2022 Regular Season Record: 5-5
Final Result: Won PLL Championship
Jake Carraway, A
Chris Fake, D
Alex Mazzone, D
Thomas McConvey, M
Ryan Brown, A
Steven DeNapoli, M
The defending champs didn’t do a ton in free agency in the way of new talent. What they did do was lock up their core of players on multi-year deals. Ryan Conrad, Zach Currier, Jack Hannah Connor Kelly, Kieran McArdle, Ben Randall, Ryland Rees, Michael Sowers, and Ethan Walker, among others, are all signed through at least 2024. The drafted rookies get three year deals, meaning Thomas McConvey, Alex Mazzone, Chris Fake, and James Reilly are signed through 2025.
Before the draft, Head Coach/GM Andy Copelan said the Waterdogs wouldn’t be as aggressive because they didn’t need to be like in past years. The roster is very solid, and for this year and the next. The defending champs will essentially be rolling the ball out and picking up where they left off. Retirements did hit hard. Ryan Brown presumably is filled by Jake Carraway joining the ranks of a an attack group that can run guys at multiple spots. Replacing DeNapoli in the locker room will be challenging. Losing the captain of the team is never easy. The vet presence on this team makes it a lot more tolerable though. Zach Currier, Dillon Ward, and Kieran McArdle provide more than enough leadership for this group.
The Waterdogs remain maybe the most versatile team in the league. Both ends are loaded with guys who can play anywhere. Currier, Kelly, newly drafted McConvey, Sowers, Conrad, Hannah, these guys can move basically anywhere on the offensive end and be comfortable. On the other end Byrnes is the same story, he can play anywhere. Chris Sabia can as well, but he will start the year on the PUP list. Draftee Alex Mazzone offers the same flexibility. The Waterdogs have withstood some brutal injury plagued weeks because they can flex their lineup so well, and remaining positioned well to do the same.
The major question for the Waterdogs will be, once again, the early part of the season. Dillon Ward is wrapping up the season with the Colorado Mammoth, so he’ll miss at least camp, potentially the first week of the season. Faceoff specialist Jake Withers is already on holdout, so he’s likely not going to be available until after the World Championships. Last year, the Waterdogs made it work with Zac Tucci facing off, and drafted James Reilly as more help for the faceoff spot. But the old adage is that great pro teams are built through the middle. Great in goal, great facing off, and great at X. Two of those three are going to be backups to start the year.
BEST CASE SCENARIO
Even without Ward and Withers, the Waterdogs pick up right where they left off. Tucci and Reilly push each other in camp, with the winner emerging among the top tier of faceoff specialists in the PLL. The full faceoff unit including Currier and Rees create quick offense consistently, finding plenty of two point opportunities for Carraway in scramble situations. McConvey’s skills allow him to fill whatever gap shows up, and he plays Rookie of the Year level lacrosse as a plug and play positionless weapon. Jack Hannah spins his excellent indoor season into a dynamite outdoor season, while Ryan Conrad continues to be an every week player who brings toughness and dodging to the offense. Clicking on all cylinders early, the Waterdogs cruise to a one seed.
WORST CASE SCENARIO
Sowers picks up another injury that causes him to miss time, and questions grow about his durability as the Waterdogs have to quickly adjust at the QB position. Mikie Schlosser takes longer than expected to return from his knee injury, leaving a gap in the midfield position that McConvey can’t quite fill early in the year. Tucci regresses while Reilly struggles with the adjustment to the PLL, and even with Rees and Currier on wings, the Waterdogs struggle to win possession due to a faceoff disadvantage. The Waterdogs have a losing record during the time when Ward and Withers are gone, and the slow start has them sputter toward the postseason while they miss out on a top four finish.