Mike Pressler looks to fill a ‘light’ Atlas midfield during 2023 Draft
By Lauren Merola
May 1, 2023
The young Bulls are only getting younger.
Atlas, a team that built its core through recent drafts, holds the first- and third-overall picks in the 2023 Premier Lacrosse League Draft. It also has the 11th, 19th and 27th selections.
Those first few picks are going to be spent upgrading Atlas’ midfield lines. Last season, Romar Dennis, Dox Aitken and Brendan Curry swerved in and out of the lineup as Bryan Costabile was the only two-way midfielder to dress in all 10 games. Atlas coach Mike Pressler said Romar Dennis solidified a weekly appearance in the 2023 lineup during the Championship Series where Dennis netted 15 two-bombs, adding four single-point goals and four assists. He took home the Golden Stick trophy for his series-leading 34 scoring points.
Atlas also signed five-year veteran Justin Guterding to a one-year deal, adding depth and experience in the midfield.
With work to be done, Pressler said “one of those top two picks” Atlas holds will “for sure” be used to draft a midfielder. Paul Carcaterra, an ESPN lacrosse analyst, named Notre Dame’s Brian Tevlin and Quinn McMahon as the top two-way midfielders in the draft. Virginia’s Jeff Conner and Duke’s Garrett Leadmon rank three and four, respectively.
“Do you take the best player available or look to fill holes in the lineup?” Pressler said. “I think we’ll have some kind of blend to that: taking the best player available at a specific position where we need immediate help.”
The Atlas attack in no way requires emergency assistance. Led by Jeff Teat, Chris Gray and Eric Law, the unit put up a combined 101 points last season. Gray and Teat each assisted each other five times during the 2022 season. They connected on 10 goals total, which ranked the second most among teammates in 2022.
“You go back to our team, we’re a little bit light and inconsistent in the midfield, obviously if you’re thinking offense, our attack is right there,” Pressler said. “With Teat certainly the best player in the indoor league and could be the best offensive player in the game. Eric Law is the straw that stirs the drink. Chris Gray is just a young up-and-comer at that position, too.”
Atlas’ later draft picks could be used to build depth on defense even though the Bulls’ starting three – Tucker Durkin, Michael Rexrode and Cade van Raaphorst – stand sturdy. Specialty positions, in the goal and at the faceoff X, are also solid. Trevor Baptiste won the 2022 MVP award after winning 69.9 percent of faceoffs and 83 ground balls. Goalie Jack Concannon proved he is the best from short range, saving roughly 51 percent of doorstep shots over his career, while the League average hovers around 37 percent.
“I think it’s a really strong draft at the faceoff X, but obviously with Trevor Baptiste, the MVP, that’s not one of our draft picks,” Pressler said. “We got that one covered. I think we can all agree on that.”
The midfield is the region of the field holding Atlas back from a deep playoff run. With the right additions, the Bulls are poised to charge through their past postseason slumps.
The Premier Lacrosse League 2023 College Draft starts at 7 p.m. ET on May 9. Watch all 32 picks of the draft live from ESPN Studios on ESPNU or ESPN+.