Training Camp Notebook Day 2
By Jake Watts | Jul 23, 2020
Day 2 of Training Camp came and went but not without highlight plays and flared tempers. Position battles heated up as the start of the tournament nears and certain guys stood out more than most while others played their way to second string. Here is the recap from an exciting day in Utah.
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- A couple of coaches have tough decisions on the most important position of the roster. The goalie competition was expected for the Waterdogs. Charlie Cipriano is Andy Copelan’s guy, but Matt Deluca’s play the last couple days can’t be ignored. The rookie has a massive frame, takes up a ton of cage, and is deceptively quick. He is seeing the ball really well and making difficult saves. His stance baits offensive players to shoot five-hole but blocks those shots with ease because he knows it’s coming.
Nobody expected the Goalie of the Year to be competing for minutes in year 2 but that all changed when Andy Towers selected Team Canada goalie, Dillon Ward. The newcomer is turning heads and making incredible plays at the start of camp. It would be hard to imagine Ward not seeing the field in the Championship Series.
- Romar Dennis has found a home. The promising midfielder looks comfortable and confident through four practices with Atlas. His primary role is shaping to be the step-down shooter on the outside. His shooting range causes issues for the defense even when he doesn't have the ball. With so many ball handlers on the field, he can bring the most value spacing wide which creates a longer slide. Of course he still has the untouchable shake in his bag when a defender has a poor approach. Dennis will have more goals than last year in fewer games.
- The Dhane Train is making no stops for anyone. Dhane Smith, a former MVP in the NLL, is looking the part for his field club. He has a natural chemistry with Curtis Dickson on the righty wing. They ran multiple two-man games that resulted in the ball finding the back of the net. Smith must have seen a soccer goal today because he could not miss. Not only did he finish in tight but also had 10-yard goals through traffic. He is playing himself into the starting midfield role alongside Jake Froccaro.
- “His IQ, ball movement, understanding of spacing, is gonna lead to easy goals…. He’s been a pleasant surprise with the range on his shot.” - Coach Chris Bates on newcomer Josh Currier
- “He’s tough and kinda persistent. He will be dangerous on the “Elbow” (The low wing). He’s gonna be a gluish guy that is gonna make plays and help us wing games. “- Bates on Christian Mazzone
- Mazzone will add a speed element to this offense. He will be doing a multitude of things for the club including playing defense and running in on the wing.
- “His strength is his ability to see the field, distribute and make guys better. He is showing the ability to create separation off dodges….. Guys are in his corner already”- Bates on rookie Grant Ament
- The buzz around camp is that Matt McMahon is looking huge. It’s a noticeable difference from last season. He definitely took advantage of the extra time in quarantine.
- Tempers were flaring and guys were getting after it. The whole practice was intense. Coaches were happy to see it and think it will help develop the bond.
- Rookie Bryan Costabile is playing solid D all over the field. He was holding his own against the attackmen and stopping middies in their tracks. He even knocked Connor Buczek on his backside.
- Cade van Raaphorst played great defense against Rob Pannell. He was pushing him off his line and not letting him get to his spots.
- Cloutier is a haus and has no regard for defenders. There were several times his face dodged his way to the middle of the crease for the finish. There is no pushing him away from the middle of the field.
- Connor Buczek is taking it to the next level. He hit multiple jaw-dropping shots, including his patented rollback off-hip shot.
- The ball is hot. The movement on offense is not what we saw last year. In 2019 the ball tended to get stuck in sticks. So far guys are catching it and moving it quickly to find the open guy.
- There is one guy that is standing out on the defensive end. Tyson Bell is guarding everyone on the field. Midfielders up top and attackman on the wing and at X. His play has been impressive. He is tough and very fast. He will play on the wing for Tommy Kelly. His box experience will be invaluable for picking up loose balls off the faceoff.
- Back to the goalie competition, Tyson Bell stated, “We have the two best goalies out here”
- The offense is firing on all cylinders. Every guy in the settled set is contributing in one way or another. Jesse King is owning the role of stepdown shooter from the outside. A piece they were missing last year. Chrome finished last in assisted goals last season.
- Matt Gaudet also adds a catch-and-shoot element to this offense. He can catch and finish in a phone booth, hardly needs any space to make a play. He is gaining the trust of his teammates quickly. His presence creates a gravitational pull even without the ball. Defenders cannot step too far away from him or he will make them pay. The rookie only needs half a second to shoot. He will be a menace on the crease this year. It is clear Gaudet has already locked up the starting attack position.
- “When you have that many new faces and new terminology it’s important to get on the same page. I think this format (week-long training camp) has been really important for us. Just to be able to have a classroom, have a film discussion, talking on the bus on the way over, the chatter has been more than it ever has. We felt pretty good where we are the past two days defensively.” - John Galloway
- “Arguably our best player is Will Haus, he is the best defender. When you have a guy like that you can trust it gives you a sense of confidence.” - Galloway on the importance of short stick d-mids.
- The defense was dominant and has not lost a step. They constantly had their sticks in the lane knocking down and picking off passes. You could hear the communication from a mile away.
- Tyler Dunn, “The Swiss Army Knife” is picking up pole and looks like a natural.
- Coach Nat runs a high-intensity practice. His team had the most offense vs. defensive drills.
- The offense is still trying to find its groove. There was a session where they went in a major slump and could not find the back of the net.
- Dan Eipp is looking aggressive and beating his matchups. He scored goals on the run and off the catch. Just like last year, he is getting to the middle of the field at will.
- Wes Berg and Ben McIntosh really stood out today with their accuracy. Both Canadians hit shots from outside and in tight.
- The starting attack line is forming. The unit looks to be Ryan Drenner, Kieran McArdle, and Ben Reeves.
- Brodie Merrill, BJ Grill, and Patrick Foley are taking the starter reps on the defensive end.
- Joe McCallion stood out the most in the practice I observed. He was making the gritty plays and scooping all the GBs.
- John Haus is the ultimate teammate. He was making the extra pass and setting the perfect picks.
- Ty Warner is playing very physical. When offensive players get too close to the middle of the field he throws a wrap and up check to turn the ball carrier back toward the sliding defender. This move caused several turnovers today.