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The Chrome Remodel

By Lauren Merola | Aug 31, 2022

Chrome debuted with the Premier Lacrosse League in 2019, but the team’s identity was established long before that.

Chrome’s core stemmed from the Rochester Rattlers of Major League Lacrosse. In 2019, Ned Crotty, John Galloway, Jordan MacIntosh, Mike Manley, John Ranagan, Jordan Wolf and Joel White left the Rattlers for Chrome. One year later, Tim Soudan, their Rattlers coach from 2011-2017, took his rightful place on the PLL sideline.

Their quest for a professional lacrosse title continued in new threads. Come 2021, for four of them, it would be their final championship chase.

Before the 2021 season, Galloway told Soudan it would be his last. On August 8, Galloway and White announced their retirement together, and Wolf and Crotty hung up their cleats the following April. Their 10-year tenure was over.

Fellow captains MacIntosh and Ranagan, along with Manley, are the remaining Rattlers on Chrome.

“It's been an adjustment for me,” MacIntosh said. “Those are four guys I’ve played with for over 10 years and four of my best friends. Everything was different this year. It’s a whole new crop of faces.”

After losing seasons in 2019 and 2020, Chrome’s veterans ran it back in 2021 for one last shot at a title with the core group. They wanted to come out on the winning side of a championship game, unlike the Rattlers’ 2014, 2015 and 2018 championship matchups.​​

But 2021 was quickly plagued with injuries.

Wolf and Randy Staats were ruled out for the season. JT Giles-Harris suffered a knee injury in his final game at Duke that kept him sidelined his entire rookie year. Jesse Bernhardt and Manley were in and out of the lineup with lingering injuries. The roster was again shaken up when Soudan traded star attackman Justin Guterding to the Whipsnakes for long-stick midfielder (LSM) Nick Grill.

“It became pretty clear to us, partially because of the injuries that occurred last year, how important it is to be young,” Soudan said.

Thus, Soudan set in motion Chrome’s “youth movement.” After an offseason that left uncertainty at every end of the field, Soudan turned to the 2022 College Draft. He picked up young players and made decisions that could put Chrome in immediate championship contention.

“As much as we were in a rebuilding situation, we wanted to be in a ‘win now’ situation,” Soudan said.

It worked. Chrome finished the 2022 season in second place at 7-3. The team plays seventh-seeded Chaos in the quarterfinals in Boston on Sept. 3.

Soudan’s main concern coming into the 2022 season was filling out the left side on attack. With the No. 1 pick, Soudan selected Logan Wisnauskas over the NCAA Division I men’s career points leader, Chris Gray.

“I really like Chris Gray’s game and he seemed like a clear favorite,” Soudan said. “As I watched Maryland on the road and I saw the different things that Logan was able to do and the size of his body, the length of his arms and all the different ways he could score… I thought, let’s just take the lefty who’s killing it and fills a need.”

Atlas coach Ben Rubeor selected Gray with the No. 2 pick, and Chrome was back on the clock seven picks later.

On May 10, while driving home to Long Island from Army, Brendan Nichtern got a congratulatory FaceTime call from his hometown best friend. Nichtern had spotty service throughout the drive, so he couldn’t keep up with the draft in real time.

“What team? What pick?” Nichtern asked his friend.

Soudan snagged Nichtern at No. 9.

“If Nichtern wasn’t at Army, he’d be in the conversation for the No. 1 pick,” Soudan said.

Initially, Nichtern said he thought he would be drafted sooner, but he knows not every coach is willing to take a chance on a player from Army. Nichtern has to take his professional lacrosse career year by year. Depending on his unit and job assignment, he may not be able to leave and travel on weekends in the future.

But Nichtern was the best left on the board, and he’d help Chrome win “now.”

Soudan got his lefty and X attackman, patching up the Guterding- and Wolf-sized holes on the roster. Wisnauskas scored 24 goals and had 11 assists during the season. Nichtern posted 16 goals and 22 assists.

Both are All-Stars. Both are Rookie of the Year candidates.

With his breakout season, another All-Star, Justin Anderson, erased any concern about Crotty’s departure. He posted 21 points in 2022, 10 more from last season.

“He’s our guy at the midfield,” MacIntosh said. “If we need someone to start the offense, we’re giving the ball to him. He can break down the short stick. He can break down the pole. He can draw the defense’s attention and if his hands are free, he can score. He’s our biggest downhill dodging threat. That really helps us stretch the defense and get guys like [Wisnauskaus] open for looks.”

Soudan started drafting for the future in 2021 when he took Anderson, rounded out the defensive midfield with Ryan Terefenko and added Chrome’s defensive cornerstone in Giles-Harris.

He also added Galloway’s replacement, taking Sean Sconone in the 2021 Entry Draft.

“Coach Soudo and I felt really strongly about Sean’s capacity,” Galloway said. “He was proven from the MLL and such an amazing teammate.”

In 2019, Sconone saved 168 shots in 14 games with the Dallas Rattlers. He saved 76 shots in five games with the Connecticut Hammerheads the following season. After joining the PLL, he dressed for nine games until taking over the reins in 2022.

When it came to the LSM vacancy, Soudan didn’t focus on replacing White.

No one could replace White.

“The spot that hurt us was not having a Joel White on the wings,” Soudan said. “That was a little bit scary to think how we were going to fill his shoes.”

The fifth all-time leader in ground balls (617), White grabbed a combined 86 ground balls during his two seasons on Chrome (2019, 2021). He also caused 13 turnovers in his final season at age 32.

While similar is not the same, Grill and Eli Salama hit the ground running for Chrome at LSM. Soudan said Salama “does a lot of the things Joel did well,” like getting the ball off the ground quickly and playing lockdown one-on-one defense.

In one year, Soudan turned Chrome’s roster on its head. New players filled familiar roles, but the more things changed, the more they stayed the same.

MacIntosh and Ranagan are still team captains. MacIntosh is still the passionate, demanding leader while Ranagan brings the optimism.

“People don’t know enough about Jordan and what he brings to the table as a leader,” Galloway said. “For John, he’s the opposite. He’s the Yin to Mac’s Yang. You need both. You need accountability but you also need lightheartedness.”

Nichtern said MacIntosh and Ranagan perfected the good cop-bad cop approach. After Chrome’s 14-13 loss to Atlas in Week 5, Nichtern said Ranagan told the team it was a tough loss but to be proud they’re 4-1. MacIntosh was tougher on the team, reminding everyone to keep up their workouts and sticks in their hands over upcoming the two-week break.

 “John and Jordan are two of the best leaders I’ve been around, and I think that means a lot coming out of Army because I’ve been around some tremendous leaders,” Nichtern said. “I knew on Day 1 I wanted to play for them, but I more wanted to win for them.”

Like how MacIntosh wanted to win for Galloway, who credits his 15-year career to White, who kept running for Ranagan, who still suits up for Manley. 

“Together” was the Rattlers, and is the Chrome, way.

For how much reconstruction the roster underwent in the last year, it hasn’t changed in over 10 weeks. There have been no major injuries, trades or retirements. That – the roster continuity – is a main factor in Chrome’s success, allowing the group to build upon its chemistry week after week.

“It’s very rare your team in the locker room today is going to be the same group the next year,” MacIntosh said. “You probably only have one opportunity with every team. Some guys retire, some guys might get hurt, some guys might get traded… Right now, we’ve got this mentality that we have this opportunity to have three more weeks to spend together and we don’t want to cut any corners to not make that happen.”

Soudan can pack up his toolbox for now. Chrome is young, healthy and winning.

And doing it all with a smile.

Galloway said the Rattlers were built on the foundation of enjoying moments as a team. Every canceled flight, broke-down bus or hotel mishap they endured over the past 10 years would be OK, as long as they were together.

“That’s what the Rats were, and the Rats have turned into this Chrome identity, which is a different team name but it’s the same pulse,” Galloway said.

It’s rubbed off on the rookies, too.

“I didn’t really know how long I wanted to play coming into the season, but after being in this locker room, I’m definitely going to play as long as I can,” Nichtern said. “I love every weekend. Seeing these guys, I just don’t see it ever getting old.”

At this point in the season, each team is only guaranteed one more game, but that’s not enough time for MacIntosh. He wants to finish what he, Soudan and the Rattlers started 11 years ago.

He wants a championship.