Duke in the PLL: Michael Sowers leads Waterdogs to championship, CJ Costabile falls short with Chaos

Michael Sowers won the 2022 PLL Championship with Waterdogs.
Michael Sowers won the 2022 PLL Championship with Waterdogs.

With the 2022 PLL season in the books, the Blue Zone takes a look at the Blue Devils who plied their trade on both sides of Sunday's championship game:

Michael Sowers, Attack, Waterdogs Lacrosse Club

In the past few weeks of the PLL, many former Duke players have been making names for themselves just as they did in Durham. Michael Sowers, who led the Blue Devils to a 2021 NCAA Final Four appearance with 37 goals and 44 assists after his transfer from Princeton, has continued this same level of talent for the Waterdogs Lacrosse Club, where he was drafted second overall after his graduation the same year. Sowers started his PLL career playing just one game and scoring two goals in the 2021 season due to injury, but as soon as the league started this summer, Sowers shot to life. 

In the 2022 season, he scored 21 goals and facilitated 11 assists for the Waterdogs, helping the team to a 5-5 record and a place in the Playoffs. Overcoming betting odds which gave the Waterdogs an 11% chance to win the championship, Sowers helped keep the team in the game with a major goal in the last 25 seconds of the first period. In the second period, he facilitated an assist that led to a goal by Ryan Conrad, which he followed up with another goal in the first few minutes of the third period. This epic play by Sowers and the rest of the squad led to a thrilling 11-9 victory against the Chaos. Due to the attacker’s two-goal, one-assist role in the Waterdogs’ comeback victory, he was named Finals MVP, adding another accolade to an already extensive wrap sheet that includes finishing fourth in the league in goals. 

CJ Costabile, LSM, Chaos Lacrosse Club

On the other side of the field from Sowers, CJ Costabile, who graduated from Duke in 2012, and helped lead the Blue Devils to an appearance in the 2011 and 2012 NCAA semifinals, was an important piece for the Chaos. Most notably, Costabile was the X-factor for Duke’s first national championship win in 2010, where the long stick midfielder not only won the face off in overtime, but proceeded to bypass all of Notre Dame's defense for a slinger right into the goal for the game winner. Costabile was a crucial component of Duke’s program from 2009-2012 and he proceeded to carry his talents over to professional lacrosse, being selected fifth in the first round of the MLL draft to the Chesapeake Bayhawks.

Throughout Costabile's many years in the league, both MLL and PLL, he racked up an impressive accolade of two All-Star appearances and two championships. He began his career with the Bayhawks scoring three goals and winning 20 ground balls in his rookie year. A decade later with the Chaos, his performances have increased dramatically, with nine points and 29 ground balls. While not scoring or assisting in the championship game against the Waterdogs, the midfielder won a ground ball and provided tremendous support to his team on both sides of the field. Alas, the Waterdogs edged the Chaos out of repeat titles and came out on top, denying Costabile his third professional trophy in the process.


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