Dillon Ward Adds to Already Impressive Resume with 2nd Pro Title in 90 Days

PHOTO COURTESY OF PREMIER LACROSSE LEAGUE

Dillon Ward won a PLL title on Sunday with the Waterdogs after winning an NLL title with Colorado.


For many Waterdogs players, becoming a professional lacrosse champion was a new feeling. For Dillon Ward, it was a bit more familiar.

“Ward is a champion. He wins at every level,” Waterdogs attackman Kieran McArdle said after the dust settled following an 11-9 Waterdogs win over the Chaos on Sunday. “I knew that he was going to step up. [Our defense] is a well-oiled machine. We rely on them a lot.”

For Ward, the Premier Lacrosse League title was his third professional lacrosse championship and second in 90 days. Earlier this summer, Ward and the Colorado Mammoth rallied from a one-game deficit to defeat the Buffalo Bandits in back-to-back games and capture the franchise’s second National Lacrosse League title.

Ward made a record 55 saves in the win and 135 saves during the three-game series. He earned NLL Finals MVP for his exploits.

Ward made 13 saves against the defending champion Chaos, including two pivotal saves in the final two minutes. He denied a 13-yard shot from Dhane Smith and then a Chris Cloutier attempt on the doorstep.

“In the simplest of terms, we went down early, but we never strayed from our gameplan,” Ward said. “We knew what we wanted to do from the get go and just continued to stick with it.”

While many pro lacrosse players play in both the NLL and PLL, it's rare to see a goaltender play both. Ignoring the obvious differences in net and equipment size, the playing style between each is also unique. Few have done it at the professional level, and until Ward captured his elusive first NLL championship in June, no goaltender had ever won both a professional box and professional field championship.

In addition to his professional accolades, Ward has also won three Minto Cups, a Mann Cup and world championships in both box and field lacrosse, becoming the first goalie to win MVP during Canada’s 8-5 victory over the U.S. in 2014.







Despite all of Ward’s success, he served as the backup goaltender to 2021 PLL MVP Blaze Riorden during his first year in the PLL in 2020. Just two seasons after being traded to the Waterdogs, Ward secured a championship against his former team.

“Andy Towers the person is really happy for Dillon Ward the person. This is a guy that couldn’t be humbler, couldn’t be more understated. He’s super talented and a great teammate,” said Chaos coach Andy Towers, who drafted Ward in the 2020 PLL Entry Draft. “Unfortunately, his success came at the expense of our team. I’m disappointed for our guys and everyone who was rooting for the Chaos today, but I’m happy for Dillon Ward the person.”

Ward’s path from NLL championship to PLL championship was not easy. After missing the first three weeks of the PLL season because the schedule overlapped with the NLL Finals, Ward returned for Week 4 as Matt DeLuca’s backup. Ward was re-inserted as the starter the following week, but during the Waterdogs’ 11-10 win over the Whipsnakes, he suffered a broken thumb that required surgery during the All-Star break. According to Inside Lacrosse, Ward had a pin inserted to prevent his thumb from bending during the duration of the regular season and wore a removable cast under his glove for added support. Despite the early adversity, Ward started every remaining game and posted a 59-percent save percentage during the postseason.

Josh Byrne, who also missed the first few games of the PLL season to play in the NLL Finals, discussed the challenge of competing for a professional championship in consecutive box and field seasons.

“Some of us have been playing since last June, especially some of us who were with the Bandits. You go from one PLL championship to another championship to another PLL season and another PLL championship and it takes a toll on you,” Byrne said.

Ward also touched on the difficulty of going from a seven-month NLL season immediately into a four-month PLL season, but he credited his coaches and teammates for helping him make the transition.

“It’s a grind, but this is the livelihood that I chose for myself,” Ward said. “It comes down to the preparation of the guys in our locker room, the belief from our coaches and going out and executing … We were stubborn with our game plan, we executed and we came out on top.”

Suggested

Most Recent

Behold the V-Hold: Learn a Pivotal Defensive Skill from PLL Pros

PLL pros drill down on what Garrett Epple calls ‘a defenseman’s greatest asset.’

NLL Announces Largest Schedule in League History

The NLL will play 135 regular season games during the 2022-23 season.

Dillon Ward Adds to Already Impressive Resume with 2nd Pro Title in 90 Days

Ward won a PLL title with the Waterdogs after winning an NLL title with Colorado.

Self Made: Waterdogs Defeat Chaos for PLL Championship

How the PLL's first expansion team captured the crown in just their third season.







Twitter Posts