Denver Outlaws faceoff specialist Luke Wierman

How rookie Luke Wierman is already changing Outlaws’ faceoff fortunes

By Topher Adams | Jun 7, 2024

When the PLL shrank its shot clock to 32 seconds after a faceoff, the requirements of a faceoff specialist changed. It’s not as important to win the initial draw. It’s about winning possession toward the offense as soon as possible. 

The change allowed teams to scheme around dominant faceoff specialists like Connor Farrell. Farrell won 61% of his draws for the Chrome last season, but opposing teams harassed him with long poles at the stripe. This led to turnovers and many short, useless possessions by the time the ball reached the offense.

Rookie Luke Wierman is changing that for the Denver Outlaws.

Despite Farrell’s success in the PLL -- two All-Star appearances, career 55% faceoff win rate -- Denver needed something more. Wierman presented the best fit, not only for his play at the whistle, but what he can do after it.

Wierman was one of the best faceoff specialists in college lacrosse over the last three seasons. He won 60.9% of his draws at Maryland, and he led the nation in winning percentage this past season.

Maryland’s all-time leader in faceoff wins has the prerequisite faceoff dominance to translate to the professional level. But he’s also shown a special ability to turn faceoff wins into meaningful offense.

Wierman is great at exiting forward and immediately getting downhill. When he got in the lane, he could finish at a high level.

Wierman isn’t just capable of creating for himself, though. He also has strong enough stick skills to get the ball to his teammates cleanly and start the offense. 

Doing all of that in college builds a strong draft resume, and Denver selected Wierman in the fourth round. He was the only faceoff specialist drafted this year. Heading into training camp, it seemed like an open battle between Farrell and Wierman for the starting job.

Despite a late arrival to camp due to Maryland’s run to the national championship game, Wierman won the starting role. He started off slow in Denver’s season opener against the Carolina Chaos, losing about half of his draws to Nick Rowlett in the first half. However, he won 12 of the 15 second-half faceoffs and finished the game 18-for-27 (66.6%).

That instant offense also immediately translated to the next level. Wierman showed those clean exits that quickly got the ball into a dangerous area.

Even when his wins didn’t instantly create offense, they got Denver started with enough time left on the shot clock to attack.

On Tuesday, Denver released Farrell after Wierman’s successful debut. The Outlaws now have just one faceoff specialist on the 25-man roster. Denver used that roster spot to sign goalie Matt Knote.

Wierman is good, but his play is improved by Denver’s elite group of players on the wing. It’s not just that the Outlaws have a talented group of long-stick midfielders and short-stick defensive midfielders, but the personnel is built to attack immediately off of wins.

Rookie LSM Jake Piseno already looks like one of the best players in the league at his position. On faceoffs, he makes countless little plays to win possessions, and he’s a dangerous threat when Denver wins the ball.

The short-stick trio of Ryan Terefenko, Mike Messenger and Justin Anderson is one of the best two-way groups in the league. All three can stay on offense and be goal dangerous. Anderson, who’s primarily an offensive midfielder, is especially dangerous in early offense. 

Wierman is the centerpiece of Denver’s changing faceoff strategy, and he’s flanked by a unique set of wings built to attack in the 32-second shot clock era. Dominating against the Chaos is one thing, but the biggest challenges still await Wierman.

In Week 2, Denver will face Mike Sisselberger and the Utah Archers. Sisselberger won 68% of his draws last season and 92% in the season opener against the Philadelphia Waterdogs. If Wierman can challenge Sisselberger and the other top faceoff specialists in the league, the Outlaws will have something special on their hands.