Film Study: Analyzing Chrome’s Short-Stick Defensive Midfielders
The Premier Lacrosse League rosters are filled with talented position groups and the Chrome LC’s short-stick defensive midfielder group may be the best you’ve never heard of. Of the 59 scores allowed by Chrome, they are responsible for only 11. The average shooting percentage across the league is 29.5% yet these four men are holding opponents to just 22%. Each of them has a unique skill set but one thing remains true for all, they will completely sell out to help the team.
Borrowing from the words of Thanos, Ryan Terefenko is inevitable. No matter how you draw up the offense, there’s a good chance that you can’t avoid him. He is without debate one of the top short stick cover guys in the world, but to focus on his defense alone would be a disservice. Terry is absolutely lethal between the lines, the human clear is an elite ball carrier through traffic.
His vision and speed were on full display during the world championships as he iced the game for Team USA. Terefenko is such an integral part of the Chrome clear and wing play that he’s amassed 64 touches this season, second highest among short-stick defensive midfielders.
One word to describe Mike Messenger, unicorn. Remember that midfielder in high school that never came off the field, took faceoffs, played defense, then scored the game winner? That’s Mike Messenger but he’s doing it at the professional level. I would say he’s underappreciated but he did just make his first all-star game, so people are finally starting to see how much skill this guy has.
Of the four short-stick defensive midfielders on Chrome, he’s seen the least amount of time on defense (due to his reps as an offensive midfielder), but that doesn’t discount the fact that in 2023 no one has scored on Messenger. Opponents are shooting 0/6. He’s a statistical beast and through five games has four goals, four caused turnovers, and seven ground balls. Of all short-stick defensive midfielders, Messenger leads the league with 70 touches. Moving forward expect head coach Tim Soudan to use him more at the faceoff stripe allowing him to get more involved in the offense.
Will Haus plays the position like the veteran he is. The eldest of the group sees the game a bit differently, he's more cerebral. Haus is a great on ball defender but watching him off ball is clinical. His stick is glued to the body of his matchup while his eyes are always on ball ready to slide or hedge when needed. Haus’s ability to alternate faceoff wing and man down reps with Terefenko shows just how much trust the staff has in him. It’s important to note that he’s one of just four short stick defensive midfielders with at least 30 touches that has ZERO turnovers.
Alex Smith was picked up by Chrome during the 2022 season but didn’t see any action. The former Maryland Terrapin is making the most of his 2023 reps, proving time and time again that he can contribute at this level. The greenest of the group, Smith is being thrown into the fire of professional lacrosse and every week appears to improve. He has all of the tools to be a solid pro and with the other short-stick defensive midfielders as mentors it won’t be long before we see his role grow. Right now he’s doing what he’s supposed to do, playing solid defense, taking care of the ball (zero turnovers), and slowly increasing his touches.