Ryan Drenner Cannons
Photo courtesy of Nick Ieradi.

Film Study: What makes Ryan Drenner the Cannons’ Swiss army knife

By Grant DelVecchio

Aug 12, 2023

In the assembly of the jigsaw puzzle that is the Cannons offense this season, Ryan Drenner is that one piece that has a little bit of the entire mosaic on it. He helps complete the Boom Squad’s arsenal in his role as the unit’s Swiss Army knife.  

Drenner has been one of the most consistent and productive midfield talents in the PLL over the last several seasons. Now in his seventh season, Drenner was just named to his fourth All-Star team and is closing in on his fifth career 20-point season. With two goals against the Waterdogs in the Cannons fifth straight victory on Sunday, Drenner recorded his sixth multi-point and fourth multi-goal game of the season. 

Whether he’s dodging from the midfield, inverting at X, or creating off-ball, Drenner has been a key cog in the Cannons offensive success this year. 

Off-Ball IQ

Drenner is one of the coaches on the field that Cannons Offensive Coordinator Jim Mitchell spoke about a few weeks ago. In June, Drenner was named head coach of the Gerstell Academy boys lacrosse program in his hometown of Finksburg, Maryland. His coaching resume includes two two-year stints each on the offensive staffs at York College PA and McDaniel College.

Drenner’s ample experience as both a player and coach has elevated his ability to dissect defensive coverages and anticipate how defenders will react to certain actions. In the process, he’s become dangerous without the ball in his stick. 

On this goal in the rematch against Chrome, Drenner starts the offense with the ball behind the net, but it’s what he does without it that leads to the goal. After getting the ball back up top to be worked around, Drenner stays involved in the play, recognizes the help side defender is out of position in response to Matt Campbell’s dodge, and cuts to the middle of the field with his stick up. From there, all Drenner does is beat Sean Sconone stick side while shooting across his body with his off-hand. His constant motion leaves the defender lost on the play. 

He further demonstrated his expert spatial awareness on Sunday against the Waterdogs. On this play late in the first half, Drenner sets up wide during this two-man action between he and Marcus Holman before setting a screen for Holman to work towards the middle of the field. Holman draws the double and Drenner then works back outside to space where the play began. Then, it’s catch and fire. It doesn’t get much simpler than a pick and roll, but Drenner executes it to perfection.

Working on the power play in the season opener, Drenner rotates to the center of the scoring area and swiftly carves out an opening before finishing through contact. Drenner is patient in waiting to make his move until the ball is up top with Holman.

Up Top, Down Low, Too Slow 

Few in the league are as accurate or effective shooting on the run as Drenner. In the rematch with Chrome, watch Drenner come screaming in from midfield and fire a rocket past Sconone without decelerating. Drenner catches the pass from Jonathan Donville and gets his shot off all in one motion, giving Sconone little chance for a well timed reaction. 

Drenner is currently shooting over 30 percent for the third consecutive season. He’s converted on better than 30 percent of his shot attempts in five of his seven professional seasons. Against Chaos in week two, Drenner made another talented short-stick look stuck in the mud. One shifty split dodge and a few steps later and the ball is beyond Blaze Riorden

As a former two-time All-American attackman at Towson, Drenner makes the Cannons offense tougher to defend thanks to his comfortability working behind the cage. 

With 10 seconds left in the third quarter of the Cannons first meeting with Chrome, Drenner smelled blood in the water and took advantage. Starting at X, with one hesitation move he gets past the shorty guarding him and makes a beeline to the front of the cage. On the way, he absorbs a check in the back from a late slide and is still able to maintain his body control and send a bullet by Sconone. His speed, athleticism and finishing ability are all on full display on this goal. 

Coach Soudan reacts the only way he can (see: end of clip). 

Drenner’s versatility combined with his veteran leadership and decision making have made him an X factor for the Cannons this season.

In 180 total touches, he’s turned the ball over just twice. He’s shooting 38%, which would tie a career high, and his six assists are the most he’s had in four seasons in the PLL. 

For several years now, Drenner has been one of the more underrated talents in the league. But if you’ve been paying attention, his impact on the Cannons journey to their first PLL postseason is undeniable. 

Just ask Kyle Harrison, who knows a thing or two about midfield talent:

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