Zach Currier’s All-Around Performance Propels Waterdogs Over Chaos
Midfielder Zach Currier was the most efficient Waterdog on offense, defense and the faceoff. And he showcased all three on a single, momentum-shifting play against Chaos LC in the season opener.
With five minutes remaining in a tie game, Currier replaced Zac Tucci at the faceoff stripe. After a powerplay goal by Michael Sowers tied the game at six, Copelan said that he wanted to push the momentum while they had it.
Currier won the faceoff, corralled the ground ball and initiated the offense, something Tucci struggled with all day, finishing with a 28.6% win rate. The man-up opportunity ended in an errant shot from Kieran McArdle, but a downfield pass from goalie Blaze Riorden went too far with Currier applying underneath pressure.
Inside, he worked his way to the middle of the field, got a pass from McArdle and completely fooled Will Bowen with a shot fake. As he streaked toward the former MVP in goal, Currier faked high again and then – on the right edge of the crease – bounced his shot under a leaping Riorden. His second goal of the game gave the Waterdogs a 7-6 lead with just over four minutes remaining.
It was “same old Zach” in the season opener, said McArdle, impacting all facets of the game. “That’s just who Zach is,” added head coach Andy Copelan.
In an 8-7 overtime victory that featured some obvious struggles, Currier sparked the defending champions all over the field. Riorden saved 72% of the Waterdogs’ 25 shots on goal, and no Waterdog player apart from Currier scored at over a 50% clip.
But the best two-way midfielder on the planet – according to many – buried two of his three shots, corralled four ground balls and caused three turnovers. He led the team in all three categories and (technically) had the highest faceoff percentage as well. It was Currier’s versatility that lifted the Waterdogs to a win in the 2022 championship rematch.
“Zach’s a beast,” Connor Kelly said of Currier. “To have him in between the lines playing defensive end, pushing transition, he’s one of the best in the world.”
On top of his crunch-time playmaking, Currier got the scoring started in under 20 seconds.
The opening faceoff got booted around the middle of the field before Currier collected to give the Waterdogs opening possessions. And on the team’s first crack at the 32-second shot clock, he ripped one past the best goalie in the world from just inside the 2-point arc. In 19 seconds, the Waterdogs used the two-man game to take a 1-0 lead.
Hastily making his mark at the stripe and on attack, Currier’s defensive impact was also immediate. Shortly after the Waterdogs jumped out to a 2-0 lead, the Princeton product locked up Brian Minicus behind the cage. His contested pass couldn’t connect and the Waterdogs took possession.
“I think Brian Minicus is gonna present some problems for teams in this league,” said Chaos head coach Andy Towers postgame.
But the Waterdogs weren’t one of them, as Minicus finished with just one goal on seven shots, and was often guarded by Currier.
With just over a minute remaining in the first, Currier struck again. After another pass from X missed its target, Currier’s stick made like a magnet – the ball went right to it. The turnover led to a last-second score from Jake Carraway, marking his first as a Waterdog to give them a two-goal lead entering the second quarter.
Currier’s paw prints were all over the field on Sunday, especially in clutch moments. And although the win was “ugly,” Currier was “unbelievable” as one of the lone bright spots, said McArdle. Without him, the Waterdogs wouldn’t have been in this game.