Well, it was really Sowers who turned the corner on this play, but Jake Carraway set the screen. Before training camp even started, Copelan acknowledged that Carraway and Walker could spend some time in the midfield. This week, Carraway flourished in that role, and his presence was felt all over the field.
With four minutes left in the first half, the Waterdogs were up 5-1 when Copelan called a timeout to draw up a play.
“Give him [Sowers] an up pick here and let’s just play,” Copelan said. And then Sowers added, “Listen, let’s go with whoever is not [guarded by Ryan] Terefenko.”
Terefenko lined up on Sowers, who made his way to the bottom right of the arc. Carraway came down from the top and set a full-contact screen for Sowers, who curled up and around the defense. Spotting Walker cutting unmarked from the left wing, Sowers zipped him a lead pass for an easy finish. Once again, Sconone was lasered-in on Sowers, who gave up the shot opportunity for a slam-dunk goal.
Carraway took the Terefenko assignment by setting the screen, forcing the switch and giving Sowers time to scan the field. He knew he was drawing the best defender, essentially taking him out of the play. But in reality, the effort he put into that pick made that goal happen.
This play demonstrates Carraway’s assimilation to the Waterdogs’ selfless culture. That’s exactly what Copelan expected from him after their free agency discussions, and it’s something his teammates have come to appreciate.
“Not only is he on a new team, but he started out as an attackman and now he’s excelling as a middie. Making that transition is extremely hard, and just him being selfless… and then producing on top of that it’s pretty special to watch,” McArdle said. “I walked into the locker room and said to Mikey Sowers, ‘damn, Jake turned the corner. He’s really going to be big for us.’”
The team’s big free agent addition has hit his stride. Offensively, Carraway had his best game of the season with four points on three goals and 75% shooting, including a two-bomb in the first half that made it 5-0. He also scored a clutch power play goal with two minutes remaining, sinking the dagger in a one-possession game.
It was quick. Sowers got a pass back from McArdle at X and Will Haus completely abandoned Carraway on the left wing, so he cut hard. The pass was right on his stick head, and Carraway finished off the turf for the score.
All this success goes back to Copelan’s creative collaboration. Every time the microphone picks him up in the huddle, he’s asking the team for their set ideas and then steering them in the right direction. He’s built an inclusive environment of trust and chemistry all around.
And after moving to 3-1 on the season, Carraway said that Copelan’s game plan was the x-factor because of how seamlessly everyone bought in.
“I think it was just committing to the plan,” Carraway said. “Coming off the break, guys were just excited to get out here and play together as a group.”