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Archers Serve Atlas Top Draft Pick With Playoff Loss
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Archers Serve Atlas Top Draft Pick With Playoff Loss

Archers 11, Atlas 9

Considering how the game started, recapping an 11-9 victory for Archers is a tad surprising. Sure, the first game was 11-10, but Archers opened the rematch with a 4-0 scoring run that took less than four minutes to complete. Atlas was committing turnovers left and right, while Archers was dunking all over Jack goaltender Concannon. It quickly seemed like Archers would be running away with this one easily. On a sequence in the first quarter, Paul Rabil caught a rebounded shot, face-dodged twice rather than pulling the trigger on a still-recovering Drew Adams, and then forced a pass that became a turnover. Things looked bleak for Atlas, and I was already in the process of determining who I thought they’d be picking with their, suddenly on the table, No. 1-overall pick.

As Tom Schreiber racked up his fourth point in the second quarter to extend the lead to 6-1, I was mentally figuring out how to Photoshop a Michael Sowers jersey for Atlas when, at last, the Bulls came to life. Rob Pannell started playing like the vintage version, Connor Buczek drained a two-bomb, and suddenly the game was 8-6 at halftime. Sure, Concannon had a 27 percent save rate. Yes, Schreiber was playing like the best player in the world. Still, Atlas was alive, at least on the scoreboard.

Scott Ratliff’s second assist of the night to Will Manny extended the Archers lead out of halftime, but Atlas finally unleashed playoff Chris Cloutier to full effect. The former UNC star pounded out a hat trick of his own to keep Atlas within striking distance. It looked for a minute as though Rob Pannell had brought Atlas within one, but his diving goal was ruled a crease violation. Concannon, who struggled in the first half, came alive in the second, keeping measures close enough that, when Pannell did eventually complete his hat trick, Archers found themselves left with just a one-goal lead late in the fourth quarter.

Enter, once again, Ryan Ambler. Dodging on his own, he hit a stunning turnaround shot that Jules Heningburg called “the shot of the series” to put Archers back up two late. Drew Adams, playing the full game due to a lower-body injury to Adam Ghitelman, then came up with two huge saves, first stuffing Rabil on a mid range shot and then denying Eric Law on a diving attempt from X. A late timeout gave Atlas one final possession to try and tie the game up, but Ryan Brown’s two attempts from beyond the arc both skipped wide of the six-by-six. Archers proceeded to clear the ball, managing to drain the clock out and advance to the semis off an 11-9 final.

Atlas completes another disappointing season, exiting the PLL Championship Series 1-4 overall, their lone win coming by one against Waterdogs. They’ll enter the offseason with a lot of issues to fix. Their defense looked slow at times, and their offense lacked cohesion. This team has some problems with chemistry, and they’ll need to find ways to make both their defense and offense come together better for 2021. Their midfield, minus a bright future ahead for Bryan Costabile, looked old and iso-heavy. However, tonight’s loss does secure them the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft. Adding a guy like, say, Princeton’s Michael Sowers would give Atlas a terrifying young one-two punch with Costabile. We’ll have to wait a few months to see what Atlas does, but for now, we can see them to the exit of PLL Island.

Big Stats Guys

  • Tom Schreiber (Archers) 3G, 2A
  • Will Manny (Archers) 3G
  • Scott Ratliff (Archers) 2A, 3CT, 6GB
  • Rob Pannell (Atlas) 3G, 1A
  • Chris Cloutier (Atlas) 3G
  • Connor Buczek (Atlas) 1 2G, 1A
  • Craig Chick (Atlas) 3CT, 3GB
  • Cade van Raaphorst (Atlas) 2CT, 6GB

Man of the Match

As previously stated, the hero of the game was Tom Schreiber. There aren’t a lot of new things to say about this man, who has been an absolute beast since back in his Princeton days. Tonight, he put up a hat trick of singles, plus added two assists. Archers has found ways to use him as the PLL’s scariest sub weapon, and few things are scarier for a defense than watching him come out of the box without a set matchup. Tehoka Nanticoke even tweeted about how when Schreiber is marked by a short stick, get out of his way and let the man score.

It’s hard to disagree at this point.

A big shoutout to Will Manny, who returned to form nicely with a hat trick tonight, and Scott Ratliff, who remains one the most fun dudes in transition in the PLL. Archers, at its best, remains Schreiber’s show.

Achilles’ Heel

After becoming a household name with highlight goals and mind blowing passing in his first four games as a rookie, Grant Ament chose the worst time to go quiet. It hasn’t cost Archers yet, but the team really needs to dial in the six-on-six game to breakdown the suspect Chaos defense. Transition is the name of the Chaos game, so Archers can’t slip into a track meet with a team of NLL superstars. Instead, Archers need to take some air out of the game, work for one another and rely on the eagle eye vision of Ament help his squad eat.

Another missing piece for the quarterfinals was Adam Ghitelman resting due to a lower-body injury, allowing Drew Adams to get full-time. Ghitelman brings a jump start to the defensive core and his gambles out of the crease could hit a bigger jackpot against a less orthodox team like Chaos that might not be ready for the push.

Thursday’s Game

8 p.m. ET vs. No. 3 Chaos on NBC Gold

We’ll see Archers take on Chaos in a surprising semifinal matchup. Every game for Archers has been pretty tight so far, but it’s now within striking distance of the final, should the club overcome the underdogs. Multiple Archers had strong performances tonight, but their victory rests squarely on the broad shoulders of Captain America himself, Tom Schreiber, whose five points led all Archers tonight, and whose play just continues to amaze. Grant Ament, however, had a relatively quiet night, held to a single assist by Tucker Durkin. Archers will need him to come back into his early-series form for the semis.