Three Chrome Lacrosse Club Training Camp Battles to Keep an Eye On

By Nick Zoroya

May 24, 2023

As the Chrome LC heads into camp this Saturday there are three key areas to keep an eye on when it comes to roster construction. As it stands five players will be cut from each team on Tuesday 5/30, which means players have just three days to prove themselves deserving of a spot.

Myers vs Morrill

At attack the team returns stalwarts Logan Wisnauskas and Dylan Molloy but are without Brendan Nichtern for at least three games. This means that there is a starting spot at X available for at least three weeks. Coach Tim Soudan has made it clear that he thinks Jackson Morrill can handle the job, but the addition of Jack Myers through the draft means that the job must be earned not given. 

In 2021, Morrill played primarily at attack scoring 22 points in his nine games. During the 2022 season he shifted to midfield where he was less effective, scoring 8 points in 10 games. The kicker here is that if Myers doesn’t start at attack the plan is to test him at midfield, whereas if Morrill doesn’t win the attack spot, he’s not likely to have a spot in this year's deepend midfield.

Log Jam at Midfield

The training camp roster has 10 midfielders taking reps on offense. The midfield group can be split into two categories: Locked In, Something to Prove. Returners Justin Anderson, Colin Heacock, Jordan and MacIntosh along with offseason additions Jesse King and fifth overall pick Sam Handley are virtual locks to make the team. Without blinking an eye we’re already at five midfielders. The players with something to prove, who are essentially fighting for one offensive spot, are Chrome veterans Kevin Rogers and Cole Williams, along with draftees Cross Ferrara and Jack Myers.

In 2022 Kevin Rogers played in five games securing four points, Cole Williams played four games securing seven points. Both midfielders have had a chance to prove themselves or they could see themselves passed by the next wave of talent.

That next wave of talent includes two attackmen that are likely to play midfield at the professional level. Jack Myers has been the guy at Ohio State for several years and moving to midfield may be just the thing he needs to rekindle the scoring touch he’s seen in past seasons. He has the skill set and stature to succeed in the PLL. Cross Ferrara is a certified scorer who is smashing every point record DIII has ever seen. He adds a shiftier presence in the midfield that no other player on the roster has. He’s also a guy that can score in several different ways, whereas many of the other guys on the roster are a bit more one-dimensional.

Lastly, and perhaps most interesting is that Mike Messenger will be getting a chance to play offense. He proved himself last season as a versatile defensive midfielder that had a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Coach Soudan went as far as saying, “He won two games for us last year."

It’s safe to say that Messenger has shown enough to convince the coaching staff that he may be more than capable on the offensive end. This is a win-win situation for Messenger because his versatility makes him a virtual lock, so even if he doesn’t quite earn a job on the offensive end, he’ll settle into the same role he had last season.

Now or Never for Long Poles

The Chrome LC heads to camp with ten poles. Of those ten, five played every game in 2022: Mike Manley, Jesse Bernhardt, JT Giles-Harris, Eli Salama, and Nick Grill. When looking at how Tim Soudan constructed his gameday roster, he carried three close defensemen and two long-stick midfielders (LSM). The plan at the moment is to keep the core of Manley, Bernhardt, and Giles-Harris at close. Nick Grill will be playing primarily LSM but will bump down as needed. He’s played out of position during his PLL career but given the age of players starting in front of him at close (Bernhardt 32, Manley 34), it’s believed that Grill will eventually move down low.

Eli Salama is the incumbent and favorite for the second LSM spot. He’s been with the team since 2020 and while his play was consistent last season, Coach Soudan brought in some considerable talent to compete for his spot. Coming to camp are second round draft pick Troy Hettinger and undrafted free agent John Geppert. Both players were elite college but the question remains, how will that game translate to the professional level. Geppert played at Maryland under defensive coordinator Jesse Bernhardt, who is now his teammate. Hettinger is a Jacksonville product that played under former Chrome LC goalie John Galloway. Each player came with glowing recommendations from people Coach Soudan trusts.

While there likely won't be a starting spot at close defense available, Coach Soudan routinely used one of his reserve spots for a pole. This is an important role as this reserve player practices with the team and is called upon when there is an injury, sickness, etc. Last year Ryan McNulty was a reserve several times but ultimately never dressed. That role this year could be filled by Greg Weyl, Gibson Smith IV, or one of the two LSM’s who didn’t earn a starting spot. Weyl is a seasoned pro who has proven in the past that he can handle a starting role and he’s also a lefty which could be an asset in certain matchups.  

Everything I write comes with the caveat that Coach Soudan will always start the best player, so if a player comes to camp and absolutely dominates, every starting spot is up for grabs.

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