What makes Zach Currier the most complete midfielder in the world?
Zach Currier’s first exposure to American-style field lacrosse was at Culver Military School in Indiana. Growing up in Peterborough, Ontario, Currier said he played a “gritty” brand of box lacrosse growing up. In fact, the reason his dad put him into lacrosse at 8 years old was to toughen him up for hockey, he told USA Lacrosse. When they started on the field, Currier said they “basically played box lacrosse on a field.”
“When we started playing field lacrosse, we put the most well-rounded players at midfield so they could be on the field as much as possible,” Currier said. “I was just able to keep up on both sides of the ball since then.”
When he reached high school at Culver, they only had 25 players on their team, including six total midfielders. Naturally, Currier was the one to step up. He took faceoffs, played both sides of the ball and became one of the highest-sought recruits in the sport.
Nothing changed at Princeton. Currier took draws, played on the wing, and was proficient on both ends. That overwhelming presence led him to stardom with the Denver Outlaws before he was head coach Andy Copelan’s first overall pick in the 2020 PLL Entry Draft.
Currier has played the do-it-all role at every level, and the new rules this season have increased the impact of his versatility. In the semifinal win, Currier’s production epitomized his value. He went 12-for-17 at the stripe, picked up 13 ground balls, caused a turnover and added four points on two goals. He was the undisputed catalyst for the Dogs in their 17-6 rout of the Cannons.
Everything starts with the faceoff, and Currier owned the stripe throughout this game, using different releases to create instant offense. Between four different Cannons specialists, nobody had an answer for him.
After a transition goal from Charlie Hayes in the third quarter, Currier went back to the stripe. He escaped with a toss-and-scoop to his left, getting a step on opposing faceoff man, Kyle Hartzell. Scooping it up with his right hand, Currier streaked down the left alley and sent a sidearm bullet into the top right corner, beating Brett Dobson across his body.
He then thrust his arms out in celebration, as if to say, “what can’t I do?” What the broadcast actually said was, “this guy is the game-tilter.” If he’s on in every aspect, there’s not much a coach or single player can do to stop him. Who do you ask to defend a player who rarely leaves the field?
Later in the third, with the Dogs up 14-3, Currier just kept piling on. Hartzell tried to interrupt the escape on the clamp, but Currier flipped it to himself and advanced to his right, Hartzell pestering him all the way into Cannons territory.
With just his right hand on the stick, Currier scanned the field on the right of the arc. Kieran McArdle blew past his man, and Currier casually flipped him the ball as they crossed each other’s path. McArdle finished it through the five hole to put the Dogs up.
This play is peak Currier. He casually advanced with the ball, never even put his left hand on his stick and came up with an assist in eight seconds. His intelligence and ball-handling skills are so elevated from years of playing all over the field along with a fast-paced box lacrosse environment.
Currier won most faceoffs forward, and established himself as an immediate threat. When the Waterdogs have wanted to win faceoffs this season, they always have a plan to get the offense going quickly. Whether it’s a substitution, pick play or just a solo dodge, Currier is often the initiator, tasked with making the right play to execute on the short clock.
All the Intangibles
The thing that got lost on Currier’s second goal of this game was the screen he set for Michael Sowers beforehand. From X, Currier’s screen caught Jack Kielty by surprise and he got the slide onto the short stick, Jeff Trainor. When Kielty looked back to Sowers in case he needed to slide back on, Currier took advantage of the momentary distraction.
He cut down to the doorstep and Sowers fired a no-look pass. Although it was high and behind Currier, he turned to collect and tap it down to beat Colin Kirst to his left in one fluid, airborne motion.
This pick is what made the play happen. If Sowers doesn’t draw the short stick matchup, then Currier’s defender wouldn’t have had half his mind occupied with Sowers at X. Not only did Currier recognize that, but he created it and capitalized in the span of five seconds.
Currier's fluidity and intelligence were unmatched on the field last Sunday. That’s a big reason why the Waterdogs held the momentum until the final buzzer. From end-to-end, Currier did his job flawlessly.
In addition, when Currier isn’t taking faceoffs, he’s an elite ground ball collector. He ranked seventh in the league in that category during the regular season, and first for a non-faceoff specialist.
“In my opinion, he’s the best ground ball player in the world,” Copelan said. “For the new faceoff rules, he’s kind of a unicorn.”
Oh, and he can guard. Currier was the closest defender on 11 shots this season and allowed just three goals. He also caused seven turnovers during the regular season and added another on Sunday with some nifty stickwork.
Currier starts the play by setting a strong screen for Connor Kelly at the top. But when McArdle wrapped back toward the middle, the ball was checked out of his stick. After Max Wayne caused and picked up the ground ball, Currier accelerated and executed a wrap check from behind, retaining possession for the Dogs.
When he takes faceoffs, Copelan doesn’t always have him out on defense, to preserve his energy. But, even when he isn’t on the defensive end as much, he still finds a way to contribute in that area. Most midfielders, even two-way middies, don’t have the stick command to make this play happen, but Currier does.
In the Cash App Championship next Sunday, the Archers will have to account for him at all times. If they don’t, he could ride that momentum to be a game-wrecker once again.