Michael Sowers: The Prince of Philly

By Sarah Griffin | Sep 22, 2022

A little over a year ago, rookie Michael Sowers played in his second game all season in front of a home crowd at Subaru Park as the Waterdogs took on the Whipsnakes in the semifinals. The Dogs fell 14-10 and with that, Sowers’ dissatisfying rookie year ended at home in Philadelphia as the young attackman set his sights on next season.  

A year later, there’s just some things that can’t be scripted any better.

In a span of two seasons, Sowers went from being sidelined with injury for essentially the entire year, to ending his season once again in front of a hometown crowd only this time, he and the Waterdogs left the field champions.

Sowers racked up three points in the championship game with two goals and one assist, and finished the postseason as the leading point and goal scorer for the Waterdogs with 12 points and 8 goals in three games. He earned the coveted game MVP title, as both the initiator and dodger from X for the Waterdogs throughout their playoff run. 

Matched up one-on-one with the best defensemen in the league every weekend, in his first full professional season, Sowers solidified himself as one of the best attackmen in the pros as well as a gritty competitor when the game matters most.

“He’s one of the best lacrosse players in the world. There’s no doubt about it,” remarked head coach Andy Copelan. “He’s only in his second year. This kid has a huge professional future.”

With quick feet, top-tier dodging skills, natural athleticism, and a high lacrosse IQ with what sometimes seems like perfect vision from nearly every angle on the field, Sowers shined on the big stage. 

Back in early July after the Waterdogs earned their first win of the regular season coincidentally to the Chaos, Sowers reiterated to me a sentiment he learned from Coach Copelan and the veteran leaders on this Waterdogs team like Kieran McArdle, Zach Currier, and captain Steven DeNapoli about improving with each game every week. 

“What’s cool is this is only week four and we still have ways to go in terms of the group and chemistry wise, and I think that’s one of the most exciting things. We’re just going to keep getting better and better every week.” 

With the group and chemistry at its peak and the bright lights on them, it’s safe to say the Dogs lived up to that sentiment in the all-important final week.

“We knew that day one was going to look a lot different than day sixty - our lowest output of the season was week one,” said Sowers. “It was just this general trust for one another that developed every week. Everybody wanted what was best for the group, nobody was selfish. We knew it was all going to come together in time.”

Sowers embodied that unselfish mindset and the importance of sharing the ball from the get-go throughout the Waterdogs’ playoff run. His first point of the postseason came off his slick feed from goal line extended to McArdle on the other end to get the Waterdogs on the board in the quarterfinals first versus the Atlas.

Lethal as both a passer and a shooter, in the semifinals rematch against the Whipsnakes, Sowers put the Waterdogs up early with two goals back-to-back to open the game. Matched up with one of the best defenders in the league in Matt Dunn, even Dunn couldn’t keep up with the speed and skill of Sowers.

With the first half hat trick in the semifinals, Sowers tweaked his hamstring and found himself slowed down for the remainder of the game, an injury that followed him into championship week. 

“Coming out of the Whipsnakes game, I was having a hard time even walking so I really didn’t know what this last week was going to look like,” he said. “Typically I’ll be out on the field three or four times during the week leading up to a game. Last week I wasn’t really on the field at all - I was focused on PT and just trying to get myself right physically for Sunday.” 

Listed as “questionable” on the championship game injury report, Sowers told the media on Friday he was at 100%.

“I didn’t want to say anything and give the Chaos anything,” he laughed. “But I was originally pretty nervous about it and it was definitely a day-to-day thing, but I was able to progress throughout the week thanks to the help of my PT. We got a great plan in place, and honestly by Sunday I felt great.” 

Matched up one-on-one against Jack Rowlett, Sowers needed to be 100% and firing from all cylinders. 

A gritty and physical athlete himself, Rowlett alongside Chrome’s JT Giles-Harris are the only two defenders with the speed to match feet with Sowers. Sowers recorded four points with two goals and two assists in the Waterdogs’ regular season matchup against the Chaos with Rowlett on him, familiar with their distinctive style of defense.

“The Chaos play a unique style of defense in that they don’t slide too much, and they rely on Blaze a lot to force you to take those low-angle shots. Rowlett’s a great athlete and great defender and they’ve got great guys all over that end of the field with Blaze to clean up any mistakes they might make,” Sowers remarked. 

As great as their backend may be, for the Waterdogs, their focus remained on themselves and what worked for them all season long.

“We focused on what we do well, which is sharing the ball and playing within our role-oriented offense. Some days it just might happen that the ball comes around to me and I’m the one with a bunch of points, other days it’s Kieran, or it’s the midfields like CK [Connor Kelly] and Conrad. The point is we played unselfishly as we always do and never got too far away from who we are.”

With Rowlett going toe-to-toe with him, the hometown kid produced as a dodger. He was selective but smart with his opportunities. 

In the third quarter with a short stick on him, he netted a buzzer-beater at the shot clock for his second goal of the game to give the Waterdogs a two-goal lead. 

Sowers’ buzzer-beater was the first time the Waterdogs had been up on the Chaos by more than a goal all game, and from there on, the Dogs never lost their lead.

His first major championship win, Sowers got to share the moment with over fifty of his family and friends.

“It was really special, I definitely felt their presence on the field. This was the first game of my pro career where really everyone was able to travel - parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, everyone. It really meant a lot.”

Up in Section 104 of the stadium, the Sowers group sported jerseys, made signs, and chanted for their favorite Philadelphia lacrosse player from the second the Waterdogs took the field, to when the clock hit zero in the final quarter. 

In the PLL’s second trip to Subaru Park for the title game, a tradition seems to be growing amongst the Philly natives when it comes to the championship game. 

Sowers joined Whipsnakes’ attackman Matt Rambo as the second Philadelphia native to win the Championship MVP in front of the home crowd. Rambo took it home back in the PLL’s inaugural season in 2019, with three goals and three assists against the Redwoods, including the infamous game-tying goal in the fourth to send the game into overtime.  

While Rambo’s long now been established as one of the best attackmen in the pros, as Coach Copelan said, the best is yet to come for Sowers. With his first championship win under his belt, his sights are set once again onto next season. 

“You start working now to go and repeat it,” he said. 

Like his favorite Philly athlete Allen Iverson, there’s not many who work as hard at their craft and give it their all like Michael Sowers. A selfless player and generational talent, things are just getting started for this Philly kid.