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PLL Championship Series Day 1 - Recaps, Video + MORE
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PLL Championship Series Day 1 Recap – MAKE PICKS | Video | MORE

Editor’s Note: The Day 1 recaps and insight for the PLL Championship Series were co-authored by Ryan Conwell, Nick Zoroya and Mark Donahue.

Day one of the 2020 PLL Championship series is in the books and all the mic’d-up, body-smashing, goal-rattling action we could handle was packed into two great match-ups.

The defending champs kicked things off by holding on to the bragging rights from the title game. The bottom feeders of 2019 made a statement to follow behind a loud-mouthed rookie chirping his way onto the professional lacrosse circuit.

Welcome to the best part of your summer.

PLL Standings after Day 1





























Big Stats Guys

  • Garrett Epple (Redwoods) 4CT, 5GB
  • Pat Harbeson (Redwoods) 3CT, 2GB
  • Michael Ehrhardt (Whipsnakes) 4CT, 7GB, 1A
  • Joe Nardella (Whipsnakes) 15/22FO, 68%, 6GB, 2G
  • Jordan Wolf (Chrome) 3G, 1A
  • Mike Manley (Chrome) 2CT, 4GB
  • Sam Duggan (Chrome) 1G, 2CT, 2GB
  • Connor Farrell (Chrome) 19/24FO, 79%, 7GB
  • Connor Fields (Chaos) 3G, 1A
  • Curtis Dickson (Chaos) 3G, 1A
  • Jarrod Neumann (Chaos) 1CT, 5GB

Whipsnakes LC 12, Redwoods LC

In a rematch of the 2019 PLL Championship, the Redwoods LC faced the Whipsnakes LC to open up the 2020 PLL Championship Series. Last year’s outing resulted in a 12-11 overtime victory for the Whips, crowning them the first-ever PLL champions.

The most glaring issue today seemed to be the inability of the ‘Woods to win the ball at the stripe. They lost 70% of the draws as they desperately looked for Greg Gurnelian’s replacement. Pro lacrosse veteran Greg Puskuldjian struggled going 2-of-13, before first year pro Peyton Smith came in and cleaned up 5-of-8. Look for the team to play Smith a little more moving forward, but Pusk is a player that will turn the taste of blood into game fuel.

Offensively the Whipsnakes enjoyed the presence of their new attackmen Zed Williams who scored a hat trick in his PLL debut. Nine, no, NINE different players scored for the Whipsnakes. Maybe the biggest spark plug of that pack was a middie that sniped two tallies and just so happened to take, and dominate, face-offs (70%), Joe Nardella.

Unsurprisingly, Nardella is an easy nod for game-changer. Tack on six  ground balls to hid already insane stat line, and he’s the only focused face-off specialist, his presence guarantees more possessions for the team and a shot of life from the midline.

Not looking in championship form, but with the potential to get there quickly, the defensive trio of Matt Dunn, Timmy Muller and Bryce Young cleaned up the end of the game nicely in front of calm, collected Kyle Bernlohr who stood on his head at times through the contest. 15 stops and a 68% save percentage is remarkable from this league and while he did allow two 2-bombs, that was a fixable fault of his own, not a defensive breakdown.

The Whips strategy looks simple moving forward: keep doing your thing, but never allow 21 turnovers again.

The Redwoods need to find one consistent voice on defense to tighten up a group that seemed lost early in front of a not so stellar Tim Troutner, only able to block 43% of the 23 shots he face, but came closer together as the game wore on. The offense is going to need to speed up as well. At times it felt like too many guys were trying to do too many things.

Right now, the Chaos are getting the better end of the Myles Jones-Sergio Salcido deal. Coach Nat St. Laurent is going to need to find ways to set up the massive midfielder to fit into plays, not just Jones running them on his own. Jones got respect on his one goal, getting his man to assume he would pull up from deep, tucking past him and burying a closer shot. These plays are only going to work down the road when the defense is more concerned about other threats. If eyes can get pulled in other directions, Jones can be an all-star, but alone, he’s not ready to change the game.

Emotions ran hot and focus on officiating couldn’t be shaken off by Coach St. Laurent and offensive weapon Ryder Garnsey. The negative energy filled the keep with seeds of doubt sprouting into consistent miscommunication and poor decision makings. While 2-point launches from Kyle Harrison and Sergio Salcido proved how dangerous the ‘Woods can be even spread out, the lack of focus and finish from Garnsey needs to grow from one assist to a series of numbers in the books and that starts with focus.

 Chrome LC 13, Chaos LC 9

The Chrome took the 2019 highest scoring team in the league and held them to just nine goals.

This is even more impressive with even more potent weapons worked into the Chaos mix. Where that causes concern is while the fast pace Chaos version of lacrosse leads to a ton of points early on, they also couldn’t crack 10 points in the playoffs or their last game of the season. That’s not the part of last year they wanted to carry over. The silver lining for the Chaos is that everything that went wrong here is fixable.

Tommy Kelly probably won’t go 28% for face-offs on the the whole series. Blaze Riorden probably won’t average 43% saves, either. Even if he does, they have all-world Dillon Ward at the ready, who arguably should have been sent in during that abysmal second half.

But wait, this NLL All-Star team of a Chaos offense only scored nine?

They can still move the ball. Connor Fields is still Connor Fields. Curtis Dickson is still Curtis Dickson. The rest of their supporting group was quiet. This will not be the norm, but painfully obvious this evening. It wasn’t a great start for Chaos, but I would not even think about writing them off.

The Chrome, on the other hand, have officially put the rest of the league on notice much to the degree of John Wick’s line of, “Yeah, I’m thinking I’m back.”

Even though things were tied after the first quarter and the Chrome were dominating time of possession, a scoreless second frame made things feel a little uneasy. Shots were off, the defense was having serious issues keeping the Chaos out of the inside, and they felt like a team with just a little bit more work to do.

The second half Chrome were a different team. Most noticeably was on the offensive end where things really started to click while the defense held the Chaos to a single goal. Chrome was not trying to stretch the field much with two point shots, and their transition game was pressing when they could, but it wasn’t an objective.

Their settled offense is who did the work and they did it well.

Chrome shooters were actually doing an amazing job not with two man games as you would expect, but with their best looks were coming off of skip passes, catching the Chaos defense completely off guard.

The other unexpected trait for the Chrome was the aggressive and unapologetic Matt Gaudet, who was wearing the on field mic for the team. While you could hear his cackling all game long, the moment that stole the show was when he said during an on-field interview segment that Blaze Riorden “sucks.”

The rookie was as blunt as you could be, and he was letting everyone know, Riorden as well, squatting just feet away in the crease. Even after an entire season of players with mics, the commentators were speechless after that one. The PLL lives for this stuff, so you can assume that there will be an encore performance like this from Gaudet.

Sunday’s Game

  • Atlas LC vs Waterdogs LC – 4 p.m. ET, NBC

PickUp Props of the Day