By Paul Ryan & Marco Rosa | 12/10/13 3:00 PM
The MLL Player Pool has always had a number of notable names in advance of a Supplemental Draft. Names like Kevin Cunningham, Casey Powell, and Jeremy Sieverts have been selected in various supplemental drafts and gone on to establish themselves the following season as some of the best lacrosse players in the league.
This year’s Player Pool is no different and one name stands out above all the 506 names eligible to be drafted. Devon Wills has been one of the best goalkeepers in the women’s game, establishing records at Dartmouth and helping the U.S. Women’s team win two FIL World Cup Titles and earning several accolades along the way.
We reached Wills at her current job as an assistant coach and defensive coordinator at the University of Southern California to hear her thoughts about the possibility of being drafted.
“As a little kid my dream, like most kids, was to become a professional athlete,” said Wills. “I was approached by some people to consider entering the player pool and I thought it would be a great learning experience. It was a chance to help grow the game that I couldn’t pass up.”
As standout at Dartmouth, Wills made a name for herself as a big-time player. She currently sits second on the school’s all-time saves list (538) and posted a 7.14 goals against average throughout her college career. She was named to the All-Ivy First Team three times and an All-American three times as well. As a senior in 2006, she led the Big Green to its first NCAA title game, where they fell short 7-4 against Northwestern University.
Wills is often described as an unorthodox goalie, who doesn’t sit back in the net and wait for the play to come to her. She’ll try to intercept passes, she’ll run far outside her crease and she’s not afraid to throw some body checks as well. Something she’s learned along the way while watching goalies from both the men’s and women’s game.
“I looked up to many goalies growing up,” she continued. “Chris Sanderson was one that I admired in terms of his out of the cage play. It is something I tried to take into the women’s game. I am always wowed by many goalies at all levels whether it be NCAA, MLL or International.”
Wills has been in the U.S. Lacrosse Player pool since 2007 participating in two FIL World Cups and backstopping the U.S. National Team to two Gold Medals including the most recent win over Canada this past summer when she was also named to the FIL World Cup All-World Team. In 2009 she earned Player of the Match honors in the championship game, making eight saves while allowing just five goals in the U.S. team's win over Australia.
“It was an incredible honor [to win the gold medals] but in terms of the numbers I posted, it was a testament to the defense and their hard work in making me look good,” she said about her experience at the World Cup.
Wills embraces the possibility of being drafted and playing in the MLL knowing full well about the challenges ahead and what it would mean to her, her potential team and the game in general.
“I’m at a point in my life where I want to continue to strive and better myself and my game whether it’s training or playing,” she said. “It would be a huge adjustment in terms of the speed of the game and the angles of the shots. I think I would definitely bring a different perspective to the teams knowing full well that there would be an adjustment period, but I think that it would be an adjustment also for my potential teammates and opponents in seeing a different approach to the game and the position.”
Should she be selected in the Supplemental Draft on Wednesday, the MLL would welcome the opportunity to have her play in the League.
“The MLL is about having the best players in the world playing in our league,” said MLL Commissioner David Gross. “If a team deems Devon worthy of being drafted, we fully welcome her being given that opportunity and would look forward to having her suit up and play next season.”
Tune in to Majorleaguelacrosse.com to catch live updates from the 2014 MLL Supplemental Draft and to see if Devon gets selected by a team.