Matt Campbell Lacrosse

Film Study: What Makes Matt Campbell Uncontainable

By Grant DelVecchio

Aug 2, 2023

On draft night, Cannons LC Head Coach and General Manager Brian Holman detailed what made Matt Campbell the right pick for the Cannons at #9. 

“Matt brings a lot to the table. He is two-handed, he dodges hard, he can quarterback an offense, he can dodge from the midfield and he's got a great assist-to-goal ratio,” Holman asserted. 

Now six games into his rookie season, it hasn’t taken long for Campbell to give credence to his coach’s early assessment and establish himself as a serious scoring threat in the midfield for the Cannons. Let’s roll the tape to prove what Coach Holman already told us back in May.

“He’s two-handed…"

Campbell scored the first goal of his professional career with his off-hand.

After catching it on the left wing, Campbell works his way up top before using a swim dodge to get his hands free and unload a righty rocket past Brett Dobson

Campbell’s willingness to get to his right hand and let it fly makes him an extremely tough cover, especially when you factor in his quick-twitch explosiveness. Watch how sudden his change of direction is here, as he gets right by a helpless Bryan Costabile and finds twine from just inside the two-point arc.

Then there’s this play Campbell made against Chrome the second time around. He catches a pass with his right hand in traffic, spins while switching to his left almost simultaneously, and then finishes on the doorstep in an impressive display of his body control and ambidexterity.

“He dodges hard," and "he dodges from the midfield..."

As important as the additions of Marcus Holman and Matt Kavanagh have been to the Cannons offensive success this season, Campbell has provided the Boom Squad with a natural midfielder capable of initiating immediate offense running out of the box - something they’ve been missing in past seasons. 

Coach Holman meant well, but saying Campbell dodges hard is a gross understatement. The Villanova product has scored a goal in all six games this season, and left his defender in the dust in the process more often than not. 

Campbell’s speed and size allows him to blow past defenders who are on their heels as he enters the field of play with momentum coming out of the box. 

Again from his pro debut against the Archers, Campbell sets up a step down chance for Ryan Drenner after making one quick stutter step, sprinting by his defender and drawing a double. Campbell was gone in such a flash, Drenner didn’t  even have time to set a proper pick.

He’s just as adept at utilizing his athleticism to create his own shot, as well. Short-sticks and long poles alike have struggled to keep up with Campbell once he gets going downhill.

“He can quarterback an offense, and he’s got a great assist-to-goal ratio.”

In other words, Campbell was scouted as a do-it-all talent who plays unselfish and is a good decision maker. So far, he’s been exactly that. 

“Soup” has turned it over only seven times in 134 total touches. He’s scored nine goals on 24 shot attempts (38%) and over 17 of his 22 touches per game have been passes. Campbell and Asher Nolting are tied for the league lead in “second assists”, or passes that lead to assists, with four. 

On this play, the offense runs through the rookie. He comes off the screen from Ryan Drenner with his eyes up and swings a timely and accurate feed to Marcus Holman for the score.

Campbell’s big frame doesn’t just help him in the dodging department, it also enables him to go to work down low. Here, he sets a back screen for Matt Kavanagh, forces a late slide, turns and burns.

After his debut against the Archers week one in Albany, Coach Holman said post game, “Nothing has phased [Matt] so far, it looks like he’s been in the league a long time.”

Then, the rookie went out and scored one of the most clutch goals around the league this season, sending a two-point bouncer past Blaze to tie the game with under two minutes to play in the Cannons week 2 OT loss to Chaos LC.

With the game on the line, the Cannons designed a play out of a timeout for their rookie midfielder who had one career game under his belt. Enough said.

Few rookies enter a professional setting as poised and prepared as Campbell has been for the Cannons. Last week against the Redwoods, he recorded his fifth multi-point game of the season and is well on his way to a Rookie of the Year finalist selection.

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