Major League Lacrosse has arguably a greater concentration of talent than any other professional sport. Picking the nominees for Offensive Player of the Year is very difficult and then picking a winner is nearly impossible. Theses nominees separated themselves by being multifaceted attackmen who thrive under pressure. Their coaches depend on them to be the focal point of their offenses and shoulder the responsibilities of being leaders. The nominees for Warrior Offensive Player of the Year are: Kieran McArdle (Florida Launch), Eric Law (Denver Outlaws), and Jordan Wolf (Rochester Rattlers).
Kieran McArdle, A, Florida Launch
The Florida Launch probably had the most turbulent season in Major League Lacrosse. After trading their 2015 and 2016 first round draft picks, Lyle Thompson and Matt Landis; Casey Powell retiring; and their leading scorer deciding to play in the NLL, they entered the 2017 season without four of their top five scorers from 2016. The resurgence of Chazz Woodson; an incredible 2017 draft class; the fearless leadership of their captains, Tucker Durkin and Steven Brooks; and first-year head coach Tom Mariano turned preseason questions into early season interest. Then, with the early exit of the Toronto Rock from the NLL playoffs, Florida Launch all time point leader, Kieran McArdle returned. After leading the team in scoring the last two seasons, McArdle was used to putting the ball in the back of the net.
Mariano implemented a dodge heavy offense, scoring the most unassisted goals in the league. With players like Connor Buczek, Dylan Molloy, and McArdle, it was no surprise Mariano employed this strategy. McArdle thrived in this system, scoring team high 32 goals and dishing out 16 assists in just 10 games. His 48 points were good for third in the league. McArdle had 17 unassisted goals this year in just 10 games, where last year he had 14 such goals in 14 games. With an influx of young talent, Coach Mariano leaned on the veteran McArdle to be the playmaker he always has been.
Eric Law, A, Denver Outlaws
Eric Law fits head coach BJ O’Hara’s offense like the Warrior Evo glove fits on Law’s hand. Alongside dodgers like Wes Berg and Jeremy Sieverts, Law has found his niche as a finisher. He has the sixth-best catch-and-shoot percentage in the league (45.83%) and is fifth in the league with 22 such goals. The Outlaw offense is built on both player and ball movement and Law is a master at both. The offense is at its best when initiated from up top (18.09 points per 45 possessions) or on the wings (16.81 points per 45 possessions) and then off-ball movement sets up open shooters. Watch Law find pockets in the defense off-ball and finish.
Another importance of Coach O’Hara’s offense is valuing the ball. Denver has three players within the top-15 in total assists, Matt Kavanagh, Zach Currier and of course, Eric Law. These three players are also three of the four players in the top-20 in assists that have an assist-to-turnover ration of more than 1. This means they throw one assist for every one turnover. Law, 20 assists to his 20 turnovers, also is third in the league in fast break assists where he also only has one turnover. Between the discipline to know when to throw the pass and the accuracy to get it there, Eric Law and the Denver offense put a high priority on valuing the ball.
Jordan Wolf, A, Rochester Rattlers
Jordan Wolf has been the leading scorer for the Rattlers the last three seasons. In 2017, Wolf fought through some injuries but was as productive as ever. Finishing the season with the second most points per game (5.0), Wolf found success, as always, as a dodger. Reportedly 5’9”and 170 pounds, Wolf used an astounding change of direction and fearlessness around the crease to lead the league with 26 unassisted goals. His patent-pending jump shot not only sent his team to the playoffs this year when he scored the game winning goal late in the fourth quarter in the regular season finale against Ohio but has made him one of the most dynamic scorers in all of Major League Lacrosse.
As great players always do, Wolf added another dimension to his game. In 2016, Wolf had 15 assists but 50 turnovers. On a team with scorers like Ty Thompson (12 assisted goals and a 54.55% in catch-and-shoot situations), Jesse King (21, 75.00%) and Jeremy Boltus (31, 46.27%), it was no wonder why Wolf was so eager to share the ball. However, a turnover rate of just fewer than three per game would not bring Rochester to playoff contention.
In 2017, Wolf tallied 16 assists and only 19 turnovers. Thompson (14 assisted goals), Boltus (19 assisted goals), and Jordan MacIntosh (12 assisted goals), all enjoyed the knack Wolf had for sharing the ball.
I believe Eric Law will win the 2017 Warrior Offensive Player of the Year. Although Jordan Wolf’s and Kieran McArdle’s seasons were very impressive, I feel that Law demonstrated every aspect of being a great offensive player while also exhibiting longevity and durability throughout the whole season.