Philadelphia Waterdogs midfielder Jack Hannah

How Jack Hannah opens up the entire Waterdogs offense

By Wyatt Miller | Jul 1, 2024

Jack Hannah is to the Philadelphia Waterdogs’ midfield what AJ Brown is to the Philadelphia Eagles’ passing game. Let me explain.

Every time Hannah takes the field, opposing defenses feel the pressure that a top dodger provides. In his first game back from injury against the Carolina Chaos, one of the league’s best defenses bumped a long pole down to guard him, freeing up other middies and drawing slides consistently. He still scored two goals and tacked on an impressive yet familiar assist as the Waterdogs won 10-6 in Minneapolis.

Similarly, when Brown is on the field for the Birds, he draws the top cornerback along with safety help because his jump-ball skills make him nearly impossible to cover one-on-one. His presence alone is enough to dictate coverages, stretch the field and free up underneath routes.

Even without their own stellar production, both of these players transform their respective offenses from good to great, forcing defenses to adjust to their big-play potential.

“What [Hannah] does to the other team is pushes another guy down so maybe [Ryan] Conrad or [Connor] Kelly ends up with a short stick instead of a pole,” head coach and general manager Bill Tierney said. “I thought that had a huge impact on what happened here tonight.”

Hannah is one of the most important pieces to this Philly offense, up there with star attackmen Michael Sowers and Kieran McArdle. And if there’s one person who knows how to get the best out of him, it’s Tierney, his former college coach at Denver. Here’s how Hannah opened up Philadelphia’s offense in its first win of the Tierney era:

Beating long poles and slides

Hannah’s first goal of the season was a product of classic Waterdogs lacrosse. Going from left to right, he used a Jake Carraway screen to get topside and fired low before Ian MacKay could slide to him. Just inside the arc, Hannah’s bouncer fooled Blaze Riorden to give Philly its first lead of the day.

The two-man game has been a staple of the Waterdogs’ offense since their inception in 2020. So, it was only fitting that Hannah would help revive the offense in 2024 using a pick from a fellow midfielder.

Then in the third quarter, Hannah put the Waterdogs ahead for good. This time, he didn’t need a screen. He swept past the middle of the field, giving Troy Reh a little hesitation to shake the long pole, and then ripped a low-to-high runner that stung the far corner.

His creative dodging combined with that quick trigger is a special combination coming out of the box. That’s why Hannah led the league in scoring points per touch last season (.111).

Elite awareness

Even before Hannah scored on Saturday night, he was opening shooting lanes for his teammates. In the first quarter, he drew a short stick in the middle of the field. Immediately, a slide came from a long pole, so he flipped it back to Conrad, who stepped into a two-pointer from the lefty wing but missed the cage.

Although it didn’t result in a score, there are only a few middies in the league who demand that kind of attention in the middle of the field, and Hannah is one of them.

Later on, short-stick defensive midfielder Patrick Resch pressed all the way out to pick Hannah up as he came out of the box. Still, Conrad passed him the rock. Hannah surveyed the field and then exploded down the right alley. As he did so, a Chaos defender tried to pass Kelly off, but nobody picked him up. As that long pole slid to block the alley, Hannah fired a no-look skip pass to Kelly, who went high-to-high and tied the game for the final time that night before the Dogs went on a run.

“He had one of the best assists I’ve seen in a long time tonight that I thought changed the game,” Tierney said.

It was virtually the same pass Hannah made last year against the Chaos. Funnily enough, Resch was guarding him on that occasion, as well. It was deja vu on both sides, even for Tierney, who was in the stands in Denver when that happened. When the camera cut to him, his face was impassive. This time around… well, he probably had the same reaction, but he was on the sideline coaching this time.

Competitive fire

Tierney has often said that Hannah is the most competitive person he’s ever met, and that has shone through in big moments.

After starting each of the past two seasons on the injured list, Hannah played a major role in Waterdogs’ wins upon his return. Last year, it took the form of six points in a three-point victory over the Whipsnakes. On Saturday, he had a hand in 33% of Philly’s scores to help secure the team’s first win of the season. He always makes a big entrance.

Since Hannah was drafted in 2022, the Waterdogs are 16-8 (.667) when he suits up. Now in his third season, Hannah has cemented himself as a top-five dodger in the PLL and is a staple of the Waterdogs’ offense.