California Redwoods rookie Garrett Degnon

Digging into Garrett Degnon’s hat-trick debut for Redwoods

By Jerome Taylor | Jun 11, 2024

After his team clawed its way back from a four-goal deficit last Friday, Redwoods rookie Garrett Degnon scored an emphatic two-pointer to give California an 11-9 lead against the Carolina Chaos. 

It was one of at least three reasons that proved why Redwoods head coach Nat St. Laurent said he’d “be sitting with a smile on [his] face” if Degnon fell to No. 18 in the 2024 College Draft.

Even though Degnon dropped to the third round, he was high enough on the Redwoods draft board that St. Laurent went to scout him in person during the Big Ten tournament. 

The John Hopkins product finished his first PLL game with a hat trick (3G, 1T) on 50% shooting in the 12-11 loss to the Chaos. Despite the final result, Degnon’s two-pointer put the California well ahead of last year’s pace in terms of scoring from distance. 

In 2023, the Redwoods finished seventh in two-point goals (four) and had to wait until their eighth game before they scored from beyond the arc.

If Degnon can continue to put pressure on opposing defenses from distance, that can open things for an offense that already has one of the best finishers (Wes Berg) and feeders (Rob Pannell) in the PLL.  

Let’s look at how the Redwoods unlocked Degnon in his debut and what he’ll have to do to keep this momentum moving forward. 

Film study on Degnon’s career-starting hat trick 

Working backward, Degnon’s last goal against the Chaos resulted from the two-man action that emerged between him and Charlie Bertrand in training camp. 

In the action’s public debut, Bertrand’s reputation as a dodger creates the opportunity for Degnon. The first Degnon pick produces a switch, so Bertrand gets the short-stick matchup, causing Troy Reh to pay a little too much attention as a help defender. 

With Bertrand moving laterally across the offense, the two-man game works more like a dribble hand-off at the top of the key in basketball. 

As Bertrand takes his defender across the offense, Degnon slightly fades, creating more distance for Reh, who is playing both the slide and Degnon. 

Once Bertrand creates enough space to roll back, Degnon’s fade allows him to step into a shot with his feet still beyond the two-point arc, something the Redwoods staff stressed to him in training camp.  

“I gave him a hard time all training camp about hitting a long one. They’re like long twos in hoops,” St. Laurent said in the postgame press conference. “But that last [goal], he was able to step behind and knew exactly where that two-point line was, and it was a big-time goal for us,”

As the season progresses, this combination will be fun to watch evolve. As Degnon moves higher up the scouting report, Bertrand should have more room to dodge downhill, which could bring his scoring numbers closer to his 2022 season (career-high 18 goals). 

In Degnon’s second goal, he pulled out his do-it-yourself kit and showed that he could create his own shot if need be. 

Off a stutter-step, he absorbs the contact from Zach Geddes on a left-handed dodge, steps back to create space and pumps one past Austin Kaut

Degnon scoring off the dodge will be a plus for the Woods, considering they already have some established initiators.

Outside of increasing his scoring versatility, the rookie proved that he doesn’t need much space to get shots off, which could force opposing defensive coordinators to be tentative about putting a short-stick defensive midfielder on him moving forward. 

Degnon’s first goal of the game showcased his most promising trait: off-ball stretch-shooting. 

Pannell has treated lacrosse fans to some tremendous feeds throughout his career — 274 to be exact — but in recent years, they have been disproportionately to inside finishers. 

Degnon may serve as a remedy for that. 

The first goal of his career came on a Pannell assist, and he also benefitted from Berg causing some commotion on the inside as he cut across the crease. 

As Berg and Ryder Garnsey occupy three defenders on the inside, Degnon sweeps across the top of the formation, and Pannell dots him, though he jokingly reminded him that his “first goal was a long one” in the postgame press conference. 

As Degnon’s reputation as a shooter increases, so will his gravitational pull, opening things up for scorers like Berg, Garnsey and Bertrand. If those bucket-getters find a rhythm that can help mitigate some of the offensive lulls we saw against the Chaos. 

The Redwoods will need all the firepower they can get in Degnon's second act as they take on an undefeated New York Atlas team in a Father’s Day matchup on ABC.