December 2, 2023

Premier Lacrosse League awards Philadelphia a franchise


Photo via @PLLWaterdogs/X

There is a new team in town!

The Waterdogs of the Professional Lacrosse League now reside in the City of Brotherly Love. Earlier this afternoon, Paul Rabil, founder and former player of the PLL announced on SportsCenter the new home locations for the 8 teams in the league. The Waterdogs, who have been to the last two PLL Championships, winning in 2022, were assigned to Philly.

Here are some frequently asked questions on the new franchise:

How is this any different than the Wings?

The Philadelphia Wings are a part of the National Lacrosse League (NLL) which is box lacrosse. Box lacrosse is played with many pads and can be described as a mix between hockey and field lacrosse; however, it is more like hockey and is played by many hockey players just to stay in shape. Field lacrosse, which is what high school and college lacrosse is as well as the PLL, is different. The goalies in box lacrosse wear hockey goalie pads and play with a hockey goal. In field lacrosse, the goalie is defending a 6-foot by 6-foot goal with minimal padding. Less padding is needed in field lacrosse because cross-checking, which is legal in box lacrosse, is not legal in field lacrosse.

Why are the teams just now getting locations?

The PLL was formed in 2018 by a player named Paul Rabil who was a player in the very dysfunctional and now no longer-existent Men’s Lacrosse League (MLL) which paid their players terribly and did not supply health care. Rabil, who had the biggest media presence, decided that something had to be done, so he raised money, and the PLL was born. The league has been traveling all over the country for the past 4 years besides the 2020 bubble season. All of the teams would travel and play in stadiums all over. The quickly expanding league has now decided to give their teams homes.

With eight teams, there are two conferences, East and West, consisting of four teams. The Waterdogs share the Eastern conference with the Boston Cannons, the New York Atlas, and the Maryland Whipsnakes.

Why specifically the Waterdogs in Philly?

The Waterdogs lacrosse club was the PLL’s first expansion team in 2020. The team portrays Philadelphia’s gritty culture, being underdogs from the very beginning. The team was made up of players who were unwanted in the draft when the league was formed. The team of underdogs went 1-4 in their inaugural 2020 season. Due to their poor record, the Waterdogs selected Michael Sowers first overall in the 2021 draft. Sowers is one of the hardest-working players in the league and is one of the flashiest players as well. In 2021, the team went 6-3 obtaining the #1 seed in the playoffs losing to the Whipsnakes in the semi-finals. 2022 and 2023 is when the club took the next step. Despite a 5-5 regular season record, the Waterdogs showed their true Philadelphia colors. The underdog #5 seeded Waterdogs went all the way and won the 2022 PLL championship. In 2023, the Waterdogs posted their best record yet and were the #3 seed with a 7-3 record. The team won 15-12 against the Whipsnakes in the quarterfinals and demolished the #2 seed Cannons 17-6 in the semifinals to verse the Archers in the finals. In heartbreaking fashion, the Waterdogs lost by 1 goal, 15-14. Hopes are high for the upcoming 2024 season, though.

Who are the top players?

The Waterdogs have a dynamic trio of attackmen with Michael Sowers, Kieran McArdle, and Ethan Walker. The trio combined for a whopping 94 points. (A point on a player’s stat sheet is an assist or a goal, but the points counted in games are just goals). Sowers is remarkable for this crew because he is a Philadelphia native and is one of the flashiest players in the league. All of this offense does not even take into account world-class midfielder Zach Currier. He is an all-around Swiss army knife, performing remarkably on offense, defense, and even on faceoffs. On defense, Long Stick Midfielder Alex Mazzone has tons of potential as he has only one season in the league. Also defensively, Eli Gobrecht is a veteran presence on the team and a staple on the close defense. Last but certainly not least, veteran goalie Dillon Ward stands out for his unique way of playing very high up in the crease, but it works out for him very well.

Why should I care about lacrosse?

While many are reluctant to learn the sport of lacrosse, it is quickly becoming one of the fastest-growing sports on the planet. Dubbed “The Fastest Game On Two Feet”, lacrosse has a very high tempo of speed. While it seems hard to understand, lacrosse is truly one of the most entertaining sports there is, with big hits and elegant moves, it is the perfect combination of strength and technique.

Where will these games be?

While no stadium is yet to be confirmed, the most likely place these games will be held is Subaru Park in Chester PA, home of the Philadelphia Union. The draft will take place in May with the season starting shortly following in June.

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