We’re just one day away from the 2022 PLL College Draft which means the 2022 pro season is right around the corner!
Opening weekend kicks off June 4-5 in Albany, NY.
Before the PLL season begins though the best graduating players in college lacrosse will be selected to start their professional careers with one of the 8 PLL squads on Tuesday, May 10 at 8pm ET (It will be aired on ESPN+).
But who are the top goalies in this year’s draft and will we see any of them selected on Tuesday?
In a league where there are only 16 roster spots for goalies (2 per team), cracking a PLL roster as a keeper is incredibly difficult. We’re talking about the 16 best goalies in the world.
In 2021, not a single goalie was taken in the College Draft.
In 2020, Matt Deluca was the only goalie taken in the draft by the Waterdogs with the 1st pick of the 2nd round.
And in 2019, the PLL’s inaugural season, Tim Troutner was chosen 20th overall before leading the Redwoods to the PLL Championship Game and winning Rookie of the Year.
So, in total, only 2 goalies have been selected in the collegiate draft. Why is that you may ask? Well, I think there are two reasons for this.
First, goalies take time to develop. Just like moving from high school to college, it can take some time for goalies to find their footing in the big leagues. The PLL game is fast. The shots come harder and the game moves a lot quicker.
So, it’s to be expected that it might take some time for a goalie to adjust to the pace of the pro game – that makes Troutner’s 2019 performance even more impressive. Teams will instead spend their draft picks on adding a playmaking attackman, lockdown defender, or two-way middies who can make the transition to the PLL right away and focus on signing goalies in free agency.
The second is opportunity. There are only so many roster spots available in the PLL for goalies. Most teams will only use two active roster spots on goalies – the Waterdogs were the only team last year to keep three goalies. So that leaves only 16 spots, give or take, to earn a crack at a PLL roster let alone get legitimate playing time – in short, the opportunities are very little – especially when you have to compete with names like Riorden, Bernlohr, Concannon, Troutner, Ward, Ghitelman and on and on.
However, this year is different. During the offseason, we saw three goalie greats retire.
First was the great John Galloway who after 15 seasons of pro lacrosse decided to hang em up. After that, Archer’s goalie Drew Adams announced his retirement after 13 seasons in the pros. Finally, after 10 seasons in the pros, Charlie Cipriano of the Waterdogs also announced he was retiring in January.
So some job openings have been created that will need to be filled during the off-season either through free agency or the collegiate draft.
The 2022 draft class features a group of elite college goalies that should pique the interest of PLL teams this year and fill those openings. There are many talented back stoppers in this pool of PLL prospects that possess the skills and abilities to break their way into the league.
Let’s look at the prospects who are available in this year’s draft.
Here are my top 5 college goalie draft prospects.
1. Owen McElroy – Georgetown
Owen McElroy is the unanimous #1 goalie in this draft class and is probably one of the most talented goalie prospects we’ve seen come out of college in a while. He’s poised to win his second consecutive goalie of the year award finishing in the top 2 in Save % (.623) and GAA (8.16) with the Hoyas this season.
The soon-to-be 2x All-American has displayed time and time again that he is the best all-around goalie in college lacrosse over the last two seasons playing against the best competition in the country.
No better example of this was his performance against Notre Dame earlier this season. McElroy made 24 saves against the Irish and set the tone in that game to help the Hoyas defeat what is now considered one of the top offenses in the nation.
McElroy is one of the most well-rounded goalies in this draft. He’s an excellent ball-stopper, a great clearing threat, and is the leader of one of the best defenses in the nation. He also sets himself apart with his ability to make plays outside the crease whether that be picking up ground balls or creating turnovers there are not many goalies better than McElroy at this.
The 5th-year grad student is a seasoned veteran in the college game that should be ready to step in and compete for a starting job right away in the PLL.
Prediction – Chrome Round 2, Pick 1 – I think McElroy would be a perfect fit for the Chrome roster. He’s a ready-made talent that can come in and compete with Sean Sconone for the starting position in between the pipes for The Men of Chrome.
Owen is also a Lax Goalie Rat sponsored athlete. As part of our NIL deal, we put together a lacrosse goalie training pack for the youth goalies which is amazing.
2. Brett Dobson – St. Bonaventure
If there’s one goalie who can challenge Owen for the #1 spot in the goalie rankings it’s Brett Dobson.
The Oshawa, Ontario product has had a phenomenal season in 2022 being named the MAAC Defensive Player of the Year, a Midseason All-American, USA Lacrosse Player of the Week, and a 7x MAAX Defensive Player of the Week.
Dobson leads the nation in save % (.669) and sits at 6th in GAA (9.08) which is equally more impressive when you take into consideration how heavy a workload he faces game in and game out with the Bonnies. This season Dobson sits at 2nd in Saves Per Game (17.36) and it’s become a common occurrence to see him face 25+ shots on goal in a game.
He’s one of the best pure ball stoppers in this draft. He’s great at making saves in every situation and there’s not one area where you’re going to beat him consistently. That’s not a diss at any of his other skills – he’s also great a clearing and making phenomenal passes.
Brett Dobson is not only the best goalie in the NCAA, he's the best outlet passer.
Dobson has been the backbone of the St. Bonaventure program for the last four seasons and was Coach Randy Mearns first recruit when he took over the newly formed program back in 2019.
The immense leadership skills he gained from taking on that role at St. Bonaventure shouldn’t be underestimated either.
Dobson also has experience on the international stage too. He’s played for Team Canada at the last two Fall Classics and also with be representing the maple leaf at the World Games in Birmingham, AL later this summer.
Prediction – Archers Round 3, Pick 2 – There’s some continuity with Dobson and other Canadian teams on the Archers D in Graeme Hossack, Warren Jeffery, and Latrell Harris. Dobson can also sit and learn behind veteran goalie Adam Ghitelman before competing for the starting job.
Colin Kirst has been one of my favorite goalies to watch over the last two seasons. This guy reminds me of Jack Concannon in so many ways.
The two-time 1st-team All-Big Ten goalie and 2021 Big Ten Specialist of the year has been the backbone of the Rutgers defense over the past two seasons and has been a huge reason for the resurgence of the Scarlet Knights.
Kirst has a knack for stepping up when his team needs him most. Last year Kirst was phenomenal against the No. 1 UNC Tar Heels making 16 saves and almost helping the Knights pull off the upset.
Kirst hasn’t had quite the same season as last year’s impressive campaign but we’ve seen him step up a number of times in situations where his team has needed him to and that’s a very valuable trait to look for in a goalie – the ability to make saves at key moments in a game.
To top it off, Colin Kirst makes a save with @RUmlax down three men.
Kirst is also great at clearing the ball – something that is key to the Rutgers Nascar offense. His ability to make clean saves and push the ball down the field to make the quick transition is a necessary skill to have in the fast-paced PLL game and something that PLL head coaches will love to see.
Prediction – Chaos Round 4, Pick 8 – The Chaos love to push the pace in transition. Why not bring in an athletic goalie who excels in the clearing game to sit and learn behind Blaze Riorden and allow him to get some rest this year if need be.
4. Brendan Krebs – Manhattan
The Manhattan product has garnered a lot of attention during his time with the Jaspers.
His numbers have been good this year with a 9.78 and a 5.23 Save % but the big goalie has a knack for making be highlight-reel saves. Once or twice a game you’re guaranteed to see Krebs make a save that nobody in the world should be able to make and also has shown that he can excel in the clearing game.
He caught a lot of people’s attention earlier this season with his solid performance against Duke. Krebs made 19 saves against the high-powered Blue Devils’ offense in a losing effort, but that game left a lot of people thinking that Krebs was a promising young prospect for PLL teams.
He also has the physical traits that would be enticing for any PLL coach to add. In a league where you see goalies who use their height to allow them to sit back on the line and play a low arc to help deal with all of the east-west movement of the PLL game, Krebs’ 6’3 frame would really intrigue teams who are looking to add a big presence in between the pipes.
Prediction – Free Agent Signing with the Waterdogs – The Waterdogs love size at the goalie position and have a history of carrying 3 goalies. Krebs adds another big goaltender that they can develop in their system.
Mike Adler brings a unique style of play to the game and I wonder how teams will view this when it comes to assessing his talent and viability in the PLL.
The 2021 All-American is probably the most athletic goalie in this year’s draft inside and outside the cage. Every save he makes is an explosion – sometimes you’ll end up seeing him falling over his own feet because of how hard he’s exploding to the ball. His hands are ridiculously fast – probably the best in this draft, especially when it comes to low shots and off hip stick shots.
Adler’s also probably one of the more household names when it comes to goalies in this draft. Playing at Duke has allowed Adler to compete on the biggest of stages against the best teams in the nation with the highest stakes. There’s something to say about the fact that he’s playing against teams that hold rosters of several future PLL players every time he steps on the field to perform.
However, the one thing that Adler seems to have struggled with this past season has been finding consistency in his game.
He’s had some very amazing highs, like his 19 save performance against UNC and his 20 save performance against UVA. But in between those games was also a 5 saves performance against Notre Dame. The numbers don’t necessarily put meaning behind the shot quality he’s facing but coaches look for consistency from their goaltenders and I wonder if coaches are concerned about that with Adler.
Prediction – Free Agent Signing with the Whipsnakes – Kyle Bernlohr had a down season in 2021 and Brian Phipps is a veteran who’s nearing the end of his illustrious career. Bringing in Adler gives them a young rookie that can develop behind two very experienced goaltenders and can hope in the cage to give the Whips minutes if Bernlohr’s struggles continue.
The big righty out of Dartmouth had a solid season for the Big Green in 2022.
In 13 games this season the Big Green netminder finished with a 12.59 GAA and .520 save % in a very stacked IVY league this year and was named to the All-Ivy 2nd Team. Standing in at 6’5” Hincks reminds me a lot of Dillon Ward in net minus the high arc. He’s patient yet explosive in the net and uses his big frame well to position himself in the cage.
He’s still got a year of eligibility so there’s a chance he enters the transfer portal and does a grad year at another school (remember Ivies don’t allow grad student athletes) for his final year.
So there you have it! These are the top 5 goalies we have in this year’s draft plus one honorable mention.
It does seem like this year there are going to be more teams interested in taking goalies in the draft. The crop of talent also coming out this year is a lot greater than what we’ve seen in previous seasons.
Odds are very high we won’t see all five goalies go in the draft but we may see each of them get signed off the player pool for a shot to come into camp and compete.
I also think that it’s important that the PLL begin developing these young goalies. I’m certain that they’ll be looking to expand in the coming years and we could also see more of the household names in between the pipes decide to hang em out. So getting these young netminders in and developing them to be is crucial.
But what do you think? Which goalie from this draft class is your number 1? Where do you think they’ll go? Leave your comments below.
Lacrosse is my passion! The game has given me so much and this blog is my way of giving back to the lax community. Specifically the most bad a$$ part of that community - the goalies! After learning to play goalie from scratch, I wanted to create a site where I could share what I learned with others so they too can become champions in the crease and in life. Learn more about Coach Damon.