Waterdogs LC got in on the free agency fun as attackman Jake Carraway signed a two-year deal with the reigning champions.
After the retirement of Ryan Brown, the Waterdogs needed a fourth attackman. More specifically, they needed an off-ball shooter to complement their ball-carriers in Kieran McArdle and Michael Sowers. One look at Carraway’s résumé, and it’d be tough to find a candidate who fits the bill better.
An Annapolis, Maryland native, Carraway might’ve been raised in a lacrosse hotbed in Maryland, but he didn’t have the usual journey to the pros. He competed in mixed martial arts training alongside lacrosse from a young age.
“It’s been exponential for my growth and development as an athlete and as a person,” Carraway told writer Lauren Merola. “I started when I was four, the same exact age I picked up lacrosse. I think it’s given me bodily awareness like you see wrestlers or jiu-jitsu guys that kind of just have a strong sense of balance. That’s definitely helpful as an athlete playing lacrosse.”
Eventually Carraway’s focus narrowed in on lacrosse, leading him to an illustrious college career at Georgetown and the tenth overall pick in the 2021 PLL College Draft, but he credits much of his work ethic and humility to his experience in MMA.
Carraway buried 16 goals in his rookie season finishing in the top twenty of the league in scoring. But with the second overall pick in the college draft the next year, Atlas picked up Chris Gray to replace Carraway. Squeezed out of the lineup, it’s now full speed ahead to a new chapter in purple for the budding young star.
“Sometimes that’s just pro sports,” said Waterdogs head coach Andy Copelan. “When you’re the odd man out or you’re in a backup role, it just becomes a numbers thing and that’s when some of the best free agency moves take place.”
There’s a universal belief throughout all sports that sometimes all a player needs to reach their full potential is a change of scenery. With Brown’s retirement and Carraway’s contract with Atlas up, the stars seemed to align for just that.
“You get a really great player at a really great value,” Copelan remarked. “You give that individual a chance to reinvent themselves in a different locker room.”
On paper it’s easy to see how Carraway slots into this Waterdogs offense. He’s a righty off-ball shooter with a lot of range and a lot of power. He also has experience playing some midfield in his professional career, something Copelan finds incredibly valuable. However it’s not about checking off boxes for Copelan; he sees Carraway as a player who can really grow with the Waterdogs both on and off the field.
On the field, he hopes to see Carraway utilize his versatility more.
“I want him to continue to evolve as a dodger. If we ask him to play midfield I want to make sure he’s very comfortable in that role in front of the cage. He has really good instincts in terms of how he plays.”
As is the case with any good coach, Copelan has high hopes for Carraway off the field as well.
“He’s a confident dude, who’s a real competitor and plays with a little bit of an edge. Maybe sometimes early on in his career some of that stuff maybe got the best of him, but that’s just part of growing up,” he said.
“We’re pleased to give him a chance to reinvent himself here in a different color. It was never a question of ‘is Jake good enough?’ but more so just overall fit. He’s matured very nicely and has grown into an impressive young adult who’s very serious about his professional lacrosse career. I’m excited to see what the future holds here for him.”
Carraway connected with a number of Waterdogs in the days leading up to free agency.
“They all really exemplify the kind of locker room I want to be a part of,” he exclaimed. “It’s a team-first oriented group and after speaking to a few of them, you can tell it’s that kind of approach that led to their championship run and success.”
Carraway’s already quickly adopted the team-first mentality of the Dogs in preparation to help them go back-to-back.
“I really want to be a head down player and just do what I have to do to contribute and help these guys win a back-to-back championship. They’re pretty much returning everyone and I’m really lucky to get the nod to join this group. For me, my personal goal is to make this as seamless of a transition as possible. Any way I can help in going back-to-back is all that matters to me.”
With the past in the past, his excitement to join the pack is evident even over the phone.
“I’m just grateful for Coach Copelan and the Waterdogs for giving me an opportunity to compete for a spot again.”