April 23, 2014

MLL 2014 Preview: No. 8 Rochester Rattlers

by Phil Shore | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

A cadre of former Duke Blue Devils like Davis Lawson could help the Rattlers develop chemistry. (Greg Wall)

2013 Record: 6-8
Coach: Tim Soudan, 3rd season

The rumors out of Rochester all of last season were that the Rattlers wouldn't be around for much longer as a franchise. The team played three out-of-market games, had the lowest average attendance in the league, and missed the playoffs for a third straight season.

While the team didn't move this offseason, some of its most identifiable players did. Veterans Ned Crotty, Matt Striebel and Steve DeNapoli were traded away.

"We traded away some big name players, which was a little scary at first," Rattlers long-stick midfielder Joel White said. "It's never easy to replace those big names but it was a great job by the coaching staff to have a great draft and get some players on the Rattlers so we can start working towards our goal."

Despite the distraction the off-field issues created last season, Rochester still finished only a game out of the playoffs for the second year in a row. White said that could be in part thanks to a very tight-knit locker room.

Part of that chemistry comes from a large contingent of players with ties to Duke University. Dave Lawson, Rob Rotanz, and Mike Manley all played at Duke together, and John Galloway was a volunteer coach for a season with the Blue Devils. Rochester then added former Blue Devil Justin Turri this offseason and drafted current Blue Devil attackman Jordan Wolf.

The team also drafted cousins Miles and Ty Thompson, who have shown great chemistry playing together for Albany.

"The Duke guys have had a lot of success and they expect a lot out of each other. It's a great atmosphere," Rattlers head coach Tim Soudan said. "When you have guys that have played together before, it works out."

For the team to finally break into the playoffs, the chemistry and an underrated defense need to hold the team together until the rookies on offense become available.

Rochester is a team with a lot to prove in 2014.

"We have a culture that the guys appreciate each other and the guys like playing together," Soudan said. "They were disappointed that we underachieved last year."

This article appears as part of the Major League Lacrosse preview in the May 2014 issue of Lacrosse Magazine. Start your subscription by joining US Lacrosse today!

MVP Candidate

G John Galloway

Players on attack and high-scoring midfielders get all the love, but a goalie — Greg Cattrano — did win the league MVP award in 2002, so there is a precedent. Galloway's stock may never have been higher after a strong 2013 season and an even more impressive Team USA tryout. He'll have to stand out again this year while the Rattlers wait for draft picks on attack to spice up the offense. "He addressed issues he had early on in this league," Soudan said. "He's tightened up big time. He's so good at getting the ball into the transition game. We just expect him to step it up another notch."

Next Best

M David Lawson, A Kevin Leveille, D Mike Manley, A Mark Matthews, M John Ranagan, D Joel White

New Arrivals

M Sam Bradman, D John LoCascio, A Mark Matthews, A Miles Thompson, A Ty Thompson, A Jordan Wolf

Only two teams scored fewer goals than the Rattlers last season but they certainly added some scoring punch in the draft. Wolf entered the 2014 collegiate season 10th in Duke history in goals scored and the Thompsons have combined for 31 goals in just four games in 2014.

Behind Enemy Lines

Opposing coaches thoughts on Rochester

"They play very good defense and have an excellent goalie. They struggle to score goals but with some of the younger kids they proved they got better and better. ... What a collection of talent. If those draft picks and midfielders pan out, they will be good. But at what point this season can they put it together? Their best days might be in the second half next year. ... If you really wanted to win would you trade Crotty? Tim Soudan does a nice job, but I'm not sure the players are the most important component."

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