Michael Sowers Team USA
Photo courtesy of Kait Devir.

Waterdogs Power Team USA to World Championships Gold

By Wyatt Miller

Jul 3, 2023

Statistically, Waterdogs carried the Team USA offense to a gold medal in the World Lacrosse Championship, winning their second title in the last 10 months. Waterdogs accounted for 47% of Team USA’s total goals, which is an outrageous percentage for only four offensive players among the best talent in the world. 

Every game, one or more Waterdogs players were leading the charge offensively. Head coach Andy Copelan can only hope these breakout performances transfer over to the PLL, so they can jolt what’s been an inconsistent offense to start the season. 

Here’s a breakdown of the ‘Dogs’ contributions – both progressively and individually – to Team USA: 

Pool Play:

  • All 5 Waterdogs scored (even defender Liam Byrnes)
  • Michael Sowers: 1 of 2 players who scored in every game
  • Kieran McArdle: Led team in goals (7) and tied for lead in points (14)
  • Waterdogs accounted for 21/47 USA goals (45%)


  • Conner Kelly led the team in goals (4)
  • Sowers and McArdle tied for the team lead in assists (3)
  • Ryan Conrad scored 3 goals
  • Waterdogs accounted for 10/19 USA goals (53%)


  • Conrad, McArdle and Sowers led the team in goals (2 each)
  • Of the 4 players who scored multiple points, 3 were Waterdogs
  • Conrad, McArdle and Sowers reach 10 total goals apiece, leading the team
  • Waterdogs accounted for 7/11 USA goals (64%)


  • McArdle: Only player to record both a goal and assist (1 each)
  • Sowers: 1 of 2 players with multiple goals (2)
  • Waterdogs accounted for 3/4 USA goals (75%) scored by PLL players
  • Waterdogs accounted for 3/10 USA goals (30%)

Kieran McArdle

Stat line: 11 goals (3rd), 9 assists (2nd), 20 points (t-1st)

Ever-dependable, yet always overlooked. It seems like no matter how good McArdle gets, he’ll never receive the respect he deserves. From throwing no-look assists to scoring second-half hat tricks, McArdle has done a little bit of everything for Team USA.

McArdle scored Team USA’s final three goals – all unassisted – against Haudenosaunee in a 9-7 win. In the fourth quarter of a one-goal game, McArdle was the one who delivered amongst the greatest in the world. 

Michael Sowers

Stat line: 12 goals (2nd), 5 assists (t-3rd), 17 points (4th)

Michael Sowers went soaring through the crease as usual. With this goal against Australia, Sowers encapsulated why his offensive presence is so commanding. After absolutely embarrassing the short stick on the dodge, he flew through the crease to score over the goalie’s head, and several defenders made business decisions at the crease.

If Sowers has yet to contact the Jordan Brand to create an “Air Sowers” lacrosse gear line, it should be on his to-do list. 

Ryan Conrad

Stat line: 10 goals (4th), 12 points (6th)

Despite not starting in a single game, Conrad was a consistent scoring threat throughout the tournament. He created shot opportunities and didn’t miss many of them, as his 71.4% shot percentage led all players with more than one shot. 

This well-placed bouncer found the back of the net after Conrad spun free from Waterdogs teammate Christian Scarpello.

Although Conrad has scored just one point in two games for the ‘Dogs, the aggressiveness he’s shown on Team USA should be a sign of things to come for the fifth-year midfielder.

Connor Kelly

Stat line: 7 goals (t-7th), 9 points (7th)

Kelly got hot late in the tournament, but at the perfect time (kind of like his 9-point performance for the Waterdogs versus Atlas). Against Israel in the quarterfinals, Kelly scored a natural hat trick in just 83 seconds, capped off by this catch-and-shoot goal off the turf as time ticked down to half.

One of the hottest players in the league right now, Kelly continued smoking corners from a distance during international play. He currently leads the PLL in two-point goals and ranks third in points. 

Liam Byrnes

Stat line: 7 GBs (t-5th), 1 goal (1 of 2 defenders to score)

Liam Byrnes and Michael Erhardt were the only USA defenders to score a goal, fitting with the theme of his Waterdogs teammates. 

Yet, Byrnes’ real contribution stemmed from his ties to defensive coordinator Joe Amplo, who coached him at Marquette. Seven years after building the Golden Eagles into Big East champions from scratch, they nurtured a gold-medal defensive unit by employing the same work-oriented unity among the players. 

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