If you took a quick glance at the standings of the PLL’s inaugural season, one would find Chrome LC at the bottom with a 2-8 regular season record. But a deeper dive would show a Chrome squad that found themselves on the wrong side of four one-goal games.
The club was already entering an offseason littered with big player personnel decisions to be made. With Dom Starsia stepping down to take on a larger role with the PLL advisory board, Chrome LC was also in the market for another strong presence to man the sideline for the veteran-laden squad. Que the hiring of Tim Soudan.
Tim Soudan is no stranger to leading a professional franchise, serving as head coach of Major League Lacrosse’s Rochester Rattlers from 2011 to 2017. During his time with Rochester, Soudan helped lead the Rattlers to back-to-back championships, ultimately falling in both contests. His success turning around that franchise in their return to Rochester landed him Coach of the Year honors in 2014.
Soudan is now ready to take on his next challenge after a two year hiatus from the pro ranks. While this will be year one for Soudan in the PLL, he will have some familiar faces suiting up for him this summer, many that helped build the winning culture he left in Rochester. Soudan is reunited with six of his former players during his time with the Rattlers, including starting goalie John Galloway and PLL all-star Jordan Wolf.
“There’s some unfinished business for sure. When you lose back-to-back championships, it’s certainly tough…But having a foundation on this team that is built around the culture we had [in Rochester] is only going to speed up the ability to build a great culture with everybody here.”
After submitting his protected players list earlier in the offseason, Soudan’s next major decision came in the form of the new player entry draft. With a laundry list of potential talent, Soudan weighed multiple factors when preparing for the draft.
“If you looked at where our success was last year, it was at the offensive end of the field, so we heavily protected our offensive guys. After [Waterdogs LC] took [Chris] Sabia in the expansion draft, we had a lot of older defenseman. We needed to get younger there. We needed to put together a really solid defensive group in order to be successful in this league.”
Soudan and Chrome LC did just that, drafting defender Jesse Bernhardt with the second pick in the first round, and defensive midfielder, Donny Moss with their second selection, ninth overall.
A current member of Team USA, Jessse Bernhardt is no stranger to the pro game having played the previous seven seasons with the Chesapeake Bayhawks of the MLL. Bernhardt was a stalwart on the defensive end, helping lead the Bayhawks to two Steinfeld trophies during his tenure including the franchise’s sixth this past summer. Bernhardt will now join his brother Jake as one of several sets of brothers currently suiting up for the PLL.
The other veteran the Chrome added, Donny Moss, is no stranger to Soudan’s coaching style. Moss played a pivotal role in helping Rochester advance to the MLL Championship in 2015 and Coach Soudan spoke about Moss’s versatility playing a main factor in the club’s selection of the six-year vet.
“Donny is probably one of the most underrated defensive midfielders over the last five or six years. He’s a big, strong kid that can run and played long pole in college. He can play d-middie, he can play close. He’s a Swiss army knife. The more guys you can have like that, the better… we wouldn’t want to see him on any other team buy ours.”
The loss of Chris Sabia wasn’t the only reason Soudan felt it was necessary to replenish his defensive talent during the entry draft. With questions still left unanswered as to what lies ahead for future pros after the cancellation of the NCAA season, it was important to Soudan to solidify that side of the ball before the collegiate draft in April.
“Even if we wanted to grab a Rob Pannell and use our fourth pick in the college draft to take one of the best defenders in college (Duke University’s J.T Giles-Harris), he’s rumored to be going to play football. When the dust settled, they were the two guys we were interested in.”
With a large majority of his team in place, Soudan has already begun to get to know those players he isn’t as familiar with.
“I’ve been watching a lot of film lately to try and get a feel for these younger guys that I’ve never coached before. I want to see what their abilities are and then have discussions with them to see what guys feel they do best. We’re going to have weekly communication before we get to training camp and make sure we have stuff ready that’s appropriate for them.”
As for players Soudan is reuniting, such as John Galloway, John Ranagan, Jordan MacIntosh and Joel White, he says he’s maintained a relationship with them even during the two years he wasn’t coaching.
“Those guys always call me, ‘Coach, talk to me about this, or whatever.’ They stay in touch and hit me with a text here and there. I think I talk with Joel White almost daily. It’s been cool,” Soudan said.
While Coach Soudan is entering his first season with the Chrome in the PLL, he assures that his coaching philosophy hasn’t changed.
“I want to provide these guys the best opportunity to win… I just want to create a really good opportunity for these guys to be successful,” Soudan said. “The culture has to be really good. These guys invest so much time away from their homes and weekends in the summer, that they have to really enjoy coming and being a part of what we do… I’m really looking forward to getting to training camp with all those guys.”