Jack Hannah: The Hybrid Midfielder

By Adam Lamberti | Aug 31, 2022

Only Matt Rambo and Lyle Thompson have shot the ball more times this season than rookie midfielder Jack Hannah.

While Hannah isn’t on the same All-Star level as Rambo and Thompson, one thing is for certain: He’s not shy to let it fly. 

Scoring 11 goals and playing in every game this season, Waterdogs head coach Andy Copelan thinks Hannah’s unique college lacrosse background is a big reason why he’s able to generate such a high volume of shots.

“He is an American field player, but he kind of has a little bit of a hybrid style in terms of he has the ability to beat you over the top or underneath,” said Copelan.

Hannah, who’s a native of Milford, Ohio, grew up playing an ‘American’ style of lacrosse; using both hands, dodging down the alleys, etc. His 6’1 frame allows him to gain a step with ease running down the alleys, where he can then hammer shots with both hands.

Hannah’s first professional goal was this left-handed alley dodge, placing the ball in the bottom corner after blowing by a long-stick midfielder.

His second career goal came the next game, this time a right-handed alley dodge where he showcased exceptional wrist strength to score on maybe the best goalie in the PLL right now. 

However, it’s the Canadian influence Hannah was exposed to during his days at the University of Denver that has made him so dangerous shooting from anywhere on the field. 

Former Denver Outlaw and current University of Denver associate head coach Matt Brown puts a big emphasis on implementing box lacrosse into the Pioneers field game. Brown, who has coached Team Canada across multiple age groups, helps attract many of the best Canadian players to Denver because of this coaching philosophy. Denver has churned out PLL players Ethan Walker and Wes Berg among others. 

Hannah credits Brown for helping him elevate and diversify his game using box lacrosse.

“The one thing that Coach Brown really does a great job of in Denver is teaching proper stick skills, learning to catch the ball properly without cradling and things like that, and, you know, box drills and playing box [lacrosse],” Hannah said. “Box is a giant, giant part of me developing.”

The box lacrosse influence is most evident in Hannah’s wing dodges. It was a strong point for him in college, and now he’s scored multiple professional goals on wing dodges, the most impressive one being his most recent goal against the Archers.

The goal is particularly impressive not only because of the strong dodge and underneath move, but the finish. Much like a Canadian, Hannah brings his stick back to the middle of the field to his right hand, instead of putting it in his left hand, which increases his angle to score. Additionally, he uses a ‘twister’ finish. By ‘twisting’ the stick across his body, he deceives the goalie into thinking he’s gonna stuff it near-pipe, but then pulls it far-pipe for the goal.

Although the box lacrosse games and drills took a bit of adjusting to when he was at Denver, Hannah feels it’s paid dividends especially for his game.

“That influence of box and how to dodge from the wing and keeping your stick in one hand, which is, you know, sometimes I probably should throw it in my left hand in field [lacrosse],” said Hannah. “I really just try to implement everything I can learn into my game and try to see what works for me.”

While Hannah is third in the league in shots attempted, he’s shooting only 17% while Rambo is at 28%, and Thompson at 39%. 

While it's hard to compare Hannah to both Rambo and Thompson because of the difference in shots midfielders and attackmen take, consistency has always been the knock on Hannah, dating back to his college days.

But leading into the 2022 PLL Draft, his ability to generate his own shots is why Copelan regarded Hannah so highly as a prospect despite the inconsistent shooting.

“If you had him on the phone, he'd probably tell you, you know, that he at times was maybe a little bit streaky with his shooting,” said Copelan. “But, we’ve been really pleased with his development, his evolution here - he's a real special one.”

While Hannah has lots of work to do to reach his full potential, like any rookie, Copelan thinks the sky's the limit for his rookie because of his talent, but also his work ethic and demeanor that make him a key part of the “future” of the Waterdogs.

“He's just an understated dude. But I think, you know, it's only a matter of time before I think he's regarded as one of the best midfielders in the league. So like I said, I’m happy. Happy he's with us.”