2021 PLL Goalie Analysis - A Look at Each Team's Keepers + The Best Free Agents | Lax Goalie Rat

2021 PLL Goalie Analysis – A Look at Each Team’s Keepers + The Best Free Agents

With the PLL scheduled to start next month in June, I wanted to take a look at each team’s goalies and give my thoughts.

Let’s get one thing clear. There is an absurd amount of goalie talent out there.

With just 8 professional teams and assuming each team carries a starter and a backup that means we’re trying to whittle it down the top 16 goalies in the world. Tough task.

Will any team carry 3 goalies? Remains to be seen, but I’m gonna say no.

In this post we’ll have a look at each team’s goalies in the Premier Lacrosse League and provide some feedback and predictions.

Chrome Lacrosse Club

John Galloway

John Galloway is an absolute goalie legend. I love watching him play so much and I hope he has another great year left in him.

I’m not sure at what age lacrosse goalies start fading but for John Galloway’s sake and for my sake let’s hope that age is not 32.

Last season Galloway saved just 54% of the shots. While save percentage never tells the full story, it was 7th best in the 7 team league.

If Galloway does indeed give it another go and plays at the level he’s capable of, I think that leaves Sean Sconone and Tate Boyce to fight it out for the backup role.

Galloway also brings that “head coach” type leadership you want in a goalie. He’s currently the head coach at Jacksonville.

Listen to my podcast with John Galloway

Sean Sconone

Sconone is an interesting story.

Here’s a list of goalies who have won multiple Goalie of the Year awards in professional lacrosse:

Pretty impressive company. And you can see why he was the first goalie selected (2nd round) in the PLL Entry draft.

Coming off back-to-back GoY over in the MLL Sconone has to be playing with a lot of confidence and it will interesting to see if he challenges Galloway for the starting the spot.

When I spoke with Sconone for my podcast, I asked him what his goal was. Without pause, he said play for Team USA so you know this UMass product has his sights set high.

Listen to my podcast with Sean Sconone

Tate Boyce

Tate Boyce is a friend of the program.

He gave this awesome presentation at the Lacrosse Goalie Summit 2 – Succeeding as a Collegiate Goalie. I know he also has helped out at the Goaliesmith live camps and crushes it as a coach.

Boyce was a 4 year starter at Providence and finished his senior season in 2019 as the Big East leader in both save percentage and saves per game.

Boyce was signed to the expansion Waterdogs LC prior to the 2020 PLL Championship Series so he does have some experience already chopping it up with the PLL guys.

The thing I’m most interested in following on the Chrome is who will be the backup. I think a team is only going to carry 2 goalies max. I’m rooting for Tate.

Listen to my podcast with Tate Boyce

If I had to make a prediction – Galloway starts, Sconone backup.

Archers LC

Adam Ghitelman

Ghitelman is in my top 5 of all time favorite goalies. I’m only 5’8″ myself so any time a shorter goalie can dominate with his quickness and out of crease play I’m all in.

Last season the Archers did something rare for any high level lacrosse team and split time with their keepers.

Ghitelman would play the first half and then Drew Adams would come in and close out the game in the 2nd half.

The strategy worked. The Archers’ defense had the lowest goals-against average, only letting in 10.4 goals per game. Ghitelman himself saved 58% of shots thrown his way in the 2020 season. That was 4th best in the league.

It’s a good one-two punch because of these 2 goalies differences in styles. Ghitelman being a short, quick righty and Adams being a tall, lengthy lefty.

If ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I see the Archers rolling with this 2 goalie setup once again this year.

Also with the exception of Rabil, is there a more entrepreneurial minded professional lacrosse player than Adam Ghitelman?

Ghits is a creator or the co-creator of:

  • Give & Go Foundation – a nonprofit company with the goal of spreading lacrosse throughout the world
  • LaxFilmStudy.com – a membership site filled with lacrosse film study meant to up your lax IQ
  • Re-Lax Sports  – a lacrosse equipment company committed to creating high-performance lacrosse products using 100% eco-friendly materials to aid environmental conservation.

He also works as an Assistant Coach for the University of Utah.

Listen to my interview with Adam Ghitelman

Drew Adams

Drew Adams has had a long and successful career defending the nets.

Adams graduated from Penn State in 2009 (12 years ago) and played in the MLL before moving over to the PLL in 2019 for the inaugural season.

There is no doubt Adams is one of the greats. 3x Goalie of the Year in the MLL (see that elite list above with Sconone) and 4-time All Star. He strapped it up for Team USA in 2014 World Games.

Will be exciting to watch Adams defend the cage for the Archers again this year. He’s 34 so let’s hope he’s got another year left in him.

Listen to my podcast with Drew Adams

Nick Washuta

In all honesty, I don’t actually know too much about Nick Washuta other than looking at his accolades while at Vermont:

  • America East First Team All-Conference (2019)
  • USILA Honorable Mention All-American (2018)
  • Inside Lacrosse Third Team All-American (2018)
  • Inside Lacrosse Midseason Second Team All-American (2018)
  • America East Second Team All-Conference (2018)

After graduating from Vermont, the Denver Outlaws selected Washuta 11th overall in the MLL draft. During the Outlaws 2020 run to the finals in the MLL bubble Washuta backed up Christian Knight.

The question is – can Washuta earn a spot over the goalies who have been with the Archers in their initial 2 seasons?

Like I said, I don’t know much about Washuta (need to get him on the podcast) but dethroning the reigning goalies is always a tough feat.

My prediction is Ghitelman and Adams continue like last year.

Atlas LC

Jack Concannon

Has any goalie gotten better in the jump from college to the pros than Jack Concannon?

I’m not saying he was bad at Hostra, he was great (3rd team All-American). What I am saying is this – he’s dominating now.

Since earning the starting job in the league inaugural year Concannon capitalized on his opportunity. Being named as a finalist for the Oren Lyons Goalie of the Year.

Concannon was additionally named to the PLL All Star Team and won the game’s prestigious MVP Award.

He’s a big guy at 6’3″ and 210lbs and yet his explosion and quickness to the ball is perhaps the best in the league.

I see Concannon starting again for the Atlas and having another monster year.

Listen to my podcast with Jack Concannon

JD Colarusso

Last season JD was an emergency backup goalie (EBUG?) in the PLL.

During the training camps last season, he spent a little time with each team hoping into drills or taking shots after practice.

This allowed the different head coaches to get to know JD and now he finds himself with a roster spot and the backup position on the Atlas.

Before the PLL, JD starred at the University of Albany winning goalie of the year in 2018 and filling the shoes of another great PLL Albany goalie – Blaze Riorden.

JD also played with the Dallas Rattlers of the MLL before making his way to the PLL.

As I mentioned with Ghitelman, I’m a fan of shorter keepers and Colarusso is 5’8″ which should provide a very interesting contrast to Concannon’s body type.

Podcast with JD Colarusso

Sam Lucchesi

The original version of this article totally missed Sam Lucchesi. He’s a goalie I slept on but I gotta admit I’ve never seen him play.

Out of Hobart and drafted in the 4th round by MLL Cheasepeake Bayhawks. And has I’ve mentioned, any goalie with pro experience we know they can hold their own.

I doubt any team carries 3 goalies so it looks like they brought in Lucchesi to battle for the backup role with JD Colarusso.

Prediction on this one – Concannon starts, Colarusso backup.

Cannons LC

Jacob Stover

Jacob Stover already has 2 PLL championship rings as he backed up Bernlohr with the Whipsnakes for the past 2 seasons.

He’s now made the move to the brand new Cannons LC and is looking to earn himself a starting role.

He’s got the talent. Former Patriot League GoY at Loyola and Honorable Mention All-American from Inside Lacrosse.

More importantly he’s got the right attitude. Something his Dad (NFL kicker Matt Stover) passed down to him in addition to athleticism are mental toughness lessons that are critical for lacrosse goalies and NFL kickers alike.

He’s just one example of why you want Stover on your team:

Listen to my interview with Jacob Stover

Nick Marrocco

Nick Marrocco was the starting goalie for the 2020 MLL champion Boston Cannons.

Marrocco, along with Sean Sconone, were the only two goalies selected in the PLL expansion draft for the MLL players.

Here is Kyle Devitte’s breakdown of Marrocco’s game:

A team drafting Marrocco gets a pure shot-stopper with a modern hybrid style that fits perfectly into the pro game. They’re also getting a goalkeeper that is entering his prime with the experience and the ability to match current PLL starters.

Coach Sean Quirk led the MLL Boston Cannons to the 2020 title and now returns as head coach for the PLL Cannons. Anytime a head coach wants to reunite with the same goalie you know that goalie has something special.

Listen to my interview with Nick Marrocco

Prediction – This goalie battle for the starting role is probably the closest out of any team. I’m going to give the nod to Stover.

Chaos LC

Blaze Riorden

Safe to say the Chaos are set at the position of goalie.

To start with, you’ve got back-to-back PLL Goalie of the Year (Oren Lyons Award) winner Blaze Riorden starting.

Blaze has been incredible. He led the league in save percentage in 2019 and then was 2nd at 61% in 2020.

When the PLL first introduced its new rules I thought goalie save percentages were going to tank. But at 61% that’s higher than the college guys, which is crazy.

During the 2020 PLL Championship Series, Riorden’s play elevated Chaos from an atrocious 0-4 group play record all the way to the Championship Game.

Riorden had a league-high 119 saves during the Championship Series and was subsequently awarded his second Oren Lyons Goalie of the Tournament award.

I don’t see any changes in goal for the Chaos – back to back Oren Lyons winner Blaze Riorden will start.

Listen to my podcast with Blaze Riorden

Dillon Ward

And then of course, backing up one of the best, you’ve got another “one of the best” in the world and goalie for Team Canada in the past 3 World Championships Dillon Ward.

I was actually surprised another team didn’t put together a simple trade package to pickup Dillon Ward. I think he’s a game changer.

Watch this save edit from the 2014 World Championships:

He’s won a world championship with Canada. He knows how to play at the highest level in the big games. That’s a goalie you want on your team.

Plus you’d get this absolute fire Instagram humor:

 

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Edit: That Instagram humor was too much to pass up. Literally the day after I published this blog post.

 

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Great move by the Waterdogs! Now that means the Chaos have 1 goalie. Who will they pickup?

Edit: The answer is Austin Kaut.

 

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Redwoods LC

Tim Troutner

Tim Troutner surprised the league when he came in as a rookie and instantly had success.

I mean one week he’s defending the nets for High Point and the next week he’s taking shots from the best in the world and making save after save. Pretty crazy.

He made the All-Star team, won the Goalie saves competition and was voted 2019 Rookie of the Year in the league’s first year. Not a bad rookie year!

Although he did regress a little in 2020 posting a 57% save percentage – 6th in the 7 team league – Troutner did lead his Redwoods club all the way to the semifinals.

But Troutner is definitely hoping to have another monster season for the Redwoods. As the 2 year starter, it’s his job to lose.

Listen to my podcast with Tim Troutner

According to the PLL website, in his free time, Troutner enjoys eating large amounts of chicken nuggets and watching his favorite movie, Catch Me If You Can. So you know he’s a solid guy.

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly used to be a top 10 favorite goalie for me. Then I interviewed him for my podcast. Now he is solid Top 3.

I did another interview with sports psychologist, lacrosse goalie coach, and friend of the program Chris Buck and he told me: “Oh you gotta interview Jack Kelly. This guy is the real deal”.

After chatting with Jack, indeed he is his the real deal. Such an authentic and awesome guy. Plus an absolute stud of a goalie. Who remembers the run Brown went on when Kelly was manning the cage?

He’s also got the accolades:

  • Gold medal with Team USA in 2018
  • C. Markland Kelly Award for Top Collegiate Goalie 2016
  • Helped Brown to memorable final four run in 2016 when he led the country in saves (223) and save percentage (60.6)
  • Holds Brown career record with 673 saves
  • MLL Goaltender of the Year (2017)
  • MLL Rookie of the Year (2016)
  • All-MLL (2017)
  • MLL Championship with Denver in 2016

In the World Championships Jack hurt his knee and has been on the recovery path for the last few years. Even though he was injured in Israel that did not stop him from being a team leader –

The starting goalie of that 2018 World Championship team John Galloway also confirmed what a solid guy, leader, and goalie Jack Kelly is. He’s the real deal.

He was on the Redwoods initial roster but has yet to suit up for a PLL game. I see Jack on the Redwood’s roster right now and that gets me pumped up.

I’m not really sure what the status of his knee is or his goalie game in general but I’ll tell you this – I’m rooting for Jack to return to the top level of play. If he does, my prediction is he takes over the starting role for the Redwoods.

He’s just 26 years old so he’s got a lot of good years ahead of him.

Listen to my podcast with Jack Kelly

Brian Phipps

Brian Phipps is also a friend of the program.

In the last Lacrosse Goalie Summit, Phipps presented an awesome session – Goalie Island: Drills to Do All Alone

There’s no question Phipps can ball. After a successful career at Maryland, Phipps has shown he can play at the highest levels.

Last season he was starter for the Cheasapeake Bayhawks and also a finalist for MLL goalie of the year.

The Redwoods roster of goalies is stacked deep with talent.

Let’s assume they only carry 2 goalies and Kelly is back to 100% – Troutner, Kelly, and Phipps – that’s an elite goalie lineup and if one of them eventually doesn’t make the team, I think another team would scoop them up.

Listen to my podcast interview with Brian Phipps

This one is such a tough prediction since I don’t know Kelly’s health status. Let’s assume he is 100% tho. Prediction: Troutner and Kelly make the team with Kelly taking over the starter role mid season.

Waterdogs LC

Charlie Cipriano

Last season Charlie Cipriano earned the starting role for the Waterdog’s very first season in the PLL.

Cipriano attended Fairfield before manning the nets for an assortment of MLL teams. He eventually earned a starting role with the Charlotte Hounds.

Andy Copelan is the head coach of the PLL Waterdogs and was also the head coach of Fairfield back when Cipriano started. So when it was time to select a goalie in the expansion draft, he knew exactly what he was getting with Charlie Cipriano. The Waterdogs snatched Cipriano from the Chaos.

At times the Waterdogs looked rough on D. All other PLL teams had a year to gel and get to know one another and at times it showed for the Waterdogs on defense.

Cipriano saved only 48% of the shots fired his way, last in the league. Then unfortunately he got injured. Can Cip regain his top form he once had?

Listen to my interview with Charlie Cipriano

Matt Deluca

In the Lacrosse Goalie Summit 3 – Matt Deluca broke down his wide base stance and gave tips to the young goalies who want to replicate his style.

One thing that was blatantly clear was this young buck’s passion for the sport of lacrosse and the goalie position. It radiated.

Anyone that has that level of passion for the game typically has success. I know Deluca will be great.

It’s hard to enter professional lacrosse as a goalie and have immediate success. Deluca got his first taste of pro lacrosse action when he filled in for the injured Cipriano last season and he did pretty well. Posting a 59% save percentage in 5 games but he also looked like a rookie at times.

At 6’6″ Deluca is the tallest goalie in the league and that height allows him to play a wide base style that is very unique. Like baseball pitchers, funkiness can be a good thing for a goalie to confuse the shooters.

Listen to my interview with Matt Deluca

Here’s my prediction for the Waterdogs. Deluca earns the starting role, Cip backs up.

Edit: The Waterdogs put together a trade package for Dillon Ward. Good move. New prediction: Ward starts, Deluca backup.

Whipsnakes LC

Kyle Bernlohr

According to their team site, the Whipsnakes only have one goalie on the roster.

Lucky for them that goalie is Kyle Bernlohr.

Bernlohr’s resume is impressive. National championship at Maryland and back-to-back titles with the Whipsnakes.

He led the entire PLL in save percentage last year at 61% and was a finalist for the Oren Lyons goalie of the year award.

Bernlohr gave an amazing presentation at the Lacrosse Goalie Summit 3 called: Building the Complete Lacrosse Goalie (as told through clinic format). This really gave me (and the viewers) a taste of the elite level training Bernlohr puts himself (and his goalie students) through.

The Whipsnakes are going to be fine at goalie as long as Bernlohr is healthy. Bernlohr will definitely be another candidate for goalie of the year in 2021.

But they will need to pickup a backup goalie at some point before the season starts. Which leads me to to my next section…

Listen to my interview with Kyle Bernlohr

Edit: The Whipsnakes picked up Alex Ready from the player pool.

Best Goalie Free Agents

While I think the merger of the PLL and the MLL is ultimately good for the sport, it did cut the number of starting professional goalie jobs in half.

So it’s pretty insane to see some of the goalie talent that are still out there as free agents.

In no particular order, here are some of the top goalie free agents out there.

Am I missing anyone? Let me know down below in the comments.

Niko Amato

Let me list a few of Niko’s accolades:

  • 4 year starter at Maryland
  • 2014 C. Markland Kelly Award winner for Goalie of the Year
  • 2018 MLL Goalie of the Year
  • 2019 MLL Champ with the Bayhawks

Goalie of the year at both the college and pro levels. Safe to say Niko deserves a shot.

Listen to my interview with Niko Amato

Scott Rodgers

At the age of 34, its possible Rodgers best ball stopping days are behind him. But what is still very much apart of his game is the leadership.

It’s not often that a backup goalie is a team captain but that was the case when Rodgers strapped it on for the Atlas. That just speaks to the leadership abilities that this 6’4″ goalie behemoth gives you.

I’ve never played with Scotty but from what I know about him he’s definitely a guy I want on my team.

If you’re a club with only 2 goalies (or 1 goalie) on the roster, why not bring in the Big Rig and let him compete for a spot?

Listen to my interview with Scotty Rodgers

Austin Kaut

Truth be told I don’t know much about Austin Kaut. I watched him a little in the MLL and I know he can ball.

He’s part of the Philly bred group of goalies – Doc Daugherty, Niko, Drew Adams and he’s got the flow. Or the Phlow, better said.

Been trying to get him on the podcast for a long time but just haven’t been successful.

Edit: Apparently the Chaos know more about Kaut than I. They picked him since they were in need of a backup goalie after trading away Dillon Ward to the Waterdogs.

 

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Brett Queener

So does anyone else watch Brett Queener highlights on repeat?

Or this one.

Queener played for the PLL Chrome in the previous 2 seasons. At 36 years old he’s getting up there in age. He started before Blaze Riorden at Albany.

By the way, if Queener makes the pros is there another 3 starters goalie run at a University where all 3 goalies are in the pros at the same time – Queener, Riorden, Colarusso. Perhaps a run of Maryland goalies?

We know Queener is still interested in playing, he said so himself:

Listen to my interview with Brett Queener

Alex Ready

Along with JD Colarusso, Alex Ready was another emergency backup goalie last year. Meaning he’s taken reps with the PLL teams and can play at the highest level.

He laced it up with the Chrome in the past seasons so he’e even got that PLL game experience.

In addition to being a great goalie, Ready is an awesome goalie coach. At the original Lacrosse Goalie Summit in July 2020 he gave a full masterclass in how to coach a goalie – My Approach to Goalie Coaching.

Listen to my interview with Alex Ready

Edit: The Whipsnakes picked up Alex Ready. So he’ll join Kyle Bernlohr and serve as the backup to the back to back Champs.

Evan Molloy

First of all, if you’re not listening to Evan Molloy and Nick Ossello’s podcast the Post Game Podcast, are you even a fan of lacrosse?

Well, maybe I’ll give you a pass if you’re a youth goalie since Ossello likes to drop the phrase “got their d**ks kicked in” at least 3 times an episode.

Evan Molloy was all set to suit up for the Ohio Machine before they went under so he’s got professional talent.

But for some reason, he’s been blackballed from the player pool in the PLL. Still yet to know why but #draftmolloy is still in full effect.

Listen to my interview with Evan Molloy

Dom Madonna

After Evan Molloy graduated Dom Madonna took over the starting role at Cuse. Last season he was with the MLL champion Boston Cannons and earned himself a ring:

He backed up Marrocco in the final game but got some playing time throughout the season and did really well so we know he’s got the ability to save world class shots.

Madonna gave an awesome presentation at the Lacrosse Goalie Summit 3 titled “Using Film to Improve Your Goalie Game“.

Listen to my interview with Dom Madonna

Ronnie Fernando

Ronnie’s story is really incredible. From the MCLA all the way to the pros. He’s constantly working his tail off to improve his goalie game and that has payed off in the form of MLL goalie experience with a variety of teams.

He’s also a great friend of the program. Presenting in not one but two Lacrosse Goalie Summits:

I put the 1st one up on YouTube:

Listen to my interview with Ronnie Fernando

Chris Madalon

Like many other goalies on this free agent list, Madalon has experience at the professional level. He’s played 4 years in the MLL with the Blaze and the Barrage.

I’ve never spoken with Chris, but I imagine this North Carolina goalie is itching to get a crack with a PLL team.

Mike Adler

Adler is the starting goalie at Duke so I guess he’s technically not a free agent yet. However he’s scheduled to graduate this year and would become a free agent.

Out of all the college goalies set to graduate this year, Adler is the one I’d pick for my team.

He gives me those Kip Turner vibes and I like it.

Plus this save yo…

Listen to my interview with Mike Adler

Drake Porter

Like Adler, Porter is finishing up school at Syracuse so he’s not technically a free agent yet. Does Porter have what it takes to make a PLL roster?

Lots of people put Porter as their best goalie in college right now.

He’s a good goalie and an awesome dude but I personally can’t get behind his style of play.

I’m not talking about his uniform style. Porter has got the best look in college lacrosse and its not even close.

I’m talking about that top hand position with the elbow and wrist cocked. Just seems so stiff and awkward for me. But hey, he makes it work. He also relies a lot on his hand quickness to make saves. I don’t think we’ll see Porter on a PLL roster this year.

Listen to my interview with Drake Porter

Conclusion

There we go. A full breakdown of the current PLL rosters and their goalies.

Like I said, with just 8 teams in the league it’s super tough for a goalie to make a team.

There’s just 16 spots (assuming nobody carries 3 goalies) and you’re competing against some amazing talent.

One thing is for sure – I can’t wait to watch and follow some of these goalie battles.

Will also be interesting to see if any goalies on my free agent list are given a shot to compete and make a team.

Until next time!
Coach Damon

Free Ship

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