When the New York Riptide selected Jeff Teat with the first overall pick in the 2020 NLL Draft, they envisioned performances like they have seen throughout this season. Because of the pandemic, they had to wait an extra year to actually see it come to fruition, but as the saying goes, “good things come to those who wait”. The Riptide and their fans have certainly been rewarded for their patience as Teat is having a spectacular and historic rookie season.
That includes an electrifying nine-point game, with six goals (his first career sock trick) and three assists during this past Saturday’s 15-12 upset win over the Bandits in Buffalo. With that performance, Teat was named the NLL Rookie of the Week for the third time this season. Against the NLL’s top team in the Bandits this season, Teat has posted 21 points (9 goals and 12 assists) in two games.
“It was just one of those games where everything just kind of falls into place with a couple of good bounces your way,” said 24-year-old native of Brampton, Ontario. “I had a lot of guys supporting me and supporting each other. We had everybody involved from right when we got to the arena. I felt like everybody was ready to play and we came out with a win.”
Teat enjoyed a brilliant college career at Cornell University where he was a unanimous All-Ivy selection in 2018 and 2019 and finished his career with the Big Red third in school history with 268 points and 152 assists. He scored 72 points as a freshman in 2017 and then racked up 99 points during his sophomore campaign leading Cornell to the Ivy League Championship. Teat led Cornell in scoring during all four of his seasons with the Big Red.
He was a four-time Inside Lacrosse Media All-American and a three-time USILA All-American selection. In 2018, Teat was part of Team Canada and helped them to a silver medal at the FIL Men’s Lacrosse World Championships. Teat is now looking to sweep the Rookie of the Year honors in North America’s major lacrosse leagues after capturing those honors last season in the Premier Lacrosse League. He even led Major Series Lacrosse in points and goals in his first year with the Brampton Excelsiors in 2019.
Teat, despite missing two games early in the season because of COVID-19, is leading all NLL rookies in goals (31), assists (52) and points (83) and is among the favorites to win the league’s Rookie of the Year Award. He is on pace to set the single season rookie record in both assists (61 – Schreiber in 2017) and points (95 – Staats in 2015). Teat is leading the Riptide in scoring and he’s been a big reason why the team has been able to shake off a rough start to the season and begin to win games.
At 5-10, New York is still mathematically alive for a playoff berth but they would need to win their final three games and get some help. The Riptide would certainly be in a better spot had a few games gone their way, especially earlier in the season when the Riptide suffered three heartbreaking overtime losses at home. The Riptide also lost two other games by two goals and three games by three goals.
“It definitely would have been great to have those games back especially early on in the season,” said Teat. “I think we’ve grown a lot as a team and trying to find our identity. It’s definitely tough but still no excuse for coming out and losing games. One of the great things about our team is that we play hard throughout every single game that we have.”
In addition to the Riptide in the NLL and the Atlas in the PLL, Teat is also part of another team having joined Warrior this past November.
He’s thrilled to be associated with one of the premier lacrosse companies in the world.
“It’s been awesome,” said Teat. “Everything has just been extremely supportive. They take care of you in the best way they can. Off the floor, whatever they can do to make your performance better and your life easier, they can do that. The main thing of having the best equipment, the best gear and apparel at your advantage and being able to use that on the floor has been amazing.”
At a young age, Teat has certainly established himself as one of the faces of lacrosse and is starting to build up a strong fan base. Whether it’s in the box or on the field, Teat is overwhelmed by the number of fans, especially youth lacrosse players, who are wearing his jerseys and using the same Warrior lacrosse equipment that he uses.
“That’s definitely one of the more fun aspects of it is kids wanting to use your stuff, your equipment, your shoes or whatever it may be… they are there,” said Teat. “They’re yelling at you in-between periods or trying to get your attention on the bench or even just sending you a message off the floor like hey what do you use? When you got a team like Warrior in your corner, it’s the best on the market right now and it’s now easy for everybody to kind of pick up and use.”
There was certainly a lot of hype surrounding Teat when he turned pro and he has certainly lived up to all of the headlines and the expectations. He sits seventh in scoring (averaging 6.38 points per game) this season despite playing less games than everyone in front of him and has some amazing highlights to prove the hype. There are certainly different types of pressure for a professional athlete whether that player is a veteran or a rookie. From Teat’s standpoint, he understood what was going to be expected from him as he made the transition to the world of professional lacrosse.
“I would say there’s added pressure,” admitted Teat. “I think the step up from college lacrosse or junior lacrosse…anytime you take that step up there’s going to be a learning curve and you try to make that learning curve as short as possible.”
And now Teat will turn his attention to helping the Riptide finish the season strong. He is already a big part of the present for New York and will be a vital piece to their future as they hope to build the second-year franchise into a championship contender. Teat doesn’t need or expect to have a nine-point output every game, but his objective is to make everyone around him better.
“I think just the mindset of being a great teammate and doing your part to win the game is the goal of every night and after that everything else takes over,” said Teat. “There’s no extra emphasis on certain nights or certain plays or anything like that. You play to win, you play as being a great teammate and everything else falls into place after that.”
And the Riptide will keep fighting whether they stay in playoff contention or simply building momentum towards the 2022-23 season. The journey continues this Saturday as Teat and the Riptide look for their second straight victory and fourth in their last six games as they welcome the Rochester Knighthawks to the Nassau Coliseum (7:30pm ET ESPN+/TSN.ca).
“It’s definitely another test for us,” said Teat. “This is the third time that we’ve played this team. We’re 1-1 against them. They’re a team that is kind of in a similar position as us. I think the message stays the same and that’s putting our heads down and working hard.”
Jeff Teat has certainly been working hard as a rookie to establish himself as one of the brightest young stars in the National Lacrosse League. He’s playing with an organization in the Riptide that has their sights set on being a championship franchise and he’s playing in an arena that has a storied history. The NHL’s New York Islanders left the building for their new arena and took with them their four Stanley Cup championship banners and retired numbers.
Those rafters are now fairly empty but the Riptide organization expects to hang some championship banners of their own and they can envision a night way down the road when a “TEAT 51” banner is raised to the rafters.