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Logan Wisnauskas and 2024 top pick Brennan O'Neill fill similar roles on offense.

PLL Preview: Can O'Neill and Wisnauskas Coexist?

May 23, 2024
Phil Shore
Premier Lacrosse League

The 2024 Premier Lacrosse League season begins June 1 in Albany, N.Y. USA Lacrosse Magazine contributor Phil Shore is going team-by-team in the days leading up to the opener, previewing each club as we enter the home cities era of the PLL.

Denver Outlaws

2023 Record: 1-9
Head Coach: Tim Soudan
Assistants: Jacques Monte, Jeremy Boltus

Key Additions: Graham Bundy Jr., M; Brennan O’Neill, A; Jake Piseno, LSM; Luke Wierman, FO; Josh Zawada, A
Key departures: Jesse King (retired)
Holdouts: Brendan Nichtern, A (military)


How do Brennan O’Neill and Logan Wisnauskus play together?

While O’Neill was widely believed to be the best prospect in the 2024 College Draft, there was speculation Denver would pass on O’Neill in favor of Connor Shellenberger. The team had a need at the X attack position and already had a lefty attackman in Wisnauskus.

At the end of the day, though, Soudan wasn’t ready to pass on O’Neill, often described as a generational talent. O’Neill did play midfield for the U.S. in the 2023 world championship, and he was named the tournament’s MVP. As for having two lefties playing together on the Outlaws, Soudan isn’t worried about the fit.

“Logan isn’t Dyson Williams, but I think they’re similar,” Soudan said. “Early in possessions, O’Neill sometimes finds himself by GLE, but as possessions go on, he finds himself high. Logan finds himself from the wing into a high position on the crease and flash cuts. They do different things.”

Soudan said O’Neill is a hard guy to stop going to cage, something Denver needs. What he said O’Neill’s bigger issue will be is not practicing all week before a game, a big difference from his days at Duke, but they plan to give him the time he needs to adjust to playing at the professional level.

As for Wisnauskus, Soudan pointed to the 2023 All-Star Game when he scored four goals and had an assist as proof of what the third-year attackman can do when surrounded by players that can break down their opponents and move the ball, something he envisions O’Neill being able to do in 2024.

Will Sam Handley bounce back after a challenging rookie year?

Prior to the 2023 draft, Handley was a prime candidate to be the top pick in the league. With one of the most talented defensive classes in history, Handley fell to Soudan’s team at No. 5.

With Denver hoping to have a dominant dodging midfielder, the first-round pick struggled for much of the season.

Of the nine games Handley played, he failed to score a goal in three of them. He was held to one or fewer goals on six occasions.

Soudan said Handley experienced some burnout transitioning straight from the college season to the PLL. He also needed to figure out what the offense needed from him to be successful.

“I sat him, which was kind of embarrassing for him at one point,” Soudan added. “But when he came back, I think he really got what we were saying: dodge, get the double to come, move the ball, and he dodged to some good spots, rolled back, and scored.”

Denver needs Handley to break down his guys off the dodge to make the offense more efficient, but Soudan is optimistic he will be able to do so with a year of experience under his belt and less pressure placed upon him.

The battle at the faceoff position

Connor Farrell was one of the bright new stars when the PLL launched. As a rookie, he won 55 percent of his faceoffs and followed with a 62-percent winning percentage in 2020.

If you look at his faceoff winning percentage and that statistic only, Farrell had another strong year in 2023, winning 61 percent, the second-best total of his career. If you watched the games, however, Farrell struggled, as the shot clock was set at 32 seconds after winning a faceoff and teams sent out long poles at the faceoff stripe to harass him. Farrell had a career high in turnovers (16) and struggled to get the ball out of his stick.

Soudan said that should be easier in 2024 with the adjustment that players cannot take a faceoff with a long pole. That doesn’t mean he didn’t bring in competition, however. The Outlaws drafted Maryland’s Luke Wierman with the first pick in the fourth round.

Wierman holds the Terrapin record for faceoff wins and broke the program record for career ground balls as well. Soudan likes his ability to play with the ball in his stick.

“We’re going to have a little bit of a battle there,” he said. “Wierman can create. It’s not that Farrell can’t; if he pulls the ball out straight in front of him, and he goes down and shoots, he’s a good shooter. He’s effective that way. It’s going to be interesting to see how that all goes.”