We figure most Notre Dame fans are like us. We intensely follow our Irish student-athletes while they are in college, only to see them scattered across the pro leagues when they graduate. We support them as pros as best as we can, but it’s hard to keep up when are on so many different teams. We’re sure you’ve wondered like us what it would be like if they were all on the same team, how much fun would that be!
As fans of Notre Dame Fighting Irish lacrosse, we got our wish! The new Premiere Lacrosse League (PLL) was formed, all the recent Notre Dame greats were signed to this league, and a team was formed that would include all of them: Redwoods LC.
Notre Dame All-American and All-ACC alumni Matt Kavanagh, Sergio Perkovic, John Sexton, Matt Landis, Garrett Epple, Eddie Glazener, Jack Near, and Nick Ossello. And just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, upon their graduation the Redwoods added Brendan Gleason and Ryder Garnsey!
We came to find out our excitement was only exceeded by theirs in being reconnected as a team!
Premier Lacrosse League
The new PLL was formed last Fall as a new and unique professional sports league by brothers Paul and Mike Rabil. It is a 14-week tour-based league where the teams visit various cities across the country, including Atlanta this past weekend.
What makes this league unusual is that its six inaugural teams are not attached to any city like most traditional sports teams. However, they are all unique teams as they were built to have their own identities so they can attract their own fans.
This is where the Notre Dame community got lucky: a central part of the identity of one of their teams was the Fighting Irish, particularly the pride in its complex defense. Sort of like the Baltimore Ravens, if the Ravens had thirty Domers on the roster.
The (un)Holy Trinity
Matt Landis, Garrett Epple and Eddie Glazner.
Before & After. pic.twitter.com/lh8ZCBZGeQ
— Gerry Byrne (@byrneirish) May 31, 2019
Let their be no mistake, there are a lot of all-time lacrosse greats on the Redwoods, but their identity begins with these three. Defense nerds like us everywhere were super excited that the arguably best college back line of the last 25 years would be back on the field together. They have not disappointed.
Two-time Schmeisser Award winner Matt Landis remains a pure, athletic, textbook lock-down defenseman. Not a whole lot new needs to be said, his is still the best out there.
Don’t get lost in the woods. 🌲 🌲 pic.twitter.com/MmBIjjWYbh
— Redwoods Lacrosse Club (@PLLRedwoods) May 20, 2019
Garrett Epple’s defensive stats may exceed the combined stats of the next 10 defensemen. His metrics have been out of this world, including a 10 ground ball, 7 caused turnover, and 1 goal performance last week against the Chrome, and 5 ground balls and 4 caused turnovers this week against the league leading Whipsnakes.
These numbers are silly good, but he still retains his instinctive ability for bonecrushing slides. There are a lot of examples we could choose from, but we will go with this week’s de-cleter:
— Redwoods Lacrosse Club (@PLLRedwoods) June 29, 2019
What makes this unit more than just a collection of athletes is #airtrafficcontrol, the uniquely excellent way Eddie Glazener controls the pieces on defense and makes them more than the sum of their parts. We’ve be saying he is the best communicator in lacrosse for many years, but the PLL has made his communication a feature of their broadcasts, having him miced-up for games so the fans can hear how the best do it.
We might need to mic up Eddy Glazener every game.
👂 Listen in to this elite level communication pic.twitter.com/VOBrbJbac4
— Premier Lacrosse League (@PremierLacrosse) June 22, 2019
Don’t sleep on Eddy Glazener 👀
— Redwoods Lacrosse Club (@PLLRedwoods) June 24, 2019
Our crew has had incredible defensive performances in a league of amazing talent on offense. 14 straight shutout minutes late in the game last week against the Chrome, 12 minute performance early this weekend against the Whipsnakes, along with forcing FOUR shot clock violations against that then-undefeated team.
*(with the recent news of the departure of Coach Byrne, we’ll go ahead an remind everyone, just as we were just reminded by our readers, of a Quint Kessenich quote from a few years ago: “If Defensive Coordinator Gerry Byrne ever calls in sick, Glazener can run the show.” We’re sure Notre Dame will make a good hire, but can we be so bold as to ask Coach Corrigan to at least consider this?)
No discussion of the Redwood’s defensive backbone would be complete with reminding folks of one of the best LSMs to every take up the position: 2018 Schmeisser Award winner John Sexton. Like his fellow Fighting Irish Schmeisser Award winner Matt Landis, he makes great plays routinely. Yard sales, wild ground balls, and hammering shots are a regular day’s work.
— The Lacrosse Cave (@LacrosseCave) June 8, 2019
SHEEEEESH SEXTON pic.twitter.com/xelOKWJCdh
— Redwoods Lacrosse Club (@PLLRedwoods) June 8, 2019
Sexton was also quick to remind us that it’s not only great for the fans that all these Notre Dame players are on the same team, but it’s also incredible for them! He was genuinely excited to be playing with the guys again.
John also indulged us and our readers by showing us the most famous stick in pro lacrosse:
The (not so) Silent Partners
Short-stick defensive midfielders are the unsung heroes of lacrosse, sort of the offensive lineman of the sport. They are always the players offenses chose to attack, and there’s no stat anyone bothers to track to measure their performance.
It is in this world two Irish greats continue to make their mark. Jack Near continues to be a defensive rock as well as a constant threat in transition. Further assisting the team in this role is Nick Ossello, the lovingly proclaimed “toughest guy on the internet.” Having established guys like them, who know the Notre Dame defense, is critical to the success of the Redwoods even if people (other than us) forget to recognize their great contributions.
#OurRyder and #AirKav
Sometimes we forget that Ryder Garnsey and Matt Kavanagh only shared the field at Notre Dame for a year. The King of Clutch is now a seasoned pro lacrosse veteran, and Ryder is again the young rookie, just like the first time we saw them together against Georgetown in the Atlanta suburbs.
The magic hasn’t changed a bit, these two are still providing the fans super creative lacrosse that is so much fun to watch. There are so many highlights we could have chosen from the past four weeks, but we’ll go with this one.
Ryder Garnsey No Look Pass
Matt Kavanagh BTB Goal
— Premier Lacrosse League (@PremierLacrosse) June 15, 2019
We also solved a the mystery puzzling Irish lacrosse fans these past few weeks: How did they agree that Ryder would wear the famous #50?
We asked the two stars how they decided, and Kavanagh said “I told him to just rep it!” For the original #50, who has been wearing the number his whole pro career, to want to hand the number off to his younger partner is so cool.
Sergio Perkovic, the Motor City Hitman, is a star in the PLL. Lacrosse is a full-time job for him now, and the league puts him front and center in their promotions. As for his play, he’s still one of the most dangerous big midfielders in the game. His opponents obviously didn’t ask us for scouting notes, because they seem to think it’s safe to just guard his right, and Sergio has being killing them with his left all season.
If there is one blemish in our all-Irish PLL Redwoods theme, it’s that the Notre Dame goalie hero Scott Rodgers plays alongside his longtime friends on Atlas LC. The enormous Rodgers is an established pro, and we (politely) asked him if the years make it harder to play goalie. Scotty told us no, it’s just that the players are shooting harder. Don’t ever try to ask Rodgers to show weakness!
Young lacrosse players can learn a lot from Scotty Rodgers. Injuries and illness have kept him mostly off the field this season, but his is constantly looking for ways to help his team. He never seems to lose focus that lacrosse is a team game.
We all have a role to play . If you accept your role you can be great. You can be a great teammate , a great leader and learn a few things about humility. This group is fun to be around. This is just the beginning for @PLLAtlas #BrickByBrick
— Scotty Rodgers (@ScottyRodg42) June 29, 2019
What we want to tell our readers most is what Redwoods Head Coach Nat St. Laurent told us when we asked him about our Notre Dame boys: “They’re amazing, competitive, and they take pride in what they do. And the University should be proud they represent it.” This was very cool to hear from their new coach.
The Notre Dame lacrosse season may be over, but the summer is filled with Irish lacrosse action. Redwoods LC in the Premiere Lacrosse League can be found on the NBC networks every weekend, and there are plenty of high school and club games on television showcasing our future Notre Dame stars, and many of our alumni are still with Major League Lacrosse. We hope you can take the time to watch and support our Irish players.
Today’s article was an ND-Atl 2.0 project. Special thanks to Julian Galano of the Premier Lacrosse League, Redwoods LC head coach Nat St. Laurent, and the Fighting Irish lacrosse alumni of the PLL for their help and time.