PHOTO BY NAT LEDONNE / DUKE ATHLETICS

PLL Draft Recap: Possibly the Deepest Draft in Pro Lacrosse History


If for some reason you needed more proof of the absurd level of talent on the field every weekend this spring, look no further than last night’s Premier Lacrosse League College Draft.

The advent of the NCAA’s blanket eligibility waiver last spring in light of the COVID-19 pandemic created one of the most exciting college lacrosse seasons in recent memory. It also made this year’s draft class one of the deepest in pro lacrosse history — maybe even the deepest.

In a sign of the times, all 32 players selected were either fifth-year seniors or graduate students. 

Fourth-round picks like Syracuse’s leading scorer Stephen Rehfuss, fellow Orange captain Jamie Trimboli, Denver’s prolific attack duo of Ethan Walker and Jackson Morrill, and Robert Morris’s Ryan Smith — the third overall pick in the 2020 NLL draft — would have heard their names called much earlier if this a were a typical year.

It isn’t. You could compile a top-tier draft class with a handful of the names that weren’t called. 

The volume of talent makes it seem nearly impossible to categorize any of the picks last night as off the mark, or worse, a whiff. But while it will take months if not years before we can fully determine winners and losers, here’s what you missed and need to know in case you didn’t stay up to watch the draft.


The volume of talent density makes it seem nearly impossible to categorize any of the picks last night as off the mark, or worse, a whiff.


NO. 51 GOES NO. 1 AND KICKS OFF ATLAS OVERHAUL

The lasting image of the 2020 college lacrosse season was Cornell’s Jeff Teat methodically changing directions before firing a sidearm shot around a Penn State short stick defender and into the back of the net to tie the score at 17 with 18 seconds left at the Crown Lacrosse Classic.  

“Where most guys force their way to the goal, he was patient,” said Cornell head coach Connor Buczek, who played for the Atlas the past two summers but was picked up in the 2021 expansion draft by Cannons LC after being left unprotected by Atlas head coach Ben Rubeor. “It was right in character with how he operates. It can be the most high pressure situation you can think of or a practice. He’s just serene on the surface and competitive as hell.”

The Big Red won 10 seconds later on a Angelo Petrakis goal. The contest was widely considered the game of the year at that point. It was also the last time we saw Teat in action. The Ivy League canceled the season three days later. Teat returned to Cornell this spring for a fifth year and lived at home Brampton, Ontario, last fall to preserve his undergraduate status. Yet small group practices and training sessions in Ithaca have had to suffice as his competitive outlets after the Ivy League announced earlier this spring that it would not allow league competition.

Penn, Brown and Dartmouth did manage to play their first games of 2021 last weekend against local opponents. The Big Red have no such games on their slate.

Despite Teat’s lack of visibility this spring, Rubeor cited his experience in the 2018 World Games as a barometer for Teat’s ability to compete and succeed on the biggest stage. 

“His performance against the best players in the world and being the leading scorer for Team Canada made my decision one where I was pretty excited,” Rubeor said on the NBC Sports draft broadcast last night.

Teat will be 11th player from the Hill Academy to join the PLL. North Carolina midfielder Tanner Cook, taken 15th overall by the Chaos, makes it a dozen for Brodie Merrill’s Pride.

“It makes me feel old for sure, if I didn’t feel old already,” said Merrill, the lacrosse director at the independent school in Ontario founded in 2006 for “dedicated student athletes,” not to mention one of the most decorated defenseman in the history of the sport who now plays for Cannons LC. “But it’s definitely really cool to see and get to play with a couple [Hill alums] this summer.”  

With the selection, Teat becomes the third player ever to be picked first in both indoor and outdoor pro lacrosse drafts. He was taken first overall by the New York Riptide in last fall’s NLL draft. The last time a player achieved the distinction was in 2015, when Lyle Thompson was selected first in both the MLL (Florida Launch) and NLL (Georgia Swarm) drafts.

Safe to say that pick holds up.  

Teat was drafted 12th overall in the 2020 PLL college draft by Andy Towers and Chaos LC, when the four-time All-American’s status remained uncertain. Since Teat returned to school, he was re-entered into the 2021 draft pool.

After stocking up on draft picks in trades dealing Paul Rabil, Rob Pannell and Ryan Brown, Rubeor had six selections, tied for the most with Chaos. He ended the first round by taking Virginia midfielder Dox Aitken with the eighth overall pick. Like Aitken, Rubeor wore No. 6 at Virginia.

BACK-TO-BACK, AGAIN, FOR DUKE DUO

While Michael Sowers and JT Giles-Harris, last night’s second and third picks, have made headlines for the past five years with their play, few might know that the 2021 U.S. Lacrosse Magazine Preseason Players of the Year at their respective positions had already been selected with consecutive picks in a previous draft.

This past fall, Sowers — Princeton’s all-time leading scorer who’s continued to dice defenses as a graduate transfer in Durham — was the first name off the board in the inaugural Duke Outdoor Lacrosse League draft. Senior midfielder Nakeie Montgomery, who also served as the head coach of team Peithos in the intrasquad series of scrimmages, did not need long to hand in his team’s first pick.

“When they drafted Mike, obviously we had to draft JT,” Montgomery said. “That’s just how that works. They’re the two best players in the country. When they say iron sharpens iron, it’s pretty cool to watch that actually happen all fall.”

Sowers currently ranks fourth in career points in NCAA history and provides Andy Copelan and Waterdogs LC an offensive quarterback from day one. He also reunites with former Tigers teammate Zach Currier. Ryan Brown, who Copelan acquired this offseason by trading the 11th pick in the college draft to Atlas, must be salivating at the prospect of the open looks and pinpoint accurate passes he’ll get this summer.

Giles-Harris — the 2019 ACC Defensive Player of the Year and one of four defenseman to make the 25-nominee list for this year’s Tewaaraton Award — fills an immediate need for Tim Soudan and Chrome LC after Soudan revealed last night that Tom Rigney would not be available this summer due to military commitments.

“He’s good at everything,” Soudan said of Giles-Harris. (The same could be said of the jack, or rather master, of all trades Ryan Terefenko of Ohio State. Soudan couldn’t contain his enthusiasm knowing he got arguably the steal of the draft and a shutdown short stick defensive midfielder at pick No. 12.)

Towers also provided the opposite of a poker face when taking NCAA goals king and Penn State sharpshooter Mac O’Keefe with the sixth overall pick.








THE WHIPS WAY

By now, the Whipsnakes’ identity is well known. They preach a team-first mentality. They hit singles. They win.

The back-to-back champions’ lack of any glaring needs allowed Jim Stagnitta to hit last night’s draft out of the park. The Whipsnakes managed to add Connor Kirst (No. 7) and Ryan Tierney (No. 16) near or at the end of the first and second rounds to an offense that already boasts the past two MVPs (Matt Rambo and Zed Williams).

Then they tabbed Colin Squires (No. 23) and Nick Grill (No. 31) to join the best defense in the league. Grill, who started his career at Marquette and has played the last two years at Maryland, will join his older brother, BJ, who plays for the Waterdogs, in the pro ranks.

Squires was one of five Denver Pioneers picked last night, the most of any school. Rival Notre Dame had the second-most with four selections.

N.Y. (UP)STATE OF MIND FOR REDWOODS LC

Redwoods head coach Nat St. Laurent likes to say that you can’t get where you’re going if you don’t know where you came from. A native of Carthage (N.Y.), his roots are Upstate.

“There's so much pride there,” he told Kyle Devitte in an Inside Lacrosse article last summer. “There have been so many great lacrosse players coming out of Upstate New York. I was not one of them, but I love the game and watching Jason Coffman [and the Powells] play lacrosse really got me excited about the game.”

St. Laurent added a trio of Upstate stars to the ‘Woods last night. TD Ierlan, who hails from Victor and holds nearly every faceoff record in the book, immediately solves the most obvious need for the team that won only 36.2 percent of its draws in 2020. Get your popcorn ready for the Ierlan-v-Nardella matchup when the Redwoods take on the Whipsnakes in Minneapolis on July 10.

St. Laurent also picked up Virginia’s versatile Charlie Bertrand, who grew up in Baldwinsville and was a two-time D-II Player of the Year at Merrimack, as well as Syracuse midfielder Jamie Trimboli, who before he starred for the Orange attended Victor High School with Ierlan.

The lone exception was Notre Dame faceoff specialist Charlie Leonard (No. 32), who hails from Highlands Ranch (Co.) and could matchup against his future teammate in May in the NCAA tournament.

The Chaos selected the Fighting Irish’s other faceoff threat, Penn graduate transfer Kyle Gallagher, with the 14th overall pick.

NO GOALIE LOVE

There were five faceoff specialists taken last night. There were zero goalies. The fact is more a product of the talent already between the pipes in the PLL and the scarcity of roster spots than an indictment on this year’s class. Duke’s Mike Adler and Syracuse’s Drake Porter are the most notable names you might hear called in waiver period before training camp.




PHOTO BY KEVIN P. TUCKER


Premier Lacrosse League
2021 College Draft Results

Pick

Team

Player

Pos

College

1 Atlas Jeff Teat A Cornell
2 Waterdogs Michael Sowers A Duke
3 Chrome JT Giles-Harris D Duke
4 Redwoods TD Ierlan FO Denver
5 Archers Jared Conners LSM Virginia
6 Chaos Mac O'Keefe A Penn State
7 Whipsnakes Connor Kirst M Rutgers
8 Atlas Dox Aitken M Virginia
         
9 Cannons Jack Kielty D Notre Dame
10 Atlas Jake Carraway A Georgetown
11 Atlas Danny Logan SSDM Denver
12 Chrome Ryan Terefenko SSDM Ohio State
13 Archers Tre Leclaire A/M Ohio State
14 Chaos Kyle Gallagher FO Notre Dame
15 Chaos Tanner Cook M North Carolina
16 Whipsnakes Ryan Tierney A Hofstra
         
17 Atlas Peter Dearth SSDM Syracuse
18 Archers* Jeff Trainor M UMass
19 Chaos Jared Bernhardt A Maryland
20 Chrome Justin Anderson M North Carolina
21 Archers Conor Gaffney FO Lehigh
22 Chaos Kyle Thornton D Notre Dame
23 Whipsnakes Colin Squires D Denver
24 Redwoods Charlie Bertrand A Virginia
         
25 Cannons Stephen Rehfuss A Syracuse
26 Atlas Gerard Arceri FO Penn State
27 Waterdogs Ethan Walker A Denver
28 Chrome Jackson Morrill A Denver
29 Redwoods Jamie Trimboli M Syracuse
30 Chaos Ryan Smith A Robert Morris
31 Whipsnakes Nick Grill D Maryland
32 Redwoods Charlie Leonard FO Notre Dame

* via trade with Waterdogs for Eli Gobrecht