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A Maryland fan’s guide to the new Premier Lacrosse League

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With over two dozen Terps taking part, there’s a lot to be excited for in the league’s inaugural season.

Premier Lacrosse League

The Premier Lacrosse League kicks off its inaugural season on Saturday, and there are plenty of former Terps to go around.

Another professional lacrosse league, Major League Lacrosse (MLL), has been around since 2001 but didn’t pay players livable salaries and struggled to gain TV deals or national media attention, making the PLL the first of its kind. Three of MLL’s nine teams folded in April as a majority of the league’s best players moved over to the PLL. The new league is hoping to make lacrosse a more popular sport across the United States.

The PLL is sponsored by Adidas and has a multi-year broadcast agreement with NBC Sports, and games will be streamed on a variety of the network’s channels. Founded by lacrosse star Paul Rabil and his brother Mike, the league consists of six teams that will play tour style across the United States, with one leg in Canada as well.

The PLL is aimed at being player-first — players earn full-time wages and health benefits, and also receive an ownership stake in the league with equity compensation.

Meet the teams

Whipsnakes Lacrosse Club (aka Terps 2.0)

Coached by Jim Stagnitta, the Whipsnakes are basically the Terps reincarnated, as 20 former Maryland players are on the team.

There are seven players from the Terps’ 2017 national championship team, including Bryce Young (‘18), Connor Kelly (‘18), Dan Morris (‘18), Dylan Maltz (‘17), Matt Rambo (‘17), Tim Muller (‘17) and Tim Rotanz (‘18).

Also from the Tillman era are Brett Schmidt (‘11), Drew Snider (‘12), Jake Bernhardt (‘13), Kevin Cooper (‘13), Michael Ehrhardt (‘14), Mike Chanenchuk (‘14), Charlie Raffa (‘15), Jay Carlson (‘15), Joe Locascio (‘15), Kyle Bernlohr (‘16) and Matthew Dunn (‘16). Jeff Reynolds and Jeremy Sieverts, who both graduated in 2009, round out the Maryland players on the team.

With so many players used to playing together, and most under coach John Tillman’s system, the Whipsnakes come in with a huge advantage in terms of team chemistry. That showed in their preseason game against the Redwoods during training camp, which they won 14-10.

“We have guys that have all grown accustomed to a team first culture,” Kelly told PLL media. “Every team has talent but it’s the best TEAM that will prevail.”

In addition to the Terps on the team, the roster also features Yale Tewaaraton Award finalist Ben Reeves and First Team All-American Foster Huggins of Loyola, among others.

The Whipsnakes, whose motto is “strike without warning,” have their first game on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET against Chaos Lacrosse Club as the PLL begins its season in Boston.

Archers Lacrosse Club

Though the Archers are one of the few teams without a lot of college teammates, they feature a very strong offense and midfield core.

One of the best players on the team is midfielder Tom Schreiber, who went to Princeton and won multiple MVP awards in Major League Lacrosse — the sport’s other professional league. Also featured are attackman Marcus Holman, who went to UNC and is an MLL All-Star, and long-pole specialist Scott Ratlif, who won the 2012 NCAA championship with Loyola.

The club is full of selfless players, and it made teamwork and passing a clear priority over training camp.

The Archers’ weakness is their defense, which doesn’t have as much talent as some of the other PLL teams. To help out with that, Maryland defender Curtis Corley (‘19) signed with the club earlier this week. Terp defender Goran Murray (‘15) is also on the Archers.

Atlas Lacrosse Club

Atlas is sure to be an instant rival for the Whipsnakes, given that there are seven players from Johns Hopkins and three from UNC on the squad. The team is coached by former Michigan head coach John Paul.

Atlas features PLL founder and Johns Hopkins midfielder Paul Rabil, as well as sharpshooter Ryan Brown, who played at Hopkins and has been a star for Team USA. The club also has one of lacrosse’s best defenders in Tucker Durkin, who was the William C. Schmeisser Award winner in 2012 while playing for Johns Hopkins and a star in the MLL, as well as many other big-bodied defenders. Maryland alum Pat Young (‘16) is also on the squad.

With a team motto of “A force to be reckoned with” and a 15-11 preseason win against the Archers to prove it, Atlas is sure to be a dangerous team.

Chaos Lacrosse Club

Chaos, coached by Andy Towers, is sure to be one of the best transition teams in the league. The club is full of very fast players who handle the ball well and can score on the run.

Some of the best players on the team are midfielder Myles Jones, who was a three time All-American and two time Tewaaraton Award finalist at Duke (‘16), and attackman and Albany great Connor Fields (‘18), as well as attackman Josh Bryne.

Chaos won its preseason matchup against Chrome Lacrosse Club 19-12, showing just how easily it can score goals by the bunches.

The club also recently added a 2019 Terp graduate to the roster, signing faceoff specialist Austin Henningsen earlier this week.

Chrome Lacrosse Club

Chrome is chock-full of dominant ACC players, featuring nine Duke alums and five Syracuse products. This team is sure to have added chemistry as well, given that 11 played on the MLL Rattlers.

The club has a great goalie in John Galloway, who was named MLL’s Brine Goalie of the Year in 2018 and set the NCAA record for goalie wins at Syracuse (‘11). Other stars on the team are midfielder Joel White, who was a two-time Tewaaraton Award finalist at Syracuse (‘11) and attackman Jordan Wolf, who was a four time All-American and two-time NCAA Champion at Duke (‘14).

Though Chrome lost its preseason matchup, the team is coached by Dom Starsia, who certainly knows how to win after coaching Virginia to four NCAA championships.

Redwoods Lacrosse Club

Redwoods if full of lacrosse veterans with experience to back up their game. Having senior leadership will be the club’s edge.

Midfielder Joe Walters, 34, has been playing professional lacrosse since graduating from Maryland in 2006 and is a big scoring threat. Midfielder Kyle Harrison, 36, was a Tewaaraton Award winner at Johns Hopkins in 2005 and a two-time NCAA Midfielder of the Year, and has also continued to play professionally since then.

Though the Redwoods lost 14-10 to the Whipsnakes in the preseason, they clawed back from being down 10-2 and showed they have a lot of fight.

Schedule

The league starts in Boston at Gillette Stadium this weekend, with two games on Saturday and one Sunday. The tour comes to the DMV area twice, with games at Homewood Field in Baltimore on June 22-23, as well as games at Audi Field in Washington, D.C., on July 6-7.

An All-Star game will be played in Los Angeles on July 22. The first round of playoffs will take place on Sept. 6 and Sept. 7 in Columbus, Ohio, with the second round the following week in New York and the championship in Philadelphia on Sept. 21.

Here is the full detailed schedule.