2022 Regular Season Record: 9-1
Final Result: Lost to Waterdogs in Semifinals
Sam Cambere, D/LSM
Tucker Dordevic, M
Elijah Gash, D
Petey LaSalla, FO
Garrett Leadmon, M
Will Manny, A
Jay Carlson, A
Justin Guterding, M
Bryan Cole, M
The Whips, once again, were a heavyweight contender in 2022. They went 9-1 in the regular season. They played five games decided by just one goal, and won four of them. The close game has been part of the Whips story for years. They ended up on the wrong side of one in the semifinals, falling to the eventual champ Waterdogs. 2022 was the first season in which the Whips didn’t play for a Championship.
In the offseason, Head Coach/GM Jim Stagnitta said he was looking to add dynamic dodging threats. There was a need to take pressure off of players like Matt Rambo, Zed Williams, and Brad Smith to create the offense. It’s hard to say they didn’t address this need with two major moves. First, they took Tucker Dordevic in the first round of the draft. Dordevic, in terms of explosiveness and ability to separate off the dodge, was unparalleled in the draft. He will walk onto a field ready to win off the dodge against PLL poles. Next, Will Manny came over in free agency. Manny is an elite lefty shooter, with a release as fast as anyone’s in the sport. The nature of the Archers offense and personnel didn’t ask him to dodge often, but don’t think that means he can’t. Manny would effectively be the 4th or even 5th dodging threat on the Whips, and he’ll beat the 5th defender in the PLL.
The Whips biggest question will be at the faceoff spot. Joe Nardella is still working his way back from a knee injury, and while it doesn’t look like he’ll miss the entire summer, he’ll definitely be out for a good chunk of it. Drafting Petey LaSalla was the perfect move to fill the gap. But faceoff has proved to be the most difficult position to adapt to when players move from college to pro. The recent changes to faceoff rules reduce the impact of the faceoff win, while also making players like Nardella and LaSalla who are offensively skilled more valuable. The LaSalla pick was made that much better. But possession will be critical. Elsewhere, the Whips are still looking like heavyweights. Zed Williams will be busy with the Mammoth to start the year, but with the other offensive additions, that impact should be alleviated. The only other callout is that this team isn’t getting any younger at this point. Jake Bernhardt is 33 years old. Mike Chanenchuk is coming up on ten years in the pros, as is Michael Ehrhardt. Sam Cambere and Elijah Gash may be the defenders of the future for this team.
BEST CASE SCENARIO
Best case is the usual case. The Whips outstanding defense plays like the great unit it is. Michael Ehrhardt’s reign over everything between the two point arcs continues, and he continues to punish teams that sub poorly or play transition incorrectly. Matt Rambo and Zed Williams combine to overpower defenses that can’t handle them physically. Tucker Dordevic gives the Whips exactly what they need, and draws the pole from Day 1, freeing up a shorty for Brad Smith or forcing teams to double pole the midfield. Garrett Leadmon becomes the second coming of Connor Kirst as a two way player who does his job at an above average level every week. Petey LaSalla is a top tier stand in for Joe Nardella, who returns ahead of schedule to form one of the best faceoff duos in lacrosse.
WORST CASE SCENARIO:
Dordevic isn’t quite able to shake the PLL level poles, and is inconsistent against the opposing teams top short stick. As a result, the pressure on Rambo, Zed, and Smith to create isn’t alleviated, and teams can key on them while being slow to slide everywhere else. LaSalla struggles to adjust to the PLL, and Nardella’s injury does in fact force him to miss the entire summer. The defense begins to show it’s age, and Gash, while the best athlete out there, isn’t polished enough yet as a defenseman to consistently win a matchup. The Whips finish in the middle of the pack as they end up on the wrong side of one goal games instead of the right side.