How Pro Defenseman Matt Dunn Closes the Gate at GLE


This article appears in the April edition of US Lacrosse Magazine. Don’t get the mag? Join US Lacrosse today to start your subscription.

Three rights need not make a wrong.

When a right-handed attackman dodges to his right side from behind the goal against a right-handed defenseman, it puts that defenseman in the precarious position of having his stick down-field. This clears an easy path to the goal.

Or at least that’s what Matt Dunn wants you to think. In truth, he has you right where he wants you.

Dunn, the reigning MLL Defensive Player of the Year who will play for the Premier Lacrosse League’s Whipsnakes LC this summer, joined the U.S. player pool in the fall. He’s also vying for a spot on the U.S. indoor team. In this photo, he’s seen defending Yale’s Jackson Morrill during Team USA’s Fall Classic.

1. Trail the attackman.

Staying a half-step behind Morrill, Dunn is able to use his size and length (6-foot-3, 215 pounds vs. 6-foot-1, 190 pounds) to defend the feed or any shots up the hash, but still be in favorable position to defend a change of direction or inside roll.

2. Lead with your stick.

Morrill’s approach forces Dunn to defend to his cross-hand side. By engaging Morrill below goal line extended (GLE) and getting his stick head underneath the gloves, Dunn takes away his ability to feed or shoot a quick wraparound. “You should always play with your stick out in front to use its length to your advantage,’ Dunn says.

3. Follow with your body.

With his hands tied up, Morrill continues to drive toward GLE. Dunn allows Morrill to drift up his shaft and then engages him physically. “Here, I like to close the gate by swinging my left foot above GLE, getting my stick head across his and pointing my hips toward the back corner of the field,” Dunn says.

4. Beware the inside roll.

If you over-pursue the attacker on your cross-hand side, it opens up the inside roll. So if you can’t close the gate, the next-best option is to continue driving the attackman up the field and away from the goal, toward the top corner of the field, as Dunn demonstrates here. “In most instances, once the attackman advances about 7-10 yards up the hash, he will run out of space and end his dodge,” Dunn says.

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