Atlas Lacrosse Club offensive coordinator Steven Brooks addresses the team at halftime

The Whiteboard Wizard: How Steven Brooks Drew Up Atlas LC’s Game-Winner

By Joe Keegan

PLL Analyst

Jun 11, 2023

Atlas LC defeated Whipsnakes LC for the first time ever, 12-11, on Saturday.

Offensive coordinator Steven Brooks drew up not one, but two, successful out-of-timeout plays against the Whipsnakes’ defense – each with options and wrinkles we’re bound to see throughout the summer.

With 19 seconds remaining in the first half, Brooks put the ball in 2023 Golden Stick winner Romar Dennis’ crosse. Romar ran off a pick from Bryan Costabile, who immediately rolled into a righty mumbo with Chris Gray. The seal from Gray gave Costabile plenty of space to finish off the feed from Jeff Teat.

That play showcases Atlas’ field balance. Gray and Costabile can stretch defenses from the righty wing. Romar needs to be picked up near midfield. Eric Law and Xander Dickson warrant faceguards around the doorstep. And Teat can hit any of them on the ear from his lefty wing.

But Atlas still trailed 9-8 at halftime.

Brooks knew they’d need one more play. This game – like most PLL games – was destined to come down to the final possession. Early in the fourth quarter, he walked over to the whiteboard to jot down an idea.

“The guys looked at me like, ‘What are you doing?’” laughed Brooks. “I was like, ‘I’m just making sure I’m planned and ready for the end of the game.’”

The play is one Brooks has been running for years.

“The Whips are a very sound defense,” said Brooks. “What can we do to get motion going with off-ball picks and disguise our look? Make them think, Romar’s gonna pop or Costabile’s gonna pop or Dickson and Lawsy’s gonna cut.”

All that misdirection was meant to set up one hero: Chris Gray, who was 0-for-9 shooting at the time.

“I did not realize [Gray] was 0-for-9 shooting,” recalled Brooks. “I just know the type of competitor that he is. And I know his capability dodging from behind with speed.”

“He’s a special player,” said Teat. “There’s never a point in the game or in the season where we’re not going to go to him.”

After a dummy dodge down the alley and a wave of off-ball picks, Gray caught the ball at X ready to run off a pick from Costabile. This is why Atlas LC drafted the NCAA’s all-time leading point scorer with the second overall pick in 2022. As dangerous as Gray is above the cage ripping stepdowns or hitching around defenders, his ability to create his own shot is what makes him special. When he gets topside, it’s over.

“He’ll tell you he didn’t shoot it well today,” said Mike Pressler, Atlas LC head coach and general manager. “But at the end of the day, Chris made that play at the end and beat the goalie to that off-stick high spot.”

“1-for-10 is perfect for me when that one is a game-winner,” said Brooks.

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