After teasing and hyping it up for weeks, the PLL finally announced its 2021 schedule. With vaccines on the rise and the hope of a more normal summer on everyone’s minds, the PLL is once again returning to its traveling format, ditching the bubble from 2020 in favor of an 11-city tour that will have fans into the stands.
In probably the coolest part of the announcement, the league selected 11 sites with historical ties to Indigenous peoples, announcing the 2021 PLL schedule with a land agreement that goes through the history of those sites and allows for newly-minted PLL superstar Lyle Thompson to talk about the historical significance of the Indigenous ancestors who hail from the land. If there’s any one thing that I appreciate about the PLL over previous pro lacrosse leagues, it’s its commitment to respecting and honoring the historical roots of the game and bringing people back to something more closely resembling the respect for the Creator’s game that is found in the oldest lacrosse hotbeds.
With that said, we don’t just have the cities announced; we’ve got the matchups. So let’s take a look at some of the best games on the schedule, when and where they take place, and what we can expect.
2021 PLL Schedule – What to Watch For
June 4: Cannons vs Redwoods at Gillette Stadium (Boston, MA)
There are so many things going for this game. First, it’s the PLL’s debut game for 2021, meaning it’s the first action we’ll be seeing from these teams since the 2020 Championship Series. But it goes much deeper than that. We have not only the potential debut of Chris Hogan for the Cannons, but him doing so at the Patriots stadium where he once played in the NFL. Hell, it’s the debut of the Cannons in general as a PLL team, giving us our first look not only at their team but at former MLL stars like Lyle Thompson, Zach Goodrich, and Bryce Wasserman. For the Redwoods, it’s also the Trees debut for Rob Pannell after the blockbuster trade that sent him their way from Atlas.
June 5: Whipsnakes vs Chaos at Gillette Stadium (Boston, MA)
Talk about a 1-2 punch to kick off this 2021 PLL schedule. After the Cannons make their debut, we’ll be treated to a rematch of the 2020 championship game as the Whipsnakes take on Chaos. The Whips haven’t lost a game since 2019, so expect every single squad to give them their best possible shot in 2021. Things could be different this time, considering that Chaos has added Max Adler to go up against Joe Nardella this time around.
June 13: Chaos vs Archers at Kennesaw State University (Atlanta, GA)
It’s nice to see the PLL hitting up some of the old MLL cities. More importantly for this matchup, though, is the potential revenge game for Connor Fields. The former Albany star was one of the best players in the world in 2019, finishing as the MVP runner-up. He struggled in the two-week Championship Series in 2020, and the Chaos instantly gave up on him, trading him for backup midfielder Ian MacKay. I can’t promise Fields will regain his form, but we’re talking about a guy who dominated four years of college and a full season of PLL play, then had a shaky week and a half in the bubble during a global pandemic. My money would be on Fields coming into this game angry, motivated, and ready to ball.
June 27: Atlas vs Cannons at Homewood Field (Baltimore, MD)
Not only is this the first chance for Paul Rabil to play against Atlas after being traded to Cannons, but it’s also the return home after a long time away. Rabil, an absolute legend during his time at Hopkins, gets to come back and play at Homewood once again. Sure, he’s older now than he was in his prime, but if you would’ve told me at 14 that I’d one day be seeing Paul Rabil and Lyle Thompson playing together at Homewood Field, I would’ve probably passed out from excitement.
July 10: Whipsnakes vs Redwoods at TCO Stadium (Minneapolis, MN)
Arguably the two most populous fanbases. Typically the two best defenses in the PLL. Every time the Whips and the Trees meet, we’re in for a good game – these are always epic battles that finish within a goal or two.
This year’s matchup could be even more fun. Redwoods is all but assured to be selecting Denver’s TD Ierlan in the College Draft, meaning this will be the first matchup between reigning FOS of the Year Joe Nardella and the college GOAT in Ierlan. The Redwoods have also added Pannell, giving them an attack that’s arguably as stacked as the Whipsnakes’ group. Throw in the potential for this game, as the last before the All-Star Game, to be the make-or-break for some of these guys’ All-Star chances, and we seem to be in for a doozy.
July 18: PLL All-Star game at PayPal Park (San Jose, CA)
The return of the full regular season also marks the return of the PLL All-Star game, which will once again be played out west in California. I love it. The first PLL All-Star game was really fun, testing out a variety of new rules while showcasing the best field talent in the world out west, where so many fans have simply never had the chance to watch that level of lacrosse in person.
I’m hyped to see what rule changes they try this year. My top suggestions: play a quarter with women’s sticks, play a quarter with 90s era sticks, play the game with guys wearing their old college buckets.
August 1: Chaos vs Chrome at Weidner Field (Colorado Springs, CO)
Need I remind you what happened the first time Chaos played Chrome last season? Hint: the haunting hyena laugh is still bouncing around in my brain. For a lot of these matchups, I’m more talking about the actual lacrosse, but this is one of those games that allows the PLL to go full WWE on its marketing. Is this the game where Blaze Riorden finally beats Matt Gaudet to a Yale-degree-holding pulp? We’ll wait and find out.
August 14: Atlas vs Waterdogs at Casey Stadium (Albany, NY)
For whatever reason, we’ll have to wait two months into the schedule to get this matchup,which will put the No. 1 and No. 2 picks in the 2021 PLL College Draft up against one another head to head.
Barring a massive shocker, Atlas will be selecting Duke’s Michael Sowers with the No. 1 pick, while we’ll have to wait and see who declares in order to find out who the Waterdogs select. Still, everybody loves rookies, and this is our chance to catch the two most highly-regarded rookies in the same matchup. If, by some miracle, Chris Gray declares, this could also be the potential third round tiebreaker between Sowers and Gray, assuming UNC wins the rematch versus Duke in a few weeks.