Film Study: Who will be the Whipsnakes’ third attack?

By Adam Lamberti | Jul 21, 2022

The Whipsnakes have yet to find a reliable third attackman to run alongside Matt Rambo and Zed Williams in 2022.

Although the two-time Champions have started with a 4-1 record, they've also started four different attack lines through those five weeks.

With the return of Williams, the third attack option appears to be wide open between Jay Carlson, Keegan Khan, and Jackson Reid. So what do each of them bring to the table? 

Option 1: Jay Carlson 

Carlson started every game for the Whipsnakes in 2021, registering 25 goals including the postseason. Playing primarily on the crease, he’s a fantastic off-ball mover with soft hands and creative goal scoring ability. His inside presence also allows Williams and Rambo to dodge from X while creating confusion for sliding defenses.

Because Carlson is not a primary dodging option for the Whipsnakes, opposing defenses often opt to cover him with a short-stick and pole two Whips midfielders instead, such as All-Stars Mike Chanenchuk and Brad Smith. Defenses have also adjusted gameplans to try and not slide off of Carlson because of the inside threat he poses. Carlson was instrumental in the 2019 and 2020 Championship wins for the Whips, scoring a goal in both and generating multiple other chances through well-timed crease movement. Opposing coaches have picked up on that, especially the Chaos, and used defensive tactics such as face guarding Carlson to not let him find space inside.

As a counter, Carlson will move to the wings and X to set numerous picks a game. While Carlson’s trying a matchup switch onto Williams or Rambo when he sets these picks, he’s scored multiple goals this season as a result of the confusion created.

Option 2: Keegan Khan

Drafted in third round of this year’s collegiate draft, Khan started on attack for the National Champion Maryland Terrapins, playing alongside 2022 Tewaaraton Winner and first overall pick Logan Wisnauskas. Khan’s calling card is his two-handedness (how many guys have you seen score behind the back with both hands?!) and finishing ability coming around or near GLE, displayed here by his first career goal.

Garnering his first start in Week 5, Khan’s skill set gives defenses a different look than a prototypical crease attackman like Carlson, according to Coach Jim Stagnitta.

“Matt is a left side of the cage guy and Zed a right side guy,” Stagnitta said. “Keegan gives us that ‘X’ attackman that can break you down and take you right- and left-handed.”

Like the role he played in college that allowed Wisnauskas free roam around the offensive end, Khan’s comfortability playing behind the net allows Williams and Rambo similar freedom. This creates more choice in where and how Rambo and Williams want to attack their matchup above GLE, causing headaches for opponents. And when defenses do slide to Rambo or Williams, Khan will make you pay with his well-timed cuts coming from X.

Option 3: Jackson Reid

Reid, a lefty from Ohio State and native of Guelph, Ontario, is a pure goal scorer. Third in the Buckeyes' history in career goals with 130, Reid can score in a variety of ways. Stagnitta referred to him as a “Swiss army knife” with his ability to move offball, set picks, and dodge as both an attackman and midfielder. While Reid hasn’t gotten a starting nod this regular season, the Whipsnakes have turned to the rookie in the biggest moments. His two goals on the season have both tied the game late in the fourth quarter.

Although not the quickest, Reid still excels as a wing dodger due to his savvy stickskills and creativity. He used different variations of the wing dodge to score many times in college, and in his first professional game, scored on a wing dodge as well.

Stagnitta mentioned that though the Whipsnakes are winning games, he wants to see his offense develop an identity and become more consistent, and a big part of that is who takes the reins of the third attack spot. 

“They’re all different [players] - certainly that’s our challenge now,” Stagnitta said of finding the right guy to run alongside his former league MVP’s.