Pathway to PLL: The Brendan Krebs Story

By Adam Lamberti | Aug 18, 2023

Because the PLL only has eight teams, the player pool holds a ton of talent that may never suit up on a gameday roster.

And when you’re a goalie, the opportunities only decrease. 

But if you do get one, you have to make the most of it. That’s exactly what Brendan Krebs has done following Kyle Bernlohr’s injury in Week 5.

After taking over the starting role the next week, Krebs has had double-digit saves in each game, capped by a 17-save outing last week to clinch a playoff spot for the Whipsnakes.

For anyone that’s close to Krebs, including former Manhattan Head Coach John Odierna, Krebs’ performance comes as anything but a surprise. Dating back to freshman year in 2018, Odierna and the rest of the coaching staff knew they had something special in Krebs.

“We played Bryant in the opening game and we were down a lot of goals, like 8-1 after the 1st quarter or something like that,” Odierna said. “We were starting a senior and then we were like ‘You know what? Let’s give Brendan a shot here’. And then he came in and played really, really well.”

The next year, Krebs took over as the starting keeper as a sophomore and from there on out, he was consistently recognized as one of the best goalies in the MAAC conference.

Despite the in-conference accolades, Krebs was overlooked for probably that exact reason - he played in the MAAC. And while some goalkeeper metrics consistently ranked him as one of the top goalies in the nation in 2019 and 2020, he wasn’t nationally recognized across lacrosse media.

So perhaps all Krebs needed was to be seen on the national stage. Luckily for him, Manhattan’s first game of 2022, Krebs’ 5th year, came against Duke on ESPN+.

While he knew playing professionally was a dream he very well could achieve, it got more tangible after Krebs had 19 saves that day, doing his best to keep it close for Manhattan early before Duke eventually pulled away.

Following the performance, Krebs appeared as a draft prospect on Paul Caracaterra’s Big Board  in April and started to pick up steam as one of the top goalies in the class.

“I think [Paul] Carcaterra called the game and gave me a little bit of appreciation online which got a little bit of traction going,” Krebs said.

So it was no surprise that upon leaving Manhattan in May Krebs was invited to training camp with the Whipsnakes, but was released to the player pool shortly after on June 1 when rosters had to be cut down.

After not playing any games in 2022, Krebs was picked up to play with the Archers in the inaugural Championship Series.

Despite a good showing, the Archers opted to sign Nick Washuta heading into the 2023 summer season, the other goalie on the Archers Champ Series roster, instead of Krebs.

Luckily for Krebs, he had spoken to Whipsnakes Head Coach Jim Stagnitta before leaving the Champ Series.

“Coach [Stagnitta] and I talked down in Virginia and he asked me if the Archers had said anything,” Krebs said. “He asked if I wanted to play for them and have an opportunity to be on the roster and I said, 'Yeah, 100% - any opportunity is what I want’.”

For a regular fan, it seemed that the writing was on the wall for Krebs to be released again by the Whipsnakes on June 1. After all, he was released this time last season by the Whipsnakes, who have one of the best goalies in the league in Kyle Bernlohr and a very capable backup in Brian Phipps.

But Krebs wasn’t released. He was kept on the 25-man roster by Stagnitta, the only coach to keep three goalies on the roster heading into the season.

So while Phipps finished out the game following Bernlohr’s injury in Week 5, it shouldn’t have been a huge surprise that Krebs started the next week given the fact the Whipsnakes kept Krebs around, clearly for a reason. 

And now that reason is starting to pay off. Krebs is not only playing well, but maybe up there with some of the best goalies in the PLL right now.

“I think it’s really cool too because he’s just worked really hard and everytime I talk to him, I always tell him ‘Remember, you put you here. You’ve earned this opportunity’,” Odierna said. “I think he’s playing with a lot of confidence right now and doing what we got to watch a lot of in our time in the Bronx together.”

Bernlohr’s timeline from injury remains unclear, same as the Whipsnakes goalie situation if and when he does return. But for now, the Whipsnakes are clearly in good hands with Krebs who is playing himself into a starting role next season, whether that be with the Whipsnakes or another team.