MLL Rookie Focus: Wes Berg

Photo Credit: Ian Neadle

“With the 16th overall pick in the 2015 MLL Collegiate Draft, the Denver Outlaws select Wes Berg, offensive player, Denver University.”

Wes Berg as a player goes well beyond statistics. His biography on the Denver University roster page is glittering and shining with numerous awards, milestones and honors. His play progresses consistently every year, as reflected in his stats.

But we cannot just hold him to those statistical perceptions. What makes Wes Berg?

Watch game film of this guy and every single appearance shows a different strength or ability of his. He never does the same thing twice, which leaves defenders on their heels much of the time. (Read paragraphs below to follow highlights of video, Berg is #14 Denver)

In the semifinal game last season against Duke, Berg had five different goals. The first goal reflects his size and speed. This guy is 6’1” and 180 pounds. That seems average for a D-I NCAA lacrosse player, but Berg has a way of turning his body into a defensive presence with an attackman’s shot. He’s fast but can’t can’t be pushed aside. Can free his arms and get great angle shots where goalies normally expect a player to turn around.

Because of his size, when he breaks down a wing for a shot like in highlight two of the above video, defenders chase him obviously. However, they (D) seem to stall just a tad in case Berg cuts back last minute. His size won’t negatively impact his movements, and he never does things twice (again). Defenders are almost left in a double-reaction stage.

In highlight No. 3 above, Berg is used as a pick-and-roll, but truly shows his deception skills. He’s able to alienate himself from a play seemingly inactive in it, then BAM! pops into play for a catch and wide open shot. Defenders, like, forgot he was there!

Shot No. 4 is just straight up dirty. The No-Look-Over-The-Shoulder. Made classic by Miles and Lyle Thompson in the same season (2014). Berg cuts to the crease, the defender can’t seem to push him away (size) and he completely throws the goalie off guard. That’s basic lacrosse instinct there, having field awareness, all round stick skills and indoor experience (keeping from being pushed away and working in tight spaces).

Shot No. 5 showcases his field awareness and speed. He’s able to burn right past defenders but stay high enough to avoid a coma slide, low enough so defending midfielders think there IS a coma slide coming.

Berg’s demonstrated all these assets throughout his playing career. In the semifinals, he happened to use quite a few of them.

Overall, Berg is an ideal MLL candidate: Canadian born and trained, American living now, dynamic college coach guiding him, pure lacrosse IQ and awareness, and natural (lucky) size, stature, and speed. Combine it all together and add in a little personality, you’ve got a lacrosse player just short of Superman.

Assuming all career paths in Berg’s future leave room and energy for MLL participation, I see no reason why he wouldn’t confirm his candidacy post-graduation and play professionally.