A Roster Built for Rules
By Nick Zoroya | Jun 7, 2023
When Chrome LC Head Coach Tim Soudan submitted his 19-man roster last week, he did something differently than every other coach in the league: He dressed four defensive midfielders.
There is very little parity in the construction of each team's game day roster. Across the league all eight teams dressed 12 short sticks, 5 poles, and 2 goalies. What made the Chrome LC’s 19 man roster so interesting was that it was the lone lineup to feature four SSDMs.
Headed into the 2023 PLL season the league introduced a new set of rules that to this point, has teams scheming and adjusting to match the increased pace and lack of settled play. The rule that has stood out is the adjusted shot clock. The shot clock is now 32 seconds after a faceoff possession or when the offense regains a possession off of a shot on goa
To prepare for the increase in transition and unsettled play, the Chrome LC dressed four defensive midfielders, all of which are known for their ability to not only play defense, but to effectively clear the ball and be an adequate offensive threat. With access to four guys that don’t have to leave the field, the Chrome offense is able to sub more quickly than their opponents, salvaging as much of the shot clock as possible. Mike Messenger, Alex Smith, Will Haus, and Ryan Terefenko are the guys that don’t often pop on the stat sheet, but they are grease that keeps the Chrome machine rolling.
In addition to the roster’s positional design, we also saw the versatility of the players that Coach Soudan has assembled. At LSM, Eli Salama and Nick Grill are a threat to push transition, often streaking up the field and staying involved with the offense until the last possible second. Sean Sconone was seen making world class outlet passes, often catching the Whipsnakes LC’s offensive players napping, and forcing them to play defense instead of subbing. Heck, the first goal of the game was close defender Mike Manley throwing fakes and splitting the defense for a goal. All told, “defensive players” for the Chrome LC accounted for 2 goals and 2 assists.
These roster decisions and this style of play are no accident. The Chrome started training camp by playing Sixes, and look at the way that these players attack the field. There wasn’t a single player (other than Sconone) that didn’t cross the midline in an attempt to push offense, which speaks to the mentality and strategy that Coach Soudan has clearly implemented.
Yes there is still room for improvement. Connor Farrell, like the rest of the FOs in the league, is quickly learning the harm that winning faceoffs backwards can cause. There were times that a faceoff win, passed backwards to the goalie or defender would lead to a rushed offensive possession. Ideally the team will work on finding ways to limit these situations moving forward.
When you look at the stat sheet you see the familiar names of offensive players like Justin Anderson, Logan Wisnauskas and Sam Handley, but it’s the players on the defensive end that are creating opportunities. Take a closer look this week at the guys working in between the arcs, pushing transition, playing both ends, and helping the team make the most of the shot clock.