Chaos Raiders Culture

What Makes Chaos The Raiders of The PLL

By Daniel May

Jul 31, 2023

When the Chaos walked out of the locker room tunnel at Audi Field for the 2021 Championship game versus the Whipsnakes, fans booed them. 

Last season in Philadelphia, against the Waterdogs, the same thing happened. 

For people from the outside looking in, in a league with no city allegiances, it’s hard to believe that’s a reality. But given the identity Chaos have created, it becomes clear. 

“The fact that the fans are passionate enough to boo a team that is in the championship I think speaks volumes about how hard our guys play and certainly is reflective of the style that we play,” said Andy Towers.

“You look at our team and it’s so diverse and so different," said Jarrod Neumann, Captain and member of Chaos since 2019. “We don't dress or act like your cookie cutter lacrosse kids, we act like who we are as individuals then we bring our own flair out to the game.”

That flair has led to a play style and personality of the group highlighted by swagger and physicality, “which can come off as abrasive,” says Towers. 

“I think it's made us a little bit edgy and we try to be conscious of playing with a little bit of a bully element to our game. That's not a knock on any other team, it's just something that our locker room embraces,” he added. 

Towers likes to call them "The Raiders of the PLL," coming up with the name because of the similarities between the Chaos and the iconic Oakland Raiders from the 1980s.

“We felt like it was appropriate given the style of play of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders in the 80s and our current style of play in the PLL… Canadian slick up front and redneck tough in the back. Risk-taking offensive players combined with a**-beating defenders” said Towers.

SportsCenter Top-10 behind the back goals, a brick wall between the pipes, a d-mid core that you don’t need to slide to, and a star-studded group of long poles who take a piece of opponents with every check. The list can go on, but this team has unique elements that are characteristics of the flair their Raiders mantra personifies. 

They embrace their authenticity as a group and have an identity around it going back to the inception of the league. 

How Chaos created its identity

It all started back in 2019 when the initial rosters were announced for the six incoming teams.

Each group had a built-in identity based on where their players went to school and past MLL teams. Whipsnakes and Maryland, Atlas and Johns Hopkins, Redwoods and Notre Dame, Chrome and Rochester Rattlers, and the Archers and Ohio Machine.

Chaos, on the other hand, was a little bit different.

“Our team was really a team potluck. You know, it was kind of a bunch of misfits from a bunch of different schools and there was no sort of inherent connection there,” said Andy Towers.

Of the nine remaining members from the 2019 team, the list of schools goes Conestoga College, JUCO to Hofstra, Providence, a couple of guys from Albany, Yale (before they won a national championship), Division-3 Neumann University, Army, Dartmouth, and UNC.

Chaos were tasked to create their own identity. With no prior infrastructure to rely on, it gave them the unique ability to create a brand new identity based on their different yet shared experiences. 

Chaos have no Tewaaraton winners and the least number of USILA First-Team All-Americans out of any team in the PLL: three. Having a chip on their shoulder and being overlooked became central to that message. 

“When you go somewhere and you have these fans boo you it’s because we're not your prototypical lax players, right? Like a lot of us didn't go to these big universities, a lot of us didn't play in May, a lot of us didn't go to final fours,” said Neumann - a Providence alum who picked up a stick when he was 18 years old.

“We all have a chip on our shoulder and going through college we all have an unusual career path, which puts more of a chip on our shoulder. If you look at a guy like Dhane, he went to Conestoga College in Waterloo, ON, and didn't even play college lacrosse. I went to a small school [Robert Morris]; Josh started out at a Community College and then worked his way up to Hofstra. So, if you kind of look up and down our roster it's all kind of stories like that - under recruited coming out of high school and just kind of found a way,” said Ryan Smith

Speaking to numerous players on the team about their identity and message, they all repeat it. That made the group come together and created an identity forged upon a strong belief in the group regardless of outside opinion.

For Johnny Surdick, muting the voices of doubters outside the team is something that characterized his time at Army.

“We love being the underdog, we love being counted out. At Army, you know, we’re not in the top 20 pole, f***  it, I don’t care. It just fuels the fire. We’ll prove you wrong, it doesn't matter,” said Surdick.

Yet two drastically different organizations, that’s a strong parallel between both teams.  

“Same thing here from two years ago with the 2.8% chance to win [during the 2020 PLL bubble]. That just, almost in a joke-ish way [became part of our message], it was just like we don’t care. You don’t have to like us, think we’re the best team, we don’t care. We’re just going to go out there and play our game,” Surdick said proudly. 

That’s not to say the Chaos are oblivious to the fans they do have. Greatly appreciative and aware of the support from people who dawn their colors on the weekends. They still look to show anyone else not on the Chaos wave, you’ve made the wrong decision. 

“We appreciate the opinions of the people that support us, we value them. And the opinions of the people that don’t support us, we try to stick it to them. And that’s something that creates a lot of cohesion in our locker room.” said Towers.

That story made the group come together, hanging their hat on resiliency. Ultimately driving the team even close together. 

With half the season left to go, Chaos are looking closer to the final product quicker than ever before. The Raiders of the PLL look to leave their mark inching their way closer to that second championship when they take on the Whipsnakes at 5:30pm EST on ESPN+.

Avenging the boos felt from Whipsnakes fans and all during that championship game two years ago.

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