The offseason has and will continue to bring lots of change within the Premier Lacrosse League. Whether it’s expansion, new markets or player and coaching changes, the league has already made significant waves in preparation for the 2020 season.
One of the biggest changes was the movement on the coaching side. Dom Starsia elected to step down as coach and join the PLL advisory board so the league hired Tim Soudan to coach Chrome LC. Likewise, John Paul chose to step down from his role as head coach of Atlas LC, and Ben Rubeor was hired to take his spot. The biggest move was the addition of Waterdogs LC as the seventh lacrosse club in the league. This marked the first time an expansion team joined the league and to lead them, the league hired Andy Copelan.
Pro Lacrosse Talk takes a look at each coach’s background and what makes them the ideal fit to helm their respective PLL teams.
Tim Soudan was most recently the head coach of the Rochester Rattlers from 2011 to 2017 but elected not to remain with them after the franchise moved to Dallas following the 2017 season. While in Rochester, he was named MLL Coach of the Year in 2014 and led the Rattlers to back-to-back MLL Championship appearances in 2014 and 2015.
Before that, Soudan had a pretty extensive playing career. After graduating from UMass in 1991, where he was an All-American, Soudan played in both the NLL and MLL. In the NLL he had an illustrious career with the Rochester Knighthawks most notably and was elected into the team’s Hall of Fame in 2009.
His experience as a coach in the MLL should help him tremendously, in particular because many of the players that he coached with the Rattlers are members of this Chrome team. This includes Jordan Wolf, Joel White, Jordan MacIntosh, John Ranagan and John Galloway among others.
As leader of the Chrome, Soudan will try to change the team’s fortunes after their 2-8 regular season record last year.
Now you might be thinking “Wasn’t he just playing?” It feels like yesterday that Rubeor was running up and down the field at Virginia, but this year he will be leading the Atlas as head coach. At Virginia, he was a standout attackman under coach Dom Starsia, racking up 136 goals and 212 points with the latter being good for sixth all time in Virginia history. He was also notably a two-year captain and won a national championship during his time in Charlottesville.
Upon graduating in 2008, he played in the MLL briefly for the then Long Island Lizards and Washington/Chesapeake Bayhawks, where he won three MLL titles (2010, 2012, 2013) and a championship MVP honor (2012). In 94 career games, Rubeor scored 138 goals, one two-point goal and 53 assists.
Rubeor began his coaching career in the Maryland area in 2012 where he took over at St. Mary’s (Annapolis, Md.) as head coach. During his three-year stint, he was able to lead the Saints to one conference title.
After his stint at St. Mary’s and retiring from the MLL, he returned to his alma mater, Loyola Blakefield (Towson, Md.) and took over as their head lacrosse coach in 2015. It was during his three year stint that he became known as one of the best high school coaches in the state of Maryland and was able to lead the Dons to a conference title as well. In 2018, he made the decision to move to the Boston area to be closer to family.
Upon moving to Boston, he served as the offensive coordinator of the Boston Cannons in the MLL for two seasons. One of the players that he had an impact on during his time with the Cannons was Bill O’Brien, who made the transition to the field game after being an impact player in the box game for many years.
“His intensity, passion and knowledge of the game is second to none. He brings a presence wherever he goes that demands the best out of each player,” said O’Brien.
“More than playing or coaching, he’s the type of man you want to surround yourself with because he challenges you to be better. Paul Rabil is arguably one of the most intelligent lacrosse players to do it, and he essentially just got the ‘Bill Belichick of lacrosse’ to coach his team.”
Based on those sentiments, it’s hard to imagine Rubeor not being able to turn things around for an Atlas team that finished 5-5 during the regular season last year.
Andy Copelan is officially the first head coach of an expansion team in PLL history, as he will lead the newly announced Waterdogs this summer.
Copelan will be taking over the Waterdogs after recently stepping down as head coach for the Fairfield University Stags. During his 11-year stint as their coach, he coached a variety of different players including PLL pros Brent Adams and Charlie Cipriano (the latter who he could take in the upcoming expansion draft).
Before his time with the Stags, Copelan served as head coach for Marist College from 2004 to 2006 then became an assistant at Maryland from 2006 to 2009. During the mid-2000s, he was a great recruiter for the Terps and able to recruit many of the players that helped the team make deep runs in the NCAA tournament.
It will be exciting to see the moves that Coach Copelan makes in the upcoming expansion draft on February 12, and entry and college drafts following that. He has the unique opportunity of being the first coach to build his team from scratch, and along with his staff, will look to form a Waterdogs team that is ready to compete in the PLL this summer.
With that being said, it will be exciting to see the work of all these new coaches and their staffs as they make moves to complete their teams and have them ready to battle it out for the PLL championship this summer.