2023 Premier Lacrosse League Preview: Waterdogs LC


The Waterdogs were 5-5 in the regular season but won the PLL championship last summer.

With the 2023 Premier Lacrosse League season set to open in Albany, N.Y., on June 3, USA Lacrosse Magazine is going team by team in the days leading up to the opener. Today, we take a deep dive on Waterdogs LC.


2022 Record: 5-5
Head Coach: Andy Copelan
Assistants: Robert Cross, Chris Ryan

Key Additions: Jake Carraway, A; Thomas McConvey, M

Key departures: Ryan Brown, A (retired); Steven DeNapoli, M (retired)


Will this be a championship level squad again, or did they get hot at the right time?

The Waterdogs were not a championship favorite heading into the 2022 postseason despite the eventual result. Only 6.9 percent of fans picked the Dogs to win it all, and for good reason. The group went 5-5 during the regular season, starting the year 0-3 and ending on a two-game skid. Injuries popped up throughout the year, halting the ability to consistently build off high points like the group’s overtime victory in Fairfield.

If we’ve learned anything in the first four years of the PLL, though, it’s that the talent discrepancy between rosters is razor thin. Just look at the Chaos the last two seasons. A team can be a championship contender and then fall toward the bottom of the pack — and given the league’s playoff format, it still make a postseason run!

Andy Copelan played it rather safe in the offseason, understandable and arguably commendable coming off the club’s first title. Waterdogs has to replace a couple key retirees, including captain Steven DeNapoli, but Copelan has praised the leadership left in the room. With competitors like the Whipsnakes further loading up, the Waterdogs are banking on this group being strong enough to repeat.

Can the Waterdogs get a full season from Michael Sowers?

Michael Sowers showed he’s among the best the PLL has to offer with his playoff performance, earning championship MVP honors after notching four points in the semifinals against the Whipsnakes and three in the title bout against the Chaos. But despite getting out of college lacrosse relatively unscathed, he’s dealt with injuries throughout his professional career. As a rookie, Sowers took a hit to the head in the first half of his first game, a collision that resulted in an overnight hospital stay and him missing much of the bubble campaign. He battled ailments throughout last season, including a hamstring injury that kept him out of the second half of the Waterdogs’ semifinal victory.

It goes without saying that Sowers’ health is critical to Waterdogs’ success, though the team has shown a knack for battling through adversity. After all, they did finish the Whips off in that semifinal tremendously shorthanded, having also lost Mikie Schlosser.

How will changes at attack affect chemistry?

The Waterdogs dealt with one of the surprise retirements of the offseason, losing potentially the greatest shooter in pro lacrosse history in Ryan Brown. The seven-year professional and gold medal winner scored 20 goals in 2021, but he had a quieter season last summer. He still notched 10 goals, including one two-pointer.

He’s been replaced by Jake Carraway, who saw the field infrequently in 2022 due to a stacked Atlas attack. Behind Jeff Teat, Chris Gray and Eric Law, Carraway played in just two games, scoring once. He proved he has more to offer in his rookie season, though, contributing 21 points in nine games. He also had a strong Championship Series this winter.

The rest of the offense remains intact from a unit that finished tied for second in goals last summer. Kieran McArdle is fresh off a breakout 42-point campaign which earned him All-Pro honors. Sowers has proven himself a star and a face-of-the-franchise worthy figure, while the midfield unit of Connor Kelly, Zach Currier and Ryan Conrad provides tremendous versatility in addition to point production. Even if Schlosser has to miss time due to the injury he suffered in the playoffs, Copelan has plenty of weapons to work with.


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