Predicting the Waterdogs’ 2024 Championship Series Roster
By Wyatt Miller | Nov 15, 2023
In the wake of a last-second championship loss, the Waterdogs will get their first shot at the Championship Series in February. Despite a heavy box influence, the ‘Dogs have tons of potential sixes stars who will be available in February.
Leading the offense, swift-footed Michael Sowers will excel in the close quarters of sixes. Jake Carraway exploded for Atlas in last year’s tournament for six 2-pointers in five games, and he’ll bring that dangerous outside presence to the Waterdogs this time around. Defensively, the ‘Dogs will be without many of the stars who propelled them to the top of the league this past season, including their starting goalie.
Here are my prediction for the Waterdogs’ Championship Series roster, which takes place in Washington D.C. from February 14-19:
Michael Sowers - This is a given. Ranking second on the team in points and assists this season, Sowers could be highlighted even more in sixes without veteran Kieran McArdle by his side. Sowers will undoubtedly be available and explosive come February. Expect to see Sowers unleashed in sixes.
Jake Carraway - Carraway’s skill set is ideal for the sixes format. Last February, he ranked top-10 in goals and top-3 in 2s on a pulled hamstring with Atlas. Georgetown’s all-time goals leader, has used a laser shot and quick footwork to get outrageous outside shots into the back of the net. With a fresh bill of health, Carraway has the potential to lead the entire tournament in scoring points. He will be the offensive X-Factor.
Ryan Conrad - Ryan Conrad will provide the ‘Dogs with some much-needed transition defense. Unlike Sowers and Carraway, Conrad is a connoisseur on both sides of the ball. Offensively, his ability to fight through contact on dodges will be valuable in this format. The UVA product slumped early last season, but showed up big down the stretch. He’ll look to continue that momentum into the Championship Series.
Jeff Conner - This summer, Jeff Conner served as a fill-in man of sorts. When injuries to the midfield piled up - whether it was Carraway, Jack Hannah, Connor Kelly or Thomas McConvey - Conner was the plug-in player. He excelled in that role, making impacts on both sides of the ball wherever possible. In the Champ Series, expect more of an offensive presence.
Mikie Schlosser (if healthy) - Even while sitting out this past season with a knee injury, Mikie Schlosser was the heart and soul of the Waterdogs. His light-hearted presence was infectious and will certainly continue to be so if he’s able to participate in sixes. Even if he isn’t on the roster, head coach Andy Copelan would likely consider keeping him around the clubhouse. His impact on morale is simply too significant to pass up, even if he’s not 100%.
Kyle Borda - Kyle Borda didn’t finish the season with the Waterdogs, but he’s a favorite of Copelan’s. The two have known each other since Copelan recruited Borda to Fairfield University. With significant offensive skill players unavailable, it would make sense for Copelan to give Borda a shot here. The only other available player that might compete for this spot is Jack Traynor, who had an injury designation through the end of the season.
Christian Scarpello - Christian Scarpello brings a unique energy to the game. Similar to Schlosser, his light-hearted personality transitions seamlessly into a competitive edge that invigorates the defense. His speed and vision in transition will give the Waterdogs significant scoring opportunities. Expect Scarpello to be an integral defender for the ‘Dogs during sixes.
Matt Whitcher - Even with his new gig as Dartmouth’s defensive coordinator, Matt Whitcher should be available for the Championship Series. The SSDM is one of the best transition shooters on the team and totaled six goals in 13 games last season. Copelan encourages Whitcher to push the pace and take shots on the run. That makes his skill set ideal for sixes, where the field is shortened and the lines between offense and defense are as blurred as ever.
Charlie Hayes - After not seeing the field in 2022, Charlie Hayes bet on himself and re-signed with the Waterdogs. He worked his way into the starting lineup early on and never looked back. The short stick’s lateral quickness keeps the most creative playmakers in front of him. He’s another player who causes turnovers with aggression and then excels in transition. Expect all three SSDMs to excel in sixes.
Jake Higgins - The four-person SSDM unit was hugely successful for the Waterdogs down the stretch. They will likely roll out that unit again in the Championship Series. Jake Higgins was the odd man out during the season when the Waterdogs dressed three SSDMs instead of four, but his physical impact was clear whenever he graced the field. This past season, he shoved 6-foot-5 attackman Sam Handley to the ground, giving the rookie a clear “welcome to the league” moment.
Matt DeLuca - Nobody is Dillon Ward, but Matt DeLuca is a starting-caliber PLL goalie. Copelan has expressed unwavering trust in DeLuca and will have no qualms about throwing him between the pipes during sixes. Sixes can be a challenge for goalies in particular, but DeLuca’s tall, athletic frame will serve him well. Expect a lot of success from the 6-foot-5 goalie.
Jason Rose - Without Ward, the ‘Dogs will likely pick up an emergency goalie from the player pool. Jason Rose would be a safe bet, as he occupied a roster spot when Ward was out this past season.
Jack Traynor - With Copelan’s longtime connection to Borda, I’d expect him to get the final offensive roster spot. That said, Traynor was on the roster longer and would be perfectly capable of filling that role.
Ben Randall - Copelan refers to Randall as the team’s top defender. He took the brunt of No. 1 matchups this past season and performed at an elite level. While Randall isn’t a safe bet to participate, his presence would give the ‘Dogs a massive boost on defense.