM


Last year, the Redwoods got out to a rough start. They lost their first two games by a combined score of 29-14, only managing three goals in Week 2. There was a rush to write the Woods off early in the year as it looked like a lot of hero ball that leaned hard on a defense. A switch in net to Jack Kelly and a return of vintage Rob Pannell had the Woods looking much more competitive than they probably got credit for. They had one goal losses to Whips, Archers, and Chrome. They had wins over Atlas, Chaos, and Waterdogs. The Woods were still talented enough to play with anyone, it just didn’t translate to the win/loss record for them.


Joining them this offseason, and not listed above because he’s not playing for the team, is new OC John Grant Jr. A lacrosse icon, Junior is one of the greatest players of all time, and his coaching chops have been on display at programs in the college ranks. His joining, and the addition of players like Eli McLaughlin and Wes Berg, plus the return of Ryan Lee and the acquisition of John Piatelli, could lead to a much more box style offense getting played. No one will confuse this team with Chaos, they’ll still use weapons like Myles Jones, Sergio Perkovic, Jules Heningburg, Nakeie Montgomery, and Pannell, all of whom are certainly field first players. But Charlie Bertrand’s role as an offensive key weapon may even further develop given his success in both pro leagues.


The Woods defense is still the heart of the team. Garrett Epple, Arden Cohen, John Sexton, and a back from injury Eddy Glazener form a well built and organized unit. Owen Grant joins as the second overall pick in the draft, making the Woods strength that much stronger. His aggression, on ball prowess, and lock down cover skills are a natural pairing to the other defensive personnel. But Grant might already be the best transition threat as a defender on the team, even ahead of Sexton. He hunted offensive opportunities as well as any pole in college last season.


TD Ierlan is coming off a down year in which he won 53.6% of his draws. Some of this is in no small part due to the absence of Sexton, and his wing play not being as strong as it was in his rookie year. Grant very much helps there, as does a healthy Sexton. The Woods bolstered the group anyway, adding Zach Cole in the draft.


BEST CASE SCENARIO


Junior puts his fingerprints all over the offense, creating a box/field balance and hybrid that shares the ball well. Pannell keeps his form from last year, and is once again among the league leaders in assists. The midline of Bertrand/Jones/Perkovic physically overpowers defenses, as the three share the ball well with Bertrand emerging as a initiator and the league’s next superstar. Owen Grant brings the threat of transition play from the poles at a level the Woods haven’t had in the past, while Garrett Epple once again is at DPOY level. The Woods play themselves onto the winning side of the close games they lost a year ago, and are a top two team in the regular season.


WORST CASE SCENARIO


The mixing of box and field takes a long time to implement, and while the players struggle to get used to it, the Woods revert to playing hero ball. It causes the offense to sputter, and their very difficult early schedule puts them in a hole that they struggle to get out of and climb the standings. Owen Grant can’t play to his real strengths as an LSM, and the Woods end up having to make tough decisions with their close unit early on in the year. Ierlan’s down year turns out to be a down two years, and the combination of struggling with possession and an offense that’s disjointed keeps the Woods stuck in the mud all season.


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