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Philadelphia Waterdogs Roster Breakdown: Chemistry mixed with playmakers create a dangerous attack unit

The smaller lacrosse field in the PLL and the shot clock on offense give the game a back-and-forth, non-stop, energetic feel. You’re right in thinking that offense would be king in this league, and it is, for the most part. The Waterdogs adopted this way of thinking and almost broke the game of lacrosse by not dressing a faceoff specialist to gain more quality offensive possessions and limit their opposition to a much shorter shot clock.

A two-point arc gives players chances to change the game’s momentum, and the quicker shot clock makes for some fantastic improvised highlights. Luckily for the Waterdogs, they possess a trio of attackmen who complement one another while excelling at their assignments. Last season, the Waterdogs finished second in the PLL in assists with 76 assists while turning the ball over a league-low 149 times.

#6 Kieran McArdle (6-2, 185, Age: 31)

The Long Island lefty is the definition of a smooth operator. Whether a defender smacks his helmet on a dodge or gets knocked off position in a dodge, his eyes are up and hands ready to fire a shot or find an open man.

McArdle went to St. John’s University, where he earned All-American honors three times and was the Big East Player of the Year twice. After joining the Waterdogs in the 2020 expansion draft, Kieran took on the title of captain and became a true leader for this group and its back-to-back championship runs.

The Waterdogs grabbed the veteran attackmen in their 2020 entry draft, and he quickly made a connection with Michael Sowers in 2022, their title year. He finished 1st in the league in assists with 23 in 10 games and only two points short of the league leader, legendary attackman Lyle Thompson.

McArdle works from behind the net with eyes in the back of his head. After he split dodges his defender, he has the IQ to find the next man for an easy goal or the strength and patience to find a shooting angle and bury a shot.

Kieran is one of five players to finish in the Top 10 in points in the last two seasons, joining future Hall-of-Famers like Rob Pannell and Tom Schreiber and other young guns like Jeff Teat and Chris Gray.

#22 Michael Sowers (5-9, 165 lbs, Age: 26)

The Upper Dublin kid is simply a human highlight reel on the field. For me, his NBA comparison is Anthony Edwards. Sowers’ quick first step to take it to the cage, his willingness to sacrifice his body diving for goals, and his ability to scorch goals from a distance remind me of the young Timberwolves star.

Drafted with the 2nd overall pick in the 2021 draft, Michael Sowers spent his last year of college at Duke, leading them to a Final Four appearance and finishing as a finalist for the Tewaarton Award, college lacrosse’s version of the Heisman. Before that, Sowers played at Princeton, where he became their all-time leading scorer with 121 goals and 181 assists.

As a professional, Sowers is one of the most beloved fan favorites in the league. His Iverson-esque split dodges leaves even the best defenders in the PLL dusted, and his footwork is second to none. Leave Sowers one-on-one with anybody in the PLL without help coming, and it’s an automatic goal. If not, he and another player matched with a short-stick defensive player will work the short game until Sowers gets his matchup.

#57 Ethan Walker (5-9, 170 lbs, Age: 26)

Another attackman the Waterdogs took in the 2021 Draft, Walker, became the Waterdogs’ final pick to instill some energy into their offense. Born in Ontario, Walker played his college ball at Denver, a program notorious for recruiting Canadian players because of their “box lacrosse” background where stick skills are paramount.

Coming out of Denver, Walker had back-to-back Teewaarton Finalist nominations and played with one of lacrosse’s sharpest shooters, Ryan Brown, who retired after the Waterdogs 2022 Championship.

The Canadian sensation learned from his Hall-of-Fame mentor, taking over as the third starting attackman last season and one of many sharpshooters on the Waterdogs. The lefty finished the year tied for tenth with MVP Tom Schreiber, scoring 16 goals. More importantly, Walker had the least turnovers among the Top Ten scorers, with only seven in 2023.

With a point guard in Kieran McArdle and a right-handed playmaker/shooter in Michael Sowers, across from a lefty sniper in Ethan Walker, the Waterdogs were the only team with all three attackmen in to finish in the Top 15 in points in 2023.

#5 Jack Traynor (5-10, 185, Age: 23)

The Waterdogs picked up Jack Traynor on May 12th off waivers after the draft to add some versatility to their offense. The no-faceoff strategy and injuries to the midfield made Traynor a perfect fit as a fill-in attackman who can play middy.

During his graduate season at Penn State, Traynor recorded a collegiate career-high in goals (32), assists (17), points (49), and groundballs (28). The former Nittany Lion brings a scrappy, versatile playmaker to a team filled with them, but its quality of depth is critical.

#11 Charlie Kitchen (6-4, 215 lbs, Age: 25)

Kitchen spent the season on the Waterdogs’ PUP list after suffering an injury that forced him to miss the rest of his NLL season (lacrosse’s indoor league). The Waterdogs acquired him just before the season from the Albany Firewolves, adding to their already potent attack room.

“Chuck” is a powerhouse attackman who utilizes his strength and body angles to get shots off in close quarters. Hailing from the University of Delaware, Charlie was a superstar, finishing third in program history in points (239), fourth in goals (146), and fifth in assists (93). He also had a 36-game goal streak over three and a half seasons.

Typically, attackmen are slippery, quick, agile players, but Kitchen’s large frame combined with his free spirit attitude of dodging and creativity make Chuck a monster just waiting to burst from his cage.

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