Virginia’s Scott Bower might be one of the best young defensemen in the country. He’s 6-foot-3, 200 pounds and athletic enough that he led the state of Texas in sacks as an all-conference football player. But guarding Team USA’s Rob Pannell would be a torturous task for any first-year, as they're called in Charlottesville. Bower proved to be no exception on this sequence as captured at the Fall Classic in October.

With apologies to Bower, we asked Pannell for the play-by-play — how he set up at X and got Bower leaning with multiple fake rollbacks before scoring on a lefty wraparound. He responded with five keys.

Photos by Sam Brettschneider

1. Square up the defenseman

Pannell approaches Bower with shoulders squared, disguising the direction of his dodge.

2. Change speed, change directions

Pannell twice fakes the roll back to his right hand and accelerates as he nears goal line extended. “The more you do it, the more you have a chance of getting the step you need to get your hands free,” he said.

3. Dodge with your head up

Pannell remains a threat to feed and can anticipate slides even as he approaches to GLE.

4. Allow your stick to increase your angle

When he gets to GLE, Pannell extends his stick in front of him, giving him more net at which to shoot even though his body is not necessarily in ideal scoring position.

5. Change planes on the shot

Pannell starts high with his stick and shoots low, burying the ball before Virginia goalie Alex Rode can adjust.

This article originally appeared in the January 2020 print edition of US Lacrosse Magazine, an exclusive benefit for US Lacrosse members. We appreciate the support of our nonprofit organization through these challenging times by a making a donation or joining/renewing your membership with US Lacrosse. We look forward to continuing to share new and useful resources with the lacrosse community.