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Philadelphia Waterdogs

The Philadelphia Waterdogs: A brief history of Philly’s newest team

Paul Rabil ambitiously began the Premier Lacrosse League in 2019 as a Major League Lacrosse competitor to grow the game of lacrosse faster. With the help of his incredible players with highlights galore, a fair amount of funding, and finally a deal with ESPN, the PLL soon became king.

The Waterdogs entered the scene as an expansion team in 2020 to bring the league to seven teams, allowing for bye weeks during a grueling schedule.

From there, these seven teams would travel the country, from Boston to Minneapolis to Tacoma, battling for ten weeks. Ironically enough, Subarbu Park hosted the 2022 and 2023 PLL Championship in which the Waterdogs lost a heartbreaker to the Archers, 15-14.

Philadelphia Waterdogs

But before they could reach those heights, the Waterdogs, owned by Pardon My Take’s Big Cat and PFT, had a crucial expansion draft to create the foundation of their dog pound. Notable picks that remain with the team include Kieran McCardle, one of the league’s most dynamic attackmen from behind the net; Connor Kelly, consistently called one of the PLL’s top midfielders, and Chris Sabia, who plays long-stick midfield but is an offensive weapon.

Philadelphia Waterdogs

In the 2020 Entry Draft, where players from the MLL can move to the PLL, Big Cat and PFT landed their big fish. Midfielder Zach Currier, a Canadian sensation from Princeton and the Denver Outlaws, is the definition of Mr Do-It-All. Not only can Currier rip a 100+ MPH corner snipe for a goal or find the next man for a dip-and-dunk assist, but he’s physical, scrappy, and a vacuum when he the balls on the ground.

The Waterdogs finished 1-3 in the 2020 PLL Championship series and got bounced in the first round by the Redwoods, 11-8. It was clear the Waterdogs had fight in them but needed more talent to become elite in this ever-growing sport. It’s not hyperbole to say that no team has drafted as well as the Waterdogs have over the past two years.

Through entry and traditional college drafts, the Waterdogs built a pack of hounds, each dynamic at their position, and that fed off the team’s intensity. Players like eye-popping attackman Michael Sowers from Upper Dublin and his partner in crime Ethan Walker, seek-and-destroy defensemen like Ben Randall and Liam Brynes, to the goalie with the highest save percentage in 2023, Dillon Ward, all hit and created a potent unit.

So potent, the Waterdogs messed around and won the 2022 PLL Championship over the Chaos 11-9 on a game-winning goal by Connor Kelly in one of the craziest lacrosse games these eyes have witnessed. They came in as the 5th seed in the playoff and upset their way to a title, The Philly Way.

To bring it back around, the Waterdogs lost a back-and-forth electric contest against the now Utah Archers, 15-14, in last year’s PLL Championship game.

However, an expansion team coached by the great Andy Copeland has gone to the championship in back-to-back seasons in four years since entering the league. They have the most exciting trio of attackmen in the PLL: a midfielder in Zach Currier who exudes Philly Grit surrounded by sharpshooters, hard-hitting defensemen, and a goalie who gobbles up every shot he sees. You must tune in to watch this team play if you are a true Philadelphia sports fan.

The 2024 season expanded to 14 weeks and features eight games where the Waterdogs will be playing in Philadelphia. The full schedule and venues will not be released until January, but the Waterdogs will compete in the PLL’s off-season tournament, The Championship Series, in February.

I will cover everything Philadelphia Waterdogs, including more intro articles for fans to get to know the players more as another championship-caliber team comes to the city of Brotherly Love.

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