Photo courtesy of Nick Ieradi

Chris Cloutier resurges in win over Redwoods

By Daniel May

Aug 9, 2023

Once again, Chaos showed they get better as the season goes on.

First it was Kyle Jackson who stepped up the past two weeks, and now Chris Cloutier.

Held scoreless the whole first quarter, Cloutier got the ball rolling and never slowed down to help lead his team to a 14-12 win.

In his first time suiting up since being a healthy scratch the past three weeks, Cloutier proved why he deserves to stay in the line-up – scoring four goals and two ground balls, all while shooting 36%.

He was a catalyst for Chaos who gutted out a narrow win over the Redwoods to tie up the season series and push the team into third place.

“Just so happy for Clouch, to be able to get an opportunity and step up and really just answer the bell on the offensive end. All of his success doesn’t surprise any of us. We’ve kind of had a great problem this season, in that, we got a great group of 19. But we also have six guys that can step in and bring a different set of strengths to our 19-man line-up. Certainly Clouch is one of those guys,” said Andy Towers after the game. 

What impressed Towers most about Cloutier's performance was how he responded to adversity by buying into the team-first mentality that is the heartbeat of the group. Cloutier stayed ready and was poised to capitalize on his next chance.

“Clouch didn’t get wrapped up in not being on the 19-man game day line-up. Instead, he got focused on staying in shape, staying sharp, and certainly we reaped the rewards of his team-first approach to being out of the line-up,” said Towers.

Where Cloutier struggled at the start of the year was something that has been a pillar of his game - inside finishing. On Sunday he regained his stride. 

Without Josh Byrne - the team’s leading scorer - and a scoreless first quarter, the broadcasters were scratching their heads as to who would open up the floodgates for Chaos.

Just as Kyle Harrison predicted, “I think it starts with Dhane Smith and Cloutier.”

Seconds after Harrison’s statement, Dhane came out of the box with a head of steam and got downhill, drawing the eyes of the Redwoods off-ball defenders. Cloutier cut behind his defender’s head and finished in front for the finish. 

Chaos struggled in the first quarter turning the ball over while being opportunistic in transition and simple unforced errors. On this goal, they were able to get back to who they are - attacking with speed and finding the open man off the slide.

“I think when the game is played at the highest level it’s a ball movement game. And what makes all of these guys dangerous is that they understand that, they’re committed to that, and they all play the same game,” said Towers. “We are at our best when the ball is moving quickly. When we make a hard move, move it forward, and keep the ball moving. We got what I think, as a group of offensive players, are the best playmakers in the world.”

Watching Dhane and Cloutier is an art. They play with each other year-round and have complimenting abilities. Dhane is an incredible feeder and initiator for Chaos who draws eyes and slides. Cloutier is an automatic scorer on the inside who puts himself in threatening areas of the field to finish from those feeds.

Once again, Dhane attacks his matchup downhill which puts pressure on the Redwoods base defender. Cloutier can sense the heavy eyes and gets out of Dhane’s way to clear the lane. The defender doesn’t notice Cloutier cut underneath and Dhane makes a slick feed to him on the crease.

Ball movement, cutting off dodges, and everyone working together - that’s Chaos lacrosse.

Cloutier also found chances to score off errant passes and ground balls. For his second of the game he scooped up the rebound from a Tye Kurtz shot. Although the goalie was slightly out of position, he made sure to take the best chance possible. 

He hitched, forced the on-ball defender to overplay him, face-dodged underneath and finished in front with his hands free from five yards. Patience and poise led to this goal, which he has added back to his game since his early season woes.

He stepped up in Josh Byrne’s absence and is deserving of another chance to remain in the lineup. Although he might come out of the midfield if Josh Byrne comes back, that’s not an issue. Cloutier is a proven scorer, and as we’ve seen in these goals, he’ll get those chances regardless.

We’ll have to wait and see for an update on Byrne, but Cloutier is a strong candidate to replace him in his absence.

Share This With Friends