Photo by Kevin Leclaire – UltiPhotos.com
Last season the D.C. Current featured a multifaceted offensive attack that opponents struggled to stop or even slow down.
D.C. had 18 players score in double digits in 2014, including seven players who produced 20-point seasons, a pair that notched more than 30 points and another two, Alan Kolick and Markham Shofner, who tallied 44 and 41 points, respectively, during the regular season. In total, D.C. scored a league-high 234 goals last year, ending up in the end zone on nearly 72 percent of their offensive possessions.
While those are some lofty numbers, the Current believe they can surpass them in 2015.
It won’t be easy however, as six players who finished with double digit point totals will not return to the squad in 2015. Combined, the team will be losing players that were responsible for more than 51 goals and 32 assists. While the team will need to adjust to those departures, there are plenty of worthy candidates who will step in to try and fill their cleats.
This season D.C. will feature several new faces in the middle and bottom third of their roster, but nearly all of the top offensive stars for the Current will return in 2015. That includes and is highlighted by the return of reigning Eastern Conference MVP Kolick and Championship Game MVP Shofner.
During the 2014 season, Kolick led the team and the league in a majority of offensive statistics. Leading the Current in points, Kolick was able to record 14 goals and finish tied for the league high in assists with 30. The lefty from William & Mary had a completion rate over 94 percent and while he was on the field, the Current were able to record 98-more points than their opponents, the highest plus/minus mark in the MLU. With all of these statistical accomplishments, Kolick was the near-unanimous choice for the Eastern Conference MVP in 2014.
His partner in crime, Shofner was the player who tied Kolick for most assists in 2014. During the season he was also able to tally 11 goals but the “Ginger Cannon” did most of his damage with his throws. There were very few situations where Shofner did not accompany Kolick on the field, but one cannot forget his performance on the biggest stage of them all.
During the MLU Championship Game Shofner had the difficult task of trying to fill-in for an injured Kolick, who suffered a broken wrist just over a week before the title game. In PPL Park, Shofner marched the Current to championship glory, leading the team in scoring with six points on four goals and two assists.
“[This season] we will look to be more disciplined in creating and using the live-side space, especially with the deep disc,” said Shofner.
Along with Kolick and Shofner the twin towers of Peter Prial and Jeff Wodatch will also be returning this season. Both Prial and Wodatch were known for their near superhuman skies and ability to seemingly always be open. Together they were the number one and two goal scorers for the Current during the regular season, with Prial tallying 23 goals and Wodatch finishing with 22. For Prial, his approach to the offensive system is going to be simple.
“The core tenants of the offensive system from last year are still in place – we are going to continue to focus on creating space for one another and outworking the other team’s defense,” he said.
Other core offensive players returning for the champs are the third year MLU veterans Brent Bellinger, Nate Castine, Calvin Oung and Tom Doi. While these players may not lead the Current in any statistical categories, the experience and leadership they represent is just as valuable as goals and assists. Every team will have their superstars but it is the core players that separate the good teams from the elite.
D.C. will also feature several new faces such as newcomer Chuck Cantone and familiar face to the Current family Johnathan Neeley. For those who have been fans since the beginning, Neeley was on the 2013 squad in the MLU’s inaugural season. During the 2013 season he recorded nine assists, which was good enough for the fifth-highest on the team.
While he may have experience as a handler, Head Coach Keven Moldenhauer hopes that Neeley can become an aggressive downfield cutter. Cantone meanwhile comes in with experience from last year in the AUDL. Moldenhauer expects Cantone to become the end zone workhorse of the Current.
A few defensive players will also switch to the O-line this season. Every player on the team is looking for Lloyd Blake to have a breakout season. Moving over from the defensive line to the O-line will not be difficult for Blake. As a force on the Current’s D-line he received numerous touches and tallied 15 points in 2014.
“Blake is a big guy with silky throws, and gives the team a great option to facilitate movement offensively,” said Shofner. “We’ll also likely look to get Lloyd more substantive touches.”
Overall, the core of the team’s offense will return to the field in 2015, with new players that have the opportunity to rise above the former players they are replacing. Repeating a championship is said to be harder than winning the first, but Prial and the team have no doubts.
“With the talent and the system we have in place, our offense is going to be difficult to stop this year once again.”
Join us at Cardinal Stadium this Sunday at 1:00 p.m. for the D.C. Current home opener versus the Boston Whitecaps. Tickets are on sale now!