Lords of Chaos, Archers Next to Fall on Unlikely Run

Chaos 13, Archers 9

The Chaos Cinderella run continues!

Following its 0-4 round robin record, Chaos have now topped the No. 2 seed Chrome in the first playoff game, and now Archers, 13-9. This game against Archers was still a surprise in many respects. Archers were boasting one of the best offenses in the league and were an extremely complete team. Chaos still only had the one good game, so it wasn’t a guarantee that they would have a repeat performance. But as this game went forward, Chaos was in control the entire time.

Even though Chaos steered this game from start to finish, there was only one brief tie, and Chaos never trailed. What’s also remarkable is neither team scored a two-pointer for this entire game, although Archers  attempted more as the fourth quarter was closing out. Archers were only able to score multiple goals in a row once, which was a three goal run in the third quarter spanning just about two and a half minutes. Outside of that, it all came one goal at a time. What really hurt Archers was the one-to-one fourth quarter. The club entered that final frame down four goals, and while they were the first to score, it still took about five minutes to do so and that was it.

What went wrong for the Archers in this one?

Early on, it wasn’t face-offs that were an issue. Archers actually were doing well in that department. Where Archers really struggled was in transition offense. In both fast breaks and substitution offense, it was committing way too many turnovers. Some were forced, some were just basic fumbling of passes when trying to setup the offense. It was not the typical crisp passing you normally see from this team. With Jack Rowlett doing a great job on Grant Ament, Archers needed initiation from elsewhere, and that’s where Tom Schreiber did a great job stepping up. The other wrinkle that proved to be effective was Joey Sankey inverting behind the net to setup some looks from X. This actually created two different goals from Marcus Holman.

The Archers defense was also regularly causing turnovers and doing well individually. Chaos was scoring goals in unsettled situations, and some ridiculous goals like Josh Byrne’s highlight reel marker. It was just doing a great job taking advantage of any opportunity it had. What Ryan Boyle was saying regularly on the broadcast was how the Chaos are now running a box midfield line and an “American” midfield line. The second one is what’s giving this team some very interesting looks and the two lines are very different to defend. What you see when Jake Frocarro and Sergio Salcido are on the field is significantly more midfield-centric looks. Frocarro was doing a lot more change of direction and roll dodging in the last game, but was looking at more downhill and alley dodging in this one. But when either of these players is dodging, their teammates give them room, forcing slides to come from a greater distance, and this opens up the passing lanes when a shot isn’t there. For Frocarro, this directly led to two assists, both coming off of alley dodges on opposite sides of the field to a skip pass each time.

In total, nine different Chaos athletes contributed in the unlikely win. This includes a pair from the completely quiet Eric Scott, netting his first goals of the season in the win. Curtis Dickson led the way with the cleanest hat trick he’s completed all season, but the highlight reel plays Josh Byrne was connecting on would overshadow him. Dhane Smith, Austin Staats, Miles Thompson, Mark Glicini, Pat Resch and Salcido all chipped in a solo shot, capping off the most well-rounded game we’ve seen from Chaos yet, despite nearly going for 20 goals in the quarterfinal. Keeping everyone engaged will be a key to turning their late-season momentum into a trophy hoist.

Big Stats Guys

  • Josh Byrne (Chaos) 2G, 3A
  • Curtis Dickson (Chaos) 3G, 1A
  • Blaze Riorden (Chaos) 18 Saves, 67%
  • Marcus Holman (Archers) 3G
  • Eli Gobrecht (Archers) 3CT, 5GB

Man of the Match – Jack Rowlett , Chaos

There are several players to choose for this one. Last game, I went with Blaze Riorden over Dhane Smith. Blaze was absolutely in the running again, as was Josh Byrne and Jack Rowlett. Riorden was excellent between the pipes, racking up 18 saves, good for 67 percent. There weren’t many two-pointers attempted, but there were a fair number deep ones. He saved nearly every single one of those. He also had several doorstep saves, keeping Archers at bay.

On the other end of the field, Josh Byrne was nothing short of electric. Finishing the game with two goals and three assists, he also had what may be the game of the tournament. While guarded, he shot a one handed between the legs shot to the far pipe. He even did this when it was just a one goal game. That goal also kicked off a four score spree, with Byrne having a hand in three of them, to close out the half and build up a lead they never gave up.

But for me, Rowlett is the one who should get enormous attention for what he did in this game. His stat line? one ground ball. The more important stat line? Grant Ament: two assists, zero-for-two shooting, three turnovers. Rowlett drew the task of trying to contain the rookie sensation and he was ready. All through round robin play, Ament was a catalyst for the Archers offense. Whether initiating from X, or bumping up to the wing, his ability to find the open player was critical to everything they did. Rowlett wasn’t face guarding Ament, either. But Ament’s dodges rarely produced anything, and they were not able to pick off of him often, either. Rowlett was able to disrupt the flow of the Archers offense and it it was glaringly apparent on their result.

Achilles’ Heel

The Achilles’ here for this team is going to be face-offs. After the game, Chaos head coach Andy Tower said the unquestionable MVP of the game was Tommy Kelly, who turned in a 14-of-26, 54 percent, day at the midline. It speak volumes to how much of a struggle he has been having this series that a final line like that deserves so much praise. But, it was warranted in this game. Kelly really was winning the clamp regularly in this game, never had a violation, and saw three different players going against him. He won every fourth quarter face-off, and five of his wins came after Archers goals, which helped eliminate chances of expanding upon scoring runs, of which it only had one. Looking forward to a potential matchup with league leader Joe Nardella, this could spell big trouble for the Chaos.

PLL Championship Quick Preview

Sunday, August 9th | 12:30 p.m. vs. No. 1 Whipsnakes on NBC

No matter how the second semifinal game turned out, it was going to be a rematch for the Chaos. They lost to Whipsnakes, 12-7, in the round robin games, and to Redwoods, 8-7. Between both of those games, Connor Fields accounted for just a single point, which was a goal against the Redwoods. No assists, ground balls, or turnovers in either one, and just three shots. This has developed into one of the most fascinating storylines of the Championship Series. Andy Towers has told anyone that will listen that Connor Fields is the best player in the world, yet he hasn’t played a single minute in the playoffs so far, nor is he listed on the injury report. It’s a puzzling gap, but the offense his humming along without him.

Once Whipsnakes won their games against Redwoods in overtime, Chaos knew what they would have to deal with. In their first meeting, Whipsnakes generated 32 shots on goal, and Tommy Kelly won just four face-offs. Possessions are going to matter so much more for Chaos because Whipsnakes are not going relent in their pursuit of the second straight trophy. The big question will be, can the new Chaos offense keep their magic going for just one more game and convert as many opportunities as possible? It’s going to be fun to find out.

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