“Competition brings out the best in people,” says Chaos LC’s Head Coach Andy Towers, which will foster an environment enabling players to be the best version of themselves. In an email to the team detailing expectations going into camp, he highlighted both the challenge and how excited he was to see everyone compete all week long.
What makes this training camp roster so special is the merging of the new and the old. The Chaos roster has plenty of current veterans riddled throughout the lineup who have had established professional lacrosse careers. They have Blaze Riorden (3x Oren Lyons Goalie of the Year and 2021 Jim Brown MVP), Dhane Smith, Josh Byrne, and their whole starting defense from their 2021 PLL Championship. The roster is already loaded with veteran talent at every position who have led the Chaos to success in past seasons, and most recently a 2022 PLL championship title game appearance.
Add on a loaded draft class with Will Bowen (2022 Schmeisser Award winner at Georgetown), Tye Kurtz (Delaware’s all-time leading point scorer), Brian Minicus (BIG EAST Second-Team Attackman), and Nick Rowlett (Michigan). Those four extremely capable rookies will all challenge for starting spots at camp.
Chaos also picked up four undrafted rookie free agents off the waiver wire who are equally capable of breaking into starting spots.
Now that the names who will be attending are all sorted out, here’s a breakdown of the battles that will be going on at nearly every position.
The Chaos will be returning all three members of their starting close defense from the 2021 championship season with Jarrod Neumann, Jack Rowlett, and the return of Johnny Surdick.
With the addition of Will Bowen there will be an intense battle to see who will be starting week one.
What the Chaos LC coaching staff looks for in their long pole defenders are players who can cover anywhere given the versatility of dodgers in the league. They also want people who can win their matchup and not get slid to. Both these characteristics lead into the identity that they have created on the defensive end where they want to rely on winning 1v1 matchups and forcing unassisted shots. In the 2021 semifinals, The Chaos famously beat the Atlas 15-9 by triple-poling the midfield highlighting their preference for poles who can cover all over the field. The proof is in the pudding and following this mantra will build a shutdown defense that wins in the playoffs.
Furthermore, the Chaos LC looks for long pole defenders who are proactive communicators, scoop up first-time ground balls, and are threats in transition. When in transition, it’s important to have the ability to spray it from beyond the two-point arc, but more importantly have the lacrosse IQ and skillset to make the right decision in transition.
Although Max Adler is returning to the Chaos this season, there are still lots of questions to be answered at the X. In 2022, the Chaos ranked 6th in the PLL in face-off win percentage (42.5%) and have brought in three new faces to create a battle in search of their answer. Whether that’s a new starter, tandem, or reliable backup the Chaos Lacrosse Club are looking for their guy to emerge at camp. Nick Rowlett (23rd overall selection), Demetri George (waiver wire), and Ashton Wood (waiver wire) are all extremely capable rookies who have had successful college careers and look to carry over their success to the PLL. Returner Jerry Ragonese will also be battling for a spot who should rely on his experience and familiarity with the club to earn a role. This will be a position to keep an eye on all week long as competition will be high.
On the offensive side of the ball, don’t get married to positions because the Chaos LC plays a position-less style of lacrosse. According to Towers, when making personnel decisions on who will play for the offense, they want to put out their best six guys. The number they are trying to get down to is eight players on game day, but maybe upwards of 10. The absolute max of offensive players that they want on the roster is 12, which would be accounted for on the 25-man roster. With plenty of good rookies, waiver wire signings, and returners in this group it will be interesting to see who fills out the roster.
There are currently six names that are a part of the core game days guys that the Chaos strongly believe in Josh Byrne, Chris Cloutier, Chase Fraser, Dhane Smith, Kyle Jackson, and Ryan Smith; that takes up six of the eight game day slots. Realistically there are four spots up for grabs and nine players fighting for them. Expect Tye Kurtz, TJ Malone, Brian Minicus, and Kevin Lindley to be the favorites to take over, but all are capable of grabbing a spot. Look out for Jakob Patterson and Evan Zinn (as a two-way midfielder) to be underrated names that could emerge.
Towers made it abundantly clear that they expect everyone to come into camp and fight tooth and nail for a spot and evaluating veteran knowns along with the body of work players put together at camp will help the coaches make their decisions.
One thing Towers made note of, given the level of competition, is that they want players to come in everyday and prove why they should be on the team. No rep off, no days off, and making sure that their presence is felt. In a hyper-competitive environment, which is the expectation going into camp, if a returner doesn’t show up to camp ready to go and a poor run of form continues through their Tuesday, May 30th scrimmage against the Whipsnakes LC, that could lead to some unpleasantries at the end of camp.