Updated: Sep 13
2023 Record: 6-4, 4th in the PLL, lost in Semifinals
2024 Draft Picks: 5th overall, 13th overall, 21st overall, 29th overall
Offensive Efficiency: 25.7%, 6th in PLL
Defensive Efficiency: 27.3%, 6th in PLL
Pending Free Agents:
Clarke Petterson (Holdout List)
Ryan Tierney (Holdout List)
The Redwoods were a roller coaster. They won three of their first four games, beating Atlas, Waterdogs, and Chaos. Then they played Archers in Fairfield, managed just three goals, and it sent them spiraling. It was the first of three straight losses, with two of them being fairly ugly final scorelines. When the league started the west coast swing, the Woods were under .500 and on life support. But they ended the regular season on a three game winning streak, beating the Cannons in Denver, Chrome in Seattle, and Atlas in Utah. They dismantled the Chaos in the quarterfinals. But the Archers thoroughly blew them out in the semifinals in a game that felt very similar to the beating in Fairfield.
Redwoods personnel had ups and downs too. Myles Jones and Sergio Perkovic were every week players to start the year, but their production was next to zero, forcing the Redwoods to ultimately trades Jones to Atlas and bench Perkovic completely. The Redwoods offensive personnel had a total of 162 points this year (including all of Romar Dennis’s points from both Atlas and Woods). 93 of those came from three players, their starting attack of Ryder Garnsey, Rob Pannell, and Ryder Garnsey. Midfield production was week to week, sometimes great, sometimes non existent.
Despite struggling with consistency, the Redwoods finished top four and will head to the Championship Series. Ryder Garnsey and Rob Pannell had excellent seasons, but the brightest spot on the Redwoods was rookie Cole Kirst. The 3rd round draft pick was inserted into the lineup as the Woods hunted for consistent midfield production, and he delivered. He lead the team in points from the position despite playing in seven games while most others played 10. His positivity was infectious, and he won Teammate of the Year. As the Woods wrap up 2023, they can feel very good about their 3rd round pick and his future in the PLL.
Midfield feels the most obvious. With a free agent list that long, surely there is potential for the Redwoods to look very different. John Grant Jr became the offensive coordinator this year. If the Woods decide to try and incorporate more indoor concepts and scheme into their offense, they may look for more players with indoor backgrounds. The Redwoods have always liked having big midfielders and physical dodgers, Kirst fits the bill there, a few more who have indoor backgrounds and are better off ball could help get this offense where it needs to go.
Elsewhere on the field, as with most teams, retirements will be a factor. Pannell has said if he returns next year, it’ll be in a Redwoods uniform. He’s the oldest player on the Woods by a few years. Wes Berg will be entering year 10, Eddy Glazener year 9, and Garrett Epple year 8. Epple just won Defensive Player of the Year, he clearly is still an impact player. The Woods drafted Owen Grant last year who, in limited action, showed that he’s a star in the making. Defensive youth behind their current close defense unit is something to have in mind.
Off ball weapons are also still a need. Berg is maybe the best in the business at it, but more players who can be dangerous, from the midfield in particular, without the ball can help this team. They have a wealth of dodgers, and too many dodgers on the field at once can end with too much hero ball.
That’s a long list. The Woods only have eight players on deals that don’t expire this year. But that eight is a solid core group: Wes Berg, Arden Cohen, Zach Cole, Owen Grant, TD Ierlan, Cole Kirst, Nakeie Montgomery, and Brian Tevlin. There are some obvious names that will be retained. Pannell and Garnsey have said publicly they have no intention of playing for another team. Garnsey will sign a new deal with the Woods, Pannell as well should he bring it back for another season (it will be his 13th). Charlie Bertrand should be a priority signing as a big middie who can play off ball and knows indoor play well. The interesting question will be around a player like Sergio Perkovic, who had his worst pro season in a contract year. Coach St Laurent loves his guys and his locker room, Perkovic is part of that, but can he justify a new deal and a roster spot for him and just hope for a bounce back?
If the Redwoods do try and lean harder into box concepts, they may try and raid the Chaos free agent list. Ian Mackay, Ryan Smith, and Chris Cloutier should all get a call from Junior this offseason.
Like free agency, the approach to the draft likely is dictated by whether or not the Woods try and change their philosophy on offense. Midfield will be a priority. While not a big body, Jake Stevens could be an excellent fit for this team as a scorer and off ball player. He fills the stat sheet with goals, ground balls, and caused turnovers, the type of gritty midfielder that this team needs. Loyola’s Adam Poitras is also a player who could be a fit for this group as a scorer off ball who’s physical and extremely skilled.
If they go to the defensive end, they clearly like defenders who can be physical and win leverage battles, and have excellent footwork. Owen Grant can play down low for this team, so if they add pole depth, they don’t need to be concerned with it being a true LSM or close defender. Cole Kastner, Jackson Bonitz, and Marcus Hudgins could all fit well.