Understated Kyle Pless Quickly Becoming a Building Block for Atlas LC

Despite the star power that populated the Atlas LC roster in the first two seasons of the Premier Lacrosse League, wins were hard to come by.

In 2019, the team finished in fifth place (out of six teams) with a 5-5 record and minus-seven score differential. In 2020, the team finished tied for the worst record in the league (1-4) and but was last in the standings because of a minus-12 score differential.

After several high-profile trades in the offseason that sent away veterans while accumulating draft picks and young players, it seemed as if a rebuild was in place, and outside expectations were not high for the Atlas.

Kyle Pless, a third-year pro, was one of the team’s acquisitions. Unlike highly touted offensive players like Jeff Teat or Daniel Bucaro, adding Pless through waivers didn’t move the social media needle.

The lack of fanfare doesn’t bother Pless. The LSM and defender is just happy to have another opportunity to play professional lacrosse.

“I don’t really think about it too much,” he said. “I’m playing because I love the game. This game has given me so much, so many different opportunities. To have the chance to continue to play and be giving back, when it comes to coaching, it’s great. I don’t care if I’m flying under the radar or on everybody’s big board or anything. I want to keep playing the game I love and at a high level, both individually and as a team.”

"Lacrosse is the greatest sport in the world. I’m excited it’s starting to get more eyes and recognition on it. I’m excited to be a part of the process."

— Kyle Pless

Prior to joining the PLL, Pless’ resume was full of highlights. At Mountain Vista High School in Colorado, he was a two-time [USA] Lacrosse All-American, a two-time all-state selection, a two-time captain and a the defensive MVP.

He never missed a game at Rutgers, and as a senior, he was a USILA All-American honorable mention, a second team All-Big Ten and All-ECAC selection.

In the MLL, he was a regular contributor who helped the Denver Outlaws reach the MLL championship game twice. He didn’t earn any postseason awards or All-Star nods, but he did catch the attention of current Atlas head coach Ben Rubeor.

“I remember playing against Kyle when I was [an assistant coach] with the [Boston] Cannons,” Rubeor said. “I thought he did a really nice job. He’s extremely fast. He was on my radar.”

Pless entered the MLL as the last pick in the 2019 Collegiate Draft, picked behind 62 other players. He had two productive years, but when the PLL and MLL merged, he was not one of the 24 Entry Draft selections. Six other long-poles — including Outlaws teammates Michael Rexrode and Andrew Newbold — were drafted instead of him.

He admitted he was sad to not get drafted.

“There were nerves whether or not I was going to get a shot,” he said. “I felt like I deserved an opportunity, but you’re never sure. It’s always up in the air. I was hopeful, but I wasn’t overconfident or locked in that I was going to get a shot.”

A few days after the draft, Pless said Rubeor texted him telling him he was acquired through the waivers process. It was a plan that Rubeor said was lucky to work out in the team’s favor.

“Talking to my coaches, we went back and forth whether to use a pick on him,” he said. “I just got the sense in speaking with him that he was flying under the radar. My feeling was if we could get him off waivers and not use a pick on him that could be a valuable thing. It worked out. We took a little bit of a risk, especially with a guy that was No. 2 in caused turnovers and could play LSM or close. We took a risk, but it worked out.”

While he was excited his pro lacrosse career was going to continue, Pless said he had mixed emotions about the Outlaws no longer existing. Growing up in Highlands Ranch, almost 30 minutes away from Mile High Stadium, Pless said he fondly remembered going to Outlaws games as a kid. Getting to play professionally in front of his family and friends multiple times a year was a dream come true.

Because of the PLL’s touring model, Pless will only get to make one appearance in Colorado in 2021. While that is certainly different, he at least gets to play alongside some familiar faces. The Atlas acquired Pless’ former Outlaws teammates Bucaro, Newbold and Rexrode (whom he also teamed with at Rutgers for three seasons). They also brought on Ken Clausen, who was the defensive coordinator for the Outlaws in 2020, for the same role with the Atlas.

Playing with people he knows has made Pless’ transition to the PLL and a new team a smoother one.

“Coach Clausen, I enjoyed his style and how he likes our defense to play. I was really excited,” Pless said. “To have Rexrode and Newbold, who I have chemistry with and know pretty well over the years, was an awesome opportunity, as well as Bucaro. Having teammates you’re comfortable with, it’s very valuable.”

Much like how he came into the 2021 season under the radar, so too did the Atlas. While people outside the locker room didn’t expect much out of the club, Pless said the team’s main objective is still to win games.

After losing the season opener to the Archers by 12 goals, the Atlas became one of the league’s hottest teams. They went 3-1 in their next four games, including a 12-9 victory over the Redwoods when only 7 percent of people chose the Atlas in a league sponsored “Pick’em” contest. The lone loss came in Week 3 in overtime against the two-time defending champion Whipsnakes.


While with the Outlaws, Pless was used to high team expectations, but he is relishing the underdog mentality with the Atlas.

“I think it does take a little pressure off and allows you to play a little more free,” he said. “No one is expecting us to win. We have nothing to lose. We can go out and play for each other and play the game we all love.”

Pless may not earn the accolades or headlines other defenders do, but as the Atlas attempt to reshape their roster into one that can win a championship, Rubeor said he is hopeful Pless can be an integral piece of that puzzle.

“It’s been a pleasure coaching him,” he said. “He’s an extremely coachable player who gives you his best effort. He was a little nicked up in training camp but doesn’t whine or complain. He’s not the biggest guy, but he plays quite physical. I think that’s a help. He’s aware of the team defense. He played under Coach Clausen. He’s got a flexibility to him. We’ve run him at LSM, but we’ve seen him play close. He’s done a nice job. He’s willing to be a part of the collective unit. He’s less concerned with his own matchup than the overall defense getting a stop.”

Whether he’s the first pick or last pick on the championship favorite or the underdog, Pless doesn’t care. All that matters to him is getting to continue his professional lacrosse journey.

“I’m continuing to watch film and work on my game and continue to adjust,” he said. “When it comes to lacrosse, I’m a team-first guy that’s going to do whatever it takes to win, but I’m playing for the love of the game. Lacrosse is the greatest sport in the world. I’m excited it’s starting to get more eyes and recognition on it. I’m excited to be a part of the process.”