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What's Next: Atlas Lacrosse Club

2023 Record: 2-8, 7th in PLL, lost in Quarterfinals

2024 Draft Picks: 2nd overall, 10th overall, 18th overall, 24th overall

Offensive Efficiency: 27.8%, 6th in PLL

Defensive Efficiency: 37.1%, 8th in PLL

Pending Free Agents:

Dox Aitken

Grant Ammann

Mark Cockerton

Jack Concannon

Bryan Costabile

Peter Dearth

Tucker Durkin

John Geppert

Justin Guterding

Dylan Molloy

Marc O’Rourke

Drake Porter

Michael Rexrode

Jeff Teat

Season Recap:

It was a tumultuous ride for Atlas this year. They entered the season with billing as a title contender. The league MVP Trevor Baptiste was back at the faceoff spot to tilt the field, the attack of Jeff Teat, Chris Gray, and Eric Law was one of the best in the league, and they had the first and third overall picks in the college draft to address anything they saw as a position of need. New Head Coach and GM Mike Pressler took over after Ben Rubeor stepped down.

Pressler selected Gavin Adler as the first overall pick, and then Brett Makar as the third overall pick. They took Xander Dickson in the second round, then Payton Rezanka in the 3rd and Kyle Long in the 4th. Rezanka missed the year with a labrum he sustained at the end of the college season, and Long was cut after training camp. Dickson had an excellent season, a perfect fit as an off ball threat playing with distributors and dodgers like Chris Gray and Jeff Teat.

The defensive side of the ball, particularly in transition was a major story of the season. Teams shot 44% against the Atlas in transition, and they surrendered 31 goals, leading to a 40% defensive efficiency in unsettleds that was the worst in the league. Compounding that problem their efficiency in the 32 second clock was very poor, and teams capitalized on that to create transition off turnovers, throwing fuel on an Atlas fire. They never really were able to sort through all that get to a place where they fixed either end of that problem, and as a result, they struggled mightily, surrendering 14 goals per game.

The Needs:

Pressler spent the first and third overall pick on defenders, so it’s strange to think they would have needs on the defensive side of the ball. But some of the roster moves that followed those draft picks may have actually created a need on defense. The release of Cade Van Raaphorst and Craig Chick meant the release of the team’s best help defender and the top LSM when it comes to CTs and winning possession between the lines. Van Raaphorst and Chick are both free agents to be, but it doesn’t really track that they’d be eager to sign back with the team that sent them to the player pool, particularly when Van Raaphorst is having a great year with the Cannons. Spending another draft pick on a defender who can play well off ball might be tough for Atlas fans to swallow, but when push comes to shove, that’s problem one.

Two way midfield is a need. The Atlas gave up so many transition goals because they consistently were beat in the sub game. Offensive minded midfielders made their way to the box rather than back on defense in some situations, and in the PLL, offenses will punish you for that. Bryan Costabile can play on both ends, and occasionally they could get away with Danny Logan playing on offense, but otherwise, the Atlas midfield personnel is all very specialized. They have their defenders and their offensive players, and almost nothing in between. Players that play both ends at a pro level in the PLL don’t really become available in free agency, the best get locked up by their teams on multi year deals. But this is where a player like Jake Stevens could make a big difference for them in the draft.

Goalie. The Atlas were the only team in the PLL with a team save percentage below 50% on the season. Shots on goal went in more often than they didn’t. Jack Concannon and Drake Porter are both free agents. When the market opens in March, it’ll become clear quickly what the Atlas plan is. They are the team that will most loudly be linked to Notre Dame’s Liam Entenmann as the draft gets closer.

Free Agency:

That’s a real big list for Atlas. Some are players who joined the club this year and played sparingly. Mark Cockerton appeared once, Grant Ammann didn’t play for the Atlas as a late season addition. Like all teams, the Atlas have obvious players to have at the top of the list. Bryan Costabile and Jeff Teat signing with new teams would be brutal losses for this club. It would either be a sign of an offensive teardown, or of players that just want to be somewhere else. Neither would be a ringing endorsement of Atlas leadership.

Dox Aitken didn’t play in 2023, but a return in 2024 would do wonders for this team, who need some more two way midfield depth. The SSDM core emerged as Logan, Comizio, and Richard this year, which means the Atlas could be ready to move on from Peter Dearth in free agency. He’s a capable pro who likely would find a new home elsewhere.

If he can be convinced this team is a winner and he could win a title here, Jesse Bernhardt would do wonders for this team, even just for a year or two. Matt McMahon would as well, but it’s not likely you can pull defenders who play for Tony Resch away from the Archers. Those players and staff are a great match.

The Draft:

Second overall pick is an interesting spot. Last year’s draft was one of the most talented defensive classes in recent memory, this year’s will be the offensive version. Depending on how free agency shakes out in March, that could be great news. They’ll reload with their choice of any number of offensive weapons. If they want an X attackman to succeed Eric Law, who is entering year 12, there will be multiple options to choose from, potentially including Connor Shellenberger and Pat Kavanagh. If they want to go defense again for an off ball defender, they’ll have their choice of poles. Tucker Durkin is entering year 12 and showed some signs of slowing down last year. Mason Woodward could step into this spot. Finally, Atlas could take no chances on netminder and take Liam Entenmann at the top of round one.. It would be as high as a goalie has ever gone, they almost never go in the first round. Given the goalie situation around the league it’s probably safe to wait for later rounds, but the PLL is never light on draft day curve balls.

Whatever happens, Pressler needs to get it right. There aren’t many one and done coaches in pro sports; new hires typically get a year or two to get the vision and culture in place. PLL is a lacrosse beast all its own, unlike even the highest level of college ball, so a learning curve is expected. But after the 2023 season, some Atlas fans are already clamoring for a coaching change, particularly after Steven Brooks excelled in the Championship Series. Another year of personnel moves that don’t work out would make those shouts even louder.


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