Rookie defender Will Bowen clears the ball for Chaos Lacrosse Club

Will Bowen: The Quarterback of Chaos LC’s Defense

By Joe Keegan

PLL Analyst

Jun 11, 2023

Since their 2021 Championship run, the Chaos LC defense has been slow to slide.

A league-low 45.1% of shots against Chaos LC were assisted in 2022. Their philosophy is that if you can beat your defender and three-time Oren Lyons Goalie of the Year Blaze Riorden -- by yourself -- then you’ve earned your point(s).

That strategy worked. Opposing shooters only buried 26.6% of their stepdown looks against Chaos last summer. With no slides there are no scrambles. No late approaches. No out-of-control pole to hitch. No time. No room.

But there are downsides to holding slides. It’s a conservative scheme for an otherwise aggressive team. Chaos finished last in caused turnovers (5.3 per game) in 2022. Offenses with six strong dodgers have started to get comfortable against the scheme. The Waterdogs were able to win their one-on-ones to bury seven unassisted goals in the 2022 Championship.

So Chaos has started sliding again in 2023.

Most of those slides have either been communicated or executed by rookie defender Will Bowen.

Bowen, the seventh overall pick out of Georgetown, has slid into a role reserved for lacrosse savants like Eddy Glazener, Liam Byrnes, and Matt McMahon. He’s guarding off-ball finishers and talking teammates through slide packages.

“He has taken ownership of being the QB of our defense,” said Chaos LC Head Coach and General Manager Andy Towers. “That voice helps accelerate our connection as a group and makes us very hard to penetrate.”

Late in Saturday’s win against Cannons LC, Bowen recognized Marcus Holman setting up for an invert. He barked out orders and identified the off-ball threats – then flushed the ball out of Holman’s stick to force a turnover.

“He just sees the game at such a high level,” said Chaos LC defender Jack Rowlett. “We’ll be so fixated on what’s going on on the ball side of the field. All of a sudden, Bowen’s like, ‘Okay, how about on the off side we just freeze? We don’t chase our men and we just hold our spots a bit more. It’s going to be easier than changing up who the go guy is.’”

Rowlett – who played with Bowen at UNC, and then coached him at Georgetown – says the rookie has already earned the trust of the defense. When he speaks in huddles, the veterans listen. In a way, he’s playing more relaxed than Rowlett has ever seen him. Since Bowen’s freshman year in Chapel Hill, he’s been asked to cover the top attackman. Now, he can exhale. He can roam. And when he sees the nameplate on a dodger’s jersey, he can pounce.

“He plays hard as crap,” said Rowlett. “The guys just wants to win.”

“If they’re not going to get opportunities in transition and on the powerplay, we feel really good about chances of being able to defend the best teams in this league in a six-on-six situation,” said Towers.

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