The Stag in the Woods
By Jake Watts | Apr 30, 2020
The origin of lacrosse is documented but not reiterated enough. Legend tells of a great game between the four-legged animals and the winged birds. Each creature, big or small, contributed a unique skill and played their role for the collective. While all species were important to their group's success, the deer, in particular, was invaluable to its team. The spirit of the deer lives on today and he roams the woods.
No one in the league epitomizes the spirit of the deer like the Stag himself, Redwoods LC’s Brent Adams. Contrary to the traditional role of the quarry, Adams is a menace in the open plains. His aggressive playstyle embodies that of the predator rather than prey.
The 40 yards of grass in between the arcs is Adams’ domain. The former Fairfield University Stag gives Redwoods LC an advantage in transition and he is a man possessed once the ball is in his stick. Watch as he blows past Dan Eipp, winner of the fastest player competition, and proceeds to sting top-shelf.
“That’s speed boi”
Modern Day Game
The shortened field and abbreviated shot clock undoubtedly increases pace of play in the PLL. There are more shots, goals, and possessions per minute than the average NCAA match. The modern rules make transition, arguably, the most important aspect of the pro game. Look no further than net fast-break efficiency (delta of offensive and defensive fastbreak efficiency). The non-playoff teams were last and second-to-last in this metric last season.
Redwoods LC loved to get out and run after a save or turnover throughout 2019. The club averaged 10 fast break possessions per game and Adams was an integral part of their strategy. His footspeed matched that of his shot speed. Below he cans a stick side high heater off a nifty behind the back pass from Eddy Glazener.
The league is tailor-made for two-way midfielders and athletes who can turn defense to offense are at a premium in the PLL. Adams is widely regarded as the most dangerous threat in the open field and he amassed six transition goals last season (most among midfielders). By playing both ways, Adams creates opportunities in unsettled situations, both in fast break and substitution.
Speedy players operate better in space and the best time to take advantage of space is during substitution. Like the deer, Adams’ top speed wholly depends on the situation. Watch as he trots up the field, surveys the landscape, pretends to retreat, then swiftly bolts across the top once the adjacent defender vacates his position. The seemingly non-threatening situation ends with the goalie scooping the ball out of the net.
Adams' play style and shooting range puts a ton of pressure on opposing teams. The midfielder ranks in the top five amongst his position in farthest average shot distance (13.5 Yards).
His range forces longer slides which leaves defenders hesitant to abandon their attackman. Last year, he consistently punished teams that didn’t slide. Next season, defenses will likely make an adjustment and will force the ball out of his stick. Adams is primed to increase his assist opportunities in both unsettled and settled situations alike.
It is no secret that Adams has the athleticism to run by most of his matchups. Last year, that speed was underutilized in six-on-six. The midfielder only created five shots for teammates in settled opportunities. This season we could see an emphasis on him initiating the offense more. His near unstoppable dodge can create movement in the defense and open up shooting lanes for his teammates.
Speed is an unteachable skill that is highly valued in lacrosse. The advantage of speed is most noticeable in transition and athletes like Adams make the game so exciting to watch. In a blink he can create something out of nothing. The Stag is writing his own legend that younger generations will talk about for years to come.