Fully Tucked: Jake Carraway’s Journey to the PLL
By Lauren Merola | Sep 2, 2021
For 150-something days of the offseason during his sophomore year at St. Mary’s High School, Jake Carraway spent 100-balls a day shooting.
“He was always posting it on his Snapchat story,” Carraway’s high school teammate and Redwoods goalie Tim Troutner said. “Every day he was shooting. Rain or shine, I’m not kidding, I watched him go probably over 150 days in a row.”
Paul Rabil started the ‘100 shots for 100 days’ challenge years after attending a camp coached by former Major League Lacrosse Chesapeake Bayhawks coach Dave Cottle, where Cottle challenged roughly 200 campers to take 100 shots per day. Cottle guaranteed Rabil that if he did it, he’d play collegiate lacrosse and get a scholarship.
“Jake’s sophomore year he really became obsessive with lacrosse and his work ethic,” Troutner said. “He flipped a switch when he was very good at lacrosse where he wanted to be great at lacrosse. He shot the ball every day and to see now what he’s doing and how good of a shooter he is exemplifies what he did then. It’s paying off.”
At Georgetown, Carraway scored 195 career goals, the seventh most all-time in NCAA DI history. The righty sniper was selected 10th overall by Atlas in the 2021 College Draft. Up to the 2021 Premier Lacrosse League semifinals, Carraway put away 14 goals and two two-pointers on 30% shooting.
The Atlas squad prides itself on ‘family style’ play. The young Bulls roster moved away from a quarterback-focused offense and toward a role-player one.
Every player has a job and, on Atlas, everybody eats.
“Jake’s a righty-wing attackman,” Atlas coach Ben Rubeor said. “He’s more versatile than that, but specifically for Atlas, he’s helped us establish some balance on the attack.”
Carraway knows his role and plays it well. When Atlas is in need of a boost, he can dodge and unload his weapon of a shot.
“Jake doesn’t need the ball in his stick all the time, but he can if he needs to,” Troutner said.
If he needs to cut away or move off-ball, Carraway recognizes that, too. Atlas midfielder Dan Bucaro said Carraway, like the rest of the team, bought into the family-style system.
“He’s a team guy, do or die,” Bucaro said.
For his personal game, Carraway credits his reflexes and body control to his taekwondo and mixed martial arts (MMA) training.
“It’s been exponential for my growth and development as an athlete and as a person,” Carraway said. “I started when I was four, the same exact age I picked up lacrosse. I think it’s given me bodily awareness like you see wrestlers or jiu-jitsu guys that kind of just have a strong sense of balance. That’s definitely helpful as an athlete playing lacrosse.”
Growing up, Carraway was as competitive in martial arts as he was with lacrosse. When he was 12 years old, he took a break from fighting to focus on lacrosse and the college opportunities that could come with it.
Carraway still has a strong passion for MMA. When he has time, the first-degree black belt in taekwondo likes to find a studio or gym to train in.
He credits his work ethic to fighting. And his humility.
“[MMA] keeps you hard and humble,” he said. “There’s nothing like getting punched in the face.”
Part of Carraway’s attraction to MMA is the action. When he’s home in Sherwood Forest, Md., avoiding hits both in the gym and on the field, the adrenaline junkie off-loads an arsenal other than his shot.
“My favorite memory [with Jake growing up] was going to his house in middle school and finding out how big he is into karate, jiu-jitsu and how he has all these different weapons,” Troutner said. “There’s throwing stars, machetes, swords and knives, and he always practices outside.”
Living in the woods, Carraway has the space and privacy to practice his aim. He normally aims for the huge board he and his dad set up outside.
“He’s a silent assassin,” Troutner said.
The same goes for on the field. In high school, Troutner said Carraway always did the gritty work, came up with the tough ground balls and ripped it past the goalie, all while talking smack along the way.
“He's a really smart kid and very outgoing, but he's a really, really caring guy,” Troutner said. “When you get to really know him, obviously he might talk smack, but he's an actual genuine person that really wants to help other people out and get to know you.”
On Atlas, nothing’s changed. Carraway might quietly sneak around his defenders and b-line it for the twine, but he’ll make sure they hear about it, especially when he’s mic’d up.
“When I’m on the field, the competitive nature comes out,” Carraway said. “You’re trying to do everything you can to gain a leg up on your opponent, so if that entails giving some chirps here and there to get in someone’s head and make them frustrated and overthink their game or make them think about me instead of themselves, then that works. Sometimes, throwing a little extra flair in there for the Under the Helmet interview is fun. I like keeping the fans engaged and the boys on the field engaged.”
Bucaro said Carraway plays with the attitude that he’s the best player in the world. A mindset Bucaro said gets the team hyped up.
“It’s every drill and every practice and every game,” Bucaro said. “He’s not going to take any crap from anyone and he’s going to stick up for you and when you’re not playing your best, he’s going to let you know.”
Which Carraway did in 2017, back when he was a freshman at Georgetown and Bucaro a sophomore. The Hoyas were taking on the Blue Devils at Cooper Field and Bucaro wasn’t playing like his dominant self.
“Jake came up to me and was like, ‘Dude, wake up. Let’s go,’ Bucaro said. “It got me going and motivated me to give it everything I got. I’ll never forget that moment.”
Georgetown lost 12-7, but Carraway and Bucaro picked it up and ended as the team’s two high-scorers of the game, with three goals and two goals, respectively.
“Jake knows when you’re not playing your game or when you’re in your own head,” Bucaro said. “So, he’ll get you out of there.”
Now, Rubeor, who also coached Carraway in high school, said when Atlas isn’t playing well, Carraway brings energy to the field and battles through until the rest of the Bulls follow.
Troutner knows this first hand. Carraway’s first collegiate game was against Troutner at High Point in 2017. Carraway started, as did Troutner, who took every opportunity to chirp.
“I’m like, ‘Jake, this isn’t high school anymore. You can’t shoot like that,’” Troutner said.
Carraway went 0-3 against his hometown goalie, finished with zero points and lost his first Division I game 9-3. Troutner had 14 saves in goal and secured bragging rights for the summer back in Annapolis.
In 2018, High Point and Georgetown met again in the season opener.
“Obviously, I start running my mouth right off the bat,” Troutner said. “I’m like, ‘Hey Jake, it’s the same thing. I don’t know what you think has changed. You’re not going to score on me.’”
Except, Carraway did. He ripped five goals on the night and four on Troutner before he was pulled at halftime. Georgetown walked away with the 15-5 victory and, this time, Carraway with the upper hand for the summer at home. High Point and Georgetown didn’t play one another during the rest of Carraway and Troutner’s college careers and the two ended their battle even at one apiece.
Carraway is no stranger to comebacks. After an 18-6 Atlas beatdown by the Archers in Week 1 — one that put Rubeor’s offseason roster rebuild in question — the Bulls took down a league-favorite Redwoods team 12-9 on Carraway’s five points. He said that bounce-back win was special and started the charge of the Bulls’ new season forward.
It also started the infamous tuck.
When Carraway first got his jersey, it didn’t fit.
“It was an XL and just way too big on me and hanging right above my knees,” he said. “I didn’t like how it looked. I also played like absolute sh*t against the Archers.”
So, Carraway tried something new and tucked his jersey in for the Week 2 game against the Redwoods. After leading the boxscore, the tuck stuck.
The tuck makes its first semifinal appearance when Atlas plays Chaos on Sept. 5. Carraway will be easy to spot on the righty wing, doing his job in a sea of untucked jerseys.
“We have a bunch of very talented players on our team that are all capable of creating their own plays and doing stuff individually, but as a family, as a team, as a collective group, I think the sum of the parts is more influential than each person's individual contribution,” Carraway said. “So if we play family style and everyone does their job, plays their role and makes plays when they need to make plays, I think all of us combined together is a very scary thing.”