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The Other Guys: A PLL Team From Outside the Top 50

Every year, the PLL releases their Top 50. Voted by the players, it’s a ranking of the 50 best players in the league. It’s an interesting exercise because of how much it departs from fan, media, or even coach points of view on how players stack up. Some players take the voting more seriously than others, but either way, it’s all in fun. It’s a list. It’s meant to draw out the fiercest of fiery takes from Team WhatAbout. The unveiling is a multi week extravaganza of posts in service of a listicle, but that’s just how it’s always been.


As long as the PLL has done this, I follow it with the Not Top 50. I construct a PLL 19 man roster completely from players outside the Top 50. It’s fun because it always is an absolutely loaded roster, and you get even more Team WhatAbout takes. Everybody wins. Or loses. Not totally sure which. With the PLL Top 50 concluded and Tom Schreiber again taking the crown at number one, time to move right along into the real stars of the show. The Other Guys.


Here they are, the 2023 PLL Not Top 50.


ATTACK:

Will Manny

Matt Kavanagh

Wes Berg

Eric Law


Will Manny is probably going to be the first you name in from Team WhatAbout. He finished the year 11th in points, with more points than Michael Sowers. Every player with more points than him finished in the top 20. Of the top 20 point scorers last year, the only players to miss the top 50 were Manny, Eric Law, and Jackson Morrill. But it isn’t just about points. There were three players in the top 15 scorers who took fewer shots than Will Manny: assist kings Jeff Teat and Dhane Smith, and Mike Chanenchuk. Manny remains a fiercely accurate shooter, hitting the net 69% of the time. He has had only two seasons where he shot for a worse percentage than this year, and he was at 27% on the season. Everyone would still take Will Manny on their left side. Speaking of Eric Law, I hope we aren’t arriving at an “Eric Law is slept on” place. Let’s just agree as a group not to do that please. Every year the Atlas add offensive weapons and fans get excited about an attack of Teat, Gray, and the new weapon. The new weapon should never replace Eric Law. He’s still as smart and good as it gets around the goal in the PLL. Matt Kavanagh, our second lefty, had a serious bounce back season. He had one fewer point than Matt Rambo, and played one less game, while also having half as many turnovers. Yet Kav missed the list. And since I don’t particularly care about righty/lefty for the purposes of this team, our last attackman is Wes Berg. The only player in the league to take more than 10 shots and shoot for a better percentage was Law. Berg was just a shade under 50%. As many goals as Asher Nolting, more than Kieran McArdle, Chris Gray, or Tom Schreiber. If the ball is in Wes Berg’s stick, and he’s within 12 yards of the goal, the ball will very soon be deposited into the back of the net. 


MIDFIELD:

Ian Mackay

Bryan Costabile

Jake Carraway

Jules Heningburg

Ryan Ambler

Nakeie Montgomery

Cole Kirst

Jonathan Donville


Midfield is a big group because I’m not dressing a faceoff specialist. That group has some WEAPONS. Ian Mackay earn the a swiss-army machete moniker given to him by Coach Andy Towers this year. He’ll play both ends, he’ll pull up (and score) from 18, he does the work of 2-3 midfielders by himself. If you sort by points, he’ll never be at the top of the list. But that’s a reason why it’s not always a good idea to sort by points. Costabile I believe falls out of the top 50 because of how poor a season the Atlas had. He’s still one of most athletic midfielders in the league. There aren’t too many midfielders off the dodge I’d take ahead of him. He only shot a half percentage point worse than Connor Kelly, one point worse than Will Manny. Next Jake Carraway, who missed the top 50 this year. He spent most of the season banged up, missing a handful of games or playing at less than 100% in others. He still managed 15 points and a pair of twos, and was about a half an inch away from winning the PLL title game at the buzzer. He’ll remind everyone of just how good he is at the Championship Series. I’ll take Jules Heningburg in my midfield any time, because of his ability to dodge and separate both above and below the goal. He’s another player who I think fell in rankings because the Redwoods offense had some really poor games. Nakeie Montgomery maybe for the same reason. I’ll take Nakeie as a two way threat, and a do anything type of midfielder. Like Mackay, if you sort by points, Nakeie won’t ever be at the top, but he’ll touch every category. Reminder that week one he had three assists, had nine ground balls, and held Romar scoreless. Last Woods player I’m taking, Cole Kirst. You can make a case that Kirst is the best midfielder on the Woods, and probably a top 3 offensive weapon on the team. Kirst in seven games had more points than Matt Campbell in 10. Kirst shot 37%, and turned the ball over exactly two times. Ryan Ambler may not fill up the stat sheet but he’s still one of the most important pieces of the Archers. A team that loaded on offense, that many weapons, and you know who has always been on the first midfield line for them? Ryan Ambler. All sorts of weapons come onto the team, how are we going to get all these guys to fit together, all that happens. Ambler is always on the first midfield. Because he always makes the right play, and keeps the team offense working. Finally, have to have Donville on this team. Only a point beind teammate Ryan Drenner, two points behind guys like Matt Rambo this year. Donville was nearly perfectly split assist to goals, and took more opportunities as a dodger this year than last year. He’s also very dangerous around the goal.  So if you guard him with a shorty, he can win off the dodge and score. If you put a pole on him, he can bury the pole inside and waste the matchup. 


DEFENSE/LSM:

Cade Van Raaphorst

Gavin Adler

Jared Conners

Matt McMahon

Liam Byrnes


Defense with this is always really hard. Because there are a lot of really good defensemen in the PLL. Bryce Young, Mike Manley, Jesse Bernhardt, and Tim Muller are all Top 50 good. Obviously the five I picked I believe are Top 50 good. I’ll take CVR because of how well he hunts the two pointer. Atlas loss was Cannons gain with him this year, as Van Raaphorst brought another dimension to their defensive skill group, the threat from distance. Jared Conners has been an LSM of the Year finalist twice, so surprising to see someone held in that high regard left out of the Top 50. I’ll also take his teammate Matt McMahon, who if you followed post games for the Archers you know is really revered by that team. Tom Schreiber has said before how key McMahon is to the defense, both in bringing along younger players, keeping the team organized, winning his own matchup, and still stepping in front of shots and making those type of plays.  Finally Liam Byrnes, who is one of if not the best off ball defender in the league. Byrnes can play pole or close, and always seems to have keyed on exactly what the offense is tying to attack, and put himself in a position to support against it. Gavin Adler was the first overall pick, and happened to play on a very poor defense. That defense got exposed a bit because of faceoff tactics (they basically always played against a 52 and rarely had short clocks) and some underwhelming off ball play. But purely on an individual basis, Adler absolutely earned the 1st overall pick status. He went toe to toe with the best attackman in the PLL every weekend as he often drew top matchup, and came out on the winning side of the individual battle. For a rookie, that should be appreciated. 


FACEOFF:

Lol. I’m facing off with a pole until something changes.


GOALIE:

Brendan Krebs

Kyle Bernlohr


This was not an easy call. Ultimately I went with the two Whips netminders. Bernlohr was Goalie of the Year in 2022. He missed time with an injury this year which is probably what kept him off the list, but he’s still a top netminder in the world. Stepping in for him was Krebs, who performed well. He officially appeared in four games this year, and in those games posted a 54% save percentage. If you want to tell me I’m crazy, and the obvious guy to take here is Jack Kelly, I won’t argue. I’d even pull a Coach Stagnitta and carry three goalies. Kelly made 121 saves this year, a ridiculous number that was good for third in the league. 


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