Crease Collapse of the Week: Liam Byrnes

By Joe Keegan

PLL Analyst

Jun 13, 2022

The Waterdogs defense slides a lot. They got exposed early in ’21. Opponents buried 40.7% of their assisted shots thru the 4th of July. After moving Liam Byrnes from LSM to close defense, that number plummeted to 24.7%.

Byrnes cleans up teammates’ mistakes. He’s always covering more than one player. Sometimes one-and-a-half. Sometimes two. And he prioritizes in real-time during recoveries as well as anyone.

Byrnes starts inside here. As Matt Whitcher forces Bryan Cole underneath, Byrnes hedges to deter a crease dive (like the one Cole scored on in the fourth quarter). Once the threat of the crease dive subsides, Byrnes peels. His original assignment (Justin Guterding) is now on the wing – and Ryland Rees is closing out to him. So Byrnes books it towards Rees’s man (Chris Aslanian) inside to prevent a shot.

This defense limited the Whipsnakes to 7-for-37 (18.9%) shooting in settled sets. They smothered the paint. They played a ton of defense after FO Jake Withers exited early with an injury. And they were stretched thin when Chris Sabia left. Whitcher picked up a pole at times. Everyone stepped up in front of goalie Matt DeLuca. The ‘Dogs defense played well enough to win in an overtime loss to the Whipsnakes.

Liam Byrnes and the Waterdogs have an opportunity to bounce back on Friday night at 6:00PM ET at James M. Shuart Stadium on ESPN+.

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