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Josh Byrne will be a focal point of a new-look Chaos offense in 2024.

PLL Preview: How Will the Chaos' New-Look Offense Come Together?

May 22, 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.

Carolina Chaos

2023 Record: 5-5
Head Coach: Andy Towers
Assistants: Jamie Hanford, Matt Panetta

Key Additions: Eric Dobson, M; Jules Heningburg, A/M; Shane Knobloch, M; Sergio Perkovic, M; Kevin Rogers, M; Ross Scott, A
Key departures: Kevin Lindley, A
Holdouts: Chris Cloutier, A; Dhane Smith, M; Ryan Smith, M


No overlap with the NLL means a full roster from the start of the season.

In 2023, the Chaos were missing six players, all whom played on the NLL’s Buffalo Bandits, for the start of the season as the Bandits competed for the championship. Over the previous few seasons, it was par for the course for some of the most important players on the team’s roster, and it often resulted in slow starts.

The Bandits made the NLL Finals once again in 2024, but this year’s title will come at much less of a cost to the Chaos. The Bandits won the championship in two games, wrapping up the season May 18.

Towers is excited to have everyone on the roster at the start of training camp instead of having guys trickling in throughout the year.

“My first year, I think we had one attackman in camp,” he said. “My third year, when we won the championship, I want to say we had everybody at camp that year. My fourth year, we were missing like eight guys, and we still made it to the playoffs, but we qualified for the playoffs with a 2-8 record. We went in as the last team. … We were able to get connected but not until the very end, literally the last moment to save our season.”

The Chaos have never won the first game of the season. Towers is hopeful that without an overlap with the NLL, he can finally have his 25-man roster and 19-man gameday roster figured out before the team opens against the Outlaws to get them started on the right foot.

Will Jules Heningburg experience a resurgence back at attack?

Heningburg’s 2019, his second year as a pro, was his best with career highs in points (33), one-point goals (21) and assists (12). After missing the 2020 season, however, he moved to midfield in 2021. While he was an All-Star in 2021 and 2022, Heningburg’s production has dropped every year, bottoming out to a 12-point season — with a career-worst 23-percent shooting percentage — in 2023.

When it was announced that Heningburg was officially joining Carolina, he posted that he “couldn’t be more excited for the next chapter” with the hashtag “attack,” hinting at a move back to his original position.

Josh Byrne has one of the attack positions locked down. There’s no other guarantee, however, leaving plenty of opportunities for Heningburg to earn a spot where he seemed to be at his best.

How does the new-look offense gel?

For the first few years of the PLL, the Chaos were known for the plethora of box players on the offensive side of the field and a style of play that reflected those strengths. Towers said, however, as more Canadians came into the league, teams were better able to prepare for the Chaos, resulting in an offense that struggled for the past two years.

Losing by six to the Redwoods in the quarterfinals, as well as Cloutier, Dhane Smith and Ryan Smith being unavailable for 2024, made it easy for Towers to make some big changes.

In free agency and the draft, Towers looked to bring in players that he felt would thrive in a positionless offense, that could play two ways, were good feeders and that were able to hit two pointers. Because the team brought in more two-way midfielders that can get in the hole, Towers said the team won’t need to dress four short-stick defensive midfielders like it did last year, giving Towers two extra roster spots to utilize.

Still, Towers is curious to see which 13 offensive players in camp play on man-up or even dress every game.

“Who’s going to be coming into camp in the best shape of their lives?” he said. “Who is going to make the right play with consistency? Who is going to embrace the principles of our offense? What is going to be the most dangerous combination of players? That’s all unknown. These guys haven’t played together very much.”