Film Study: How Matt Rees can impact the Whipsnakes’ defensive unit

By Adam Lamberti | Jan 17, 2024

When the Maryland Whipsnakes traded for Matt Rees this offseason, the deal was a bit surprising.

I did not understand trading for a 30-year-old long-stick midfielder coming off major knee surgery when you still have Michael Ehrhardt on the roster and Colin Squires on the roster, not to mention Elijah Gash, who missed his rookie season last year due to injury, waiting in the wings for a chance to show his potential. 

But well-documented last year was the uncertain future of Ehrhardt. He hinted at retirement, and is a pending free agent this upcoming season. So with that in mind, the move to get Rees makes more sense - bring in a veteran to mentor the LSM group while still playing meaningful minutes if Ehrhardt moves on from the club. And if Ehrhardt is back for another season, great, both Rees and Squires have experience playing close defense and could add depth there to make the long-stick midfield room less crowded.

When I turned on the film, I began to realize how impactful a player Rees was last season, and why that impactful play could continue into this season with the Maryland Whipsnakes.

It’s hard not to notice Matt Rees immediately. Standing 6-foot-4, Rees’ length causes problems for offenses both on-ball and off-ball.

Rees had his best statistical season since 2019, causing 10 turnovers (2nd amongst LSMs), scooping up 12 groundballs, and finishing with five points en route to his first All-Star nod.

After being a key piece for the Carolina Chaos in 2019 and 2020, Rees was out of the lineup most of 2021 due to military obligation (Rees attended the Naval Academy). In 2022, Rees was the third defender down low for the Chaos, playing perhaps his best game of the season in the Chaos’ loss to the Waterdogs in the Cash App Championship.

With a new team in the Boston Cannons in 2023, Rees slid back into the long-stick midfielder spot alongside rookie phenom Ethan Rall. He enjoyed one of his best seasons before injuring his knee against his current team, the Whipsnakes, in the last regular season game of the year.

Aiming to be back fully healthy for 2024, Rees should be a great 1-2 with Ehrhardt in the long-stick midfielder unit. Imagine taking a run against the 5-time Brodie Merrill Long-Stick Midfielder of the Year and then the next shift, you have to go up against the 6’4 Rees? No fun.

As said before, Rees is an option to play close defender alongside Matt Dunn and Tim Muller, but I would rather have Colin Squires slide down low out of the group. Squires not only played close defense at University of Denver, but was a standout, earning Big East Defensive Player of the Year his senior year in 2021.

If Rees can come back 100% from his injury, which there’s no reason to believe he won’t be able to, the Whipsnakes add a great player, teammate, but also add flexibility to their defensive unit.