Editor’s Note: The Day 6 insight and recaps for the PLL Championship Series were co-authored by Ryan Conwell and Mark Donahue.
What started out so smoothly became another late night of PLL Championship Series Lacrosse.
Apparently it go so hot in Utah from the Whipsnakes blaze of the Atlas that it melted a fuse somewhere in the vicinity causing all power at Zions Bank Stadium to disappear in the midst of the first quarter in the Archers versus Chrome battle. An hour and some change later, we were back to #PLLAfterDark
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What we know now is the top of this league is pretty separated from the bottom. There’s still time to fix that.
PLL Championship Series Standings
Big Stats Guys
- Zed Williams (Whipsnakes) 3G, 2A
- Mike Chanenchuk (Whipsnakes) 2G, 1 2G, 1A
- Jay Carlson (Whipsnakes) 4G
- Joe Nardella (Whipsnakes) 16/21, 76%
- Cade van Raaphorst (Atlas) 4CT, 3GB
- Grant Ament (Archers) 1G, 5A
- Will Manny (Archers) 3G
- Matt McMahon (Archers) 3CT, 3GB
- Stephen Kelly (Archers) 10/15, 5GB
- Brendan Fowler (Archers) 10/12, 6GB
- Jordan Wolf (Chrome) 2G, 2A
- Reece Eddy (Chrome) 2CT, 2GB
Whipsnakes 15, Atlas 6
The u/o on the game was 22.5. Who in the world is deciding this nonsense? Yet, the Whips almost made it happen.
This game seemed promising. It wasn’t overly thrilling, but the tied, 3-3, knot gave the illusion that we were entering a back-and-forth contest. All of a sudden the Whipsnakes quit appeasing the Atlas and took complete control of the game. A 9-0 run quickly became 12-3 on the scoreboard, capped with a Mike Chanenchuk two pointer. Right or left handed, Chanenchuk is going to let it fly from anywhere around the arc. Somehow this man increases his chances of success the further he gets from the goal. Both of his solo shots were within a step of the line and his bomb came from utter patience.
— Whipsnakes Lacrosse Club (@PLLWhipsnakes) July 31, 2020
Jay Carlson role-played as his best garbage man and should win an Academy Award for his effort. The man was a magnet for the lacrosse ball and it seemed like every odd hop was going right into Carlson’s mesh. No one would have bet on a four goal game from Carlson, but he made a night of being in the right place at the right time. While Carlson stole the show, Zed Williams put together the most quiet hat trick of the season. That’s part of Williams’ charm. He’s done it. He’s been there before. At least he acts like it for a rookie to this league. Coach Stagnitta was giddy to work Williams into his offense and it seems like the entire unit has embraced the newcomer with open arms.
Top to bottom, the Whipsnakes are the most complete team in the PLL. There are no holes in the entire depth chart and everyone is playing their best lacrosse. Anyone can have a huge game on any given night, but the fact that multiple guys are doing it at the same time is what puts them on another tier. The defensive core is as good as ever and with no missing pieces from last year, that’s to be expected. What isn’t expected is Matt Dunn hopping in the crease to make a save on Ryan Brown, bailing out a clearing Kyle Bernlohr. This group will give anything for each other and while they aren’t flashy, they completely blanket their opponent giving them zero hope of getting free in the first place.
It’s almost comical with how bad the Atlas are at this point in the Championship Series losing by XX is absolutely embarrassing and on paper they’re absolutely stacked. They like each other. They have talent. But, apparently, they also have a curse. This was the worse game in Trevor Baptiste history. Absolutely dismantled at the midline by Joe Nardella (16-of-21), Baptiste finished 5-of-19 and his companion Jeremy Thompson was only called on once and lost the opportunity. Long stick Callum Robinson was called up four times near the end of the game and could only come up successful once.
Romar Dennis (2 goals) played well enough to get a mention in this article, but for the sake of not berating a bunch of grown men, we’re don’t talking about the Atlas today.
Archers 13, Chrome 12 – OT
The most memorable thing from this game was definitely the almost two hour delay that happened do to a power outage, causing the entire stadium to lose cameras, scoreboard, lights, everything. It was only 1-0 Archers after about four minutes of play when the delay happened, so it could really be anybody’s game after that. It’s not the first time in sports where teams have had a large delay in the middle of a game, and it’s not uncommon for one team to come out of that delay and just take over a game. And in a way, that’s what happened here, but in an odd way.
Second only to the power outage was the atrocious number of penalties the Chrome were picking up in especially the first quarter. In short quarters, multiple one minute penalties are just killer. On top of that, Connor FarrelL was 1-of-9 in face-offs for the first half and his backup Hunter Forbes was 0-of-3. You don’t need to professional data scientist to know that a lot of penalties and terrible face-off percentages mean you will not be seeing the ball much.
Chrome goalie John Galloway had a good night and was saved 56 percent of the 16 shots sent his way. Meanwhile Adam Ghitelman on the other side of the field saw just five shots. Five. In an entire half. This allowed the Archers to carry a comfortable 8-3 lead into halftime.
Almost too comfortable.
Once the third quarter rolled around, the Chrome offense started getting more opportunities and took over the game. They outscored the Archers 6-1 in the quarter despite not improving significantly in the face-off department. Farrell and Forbes combined for just three wins, out of seven attempts, but their shots were high percentage and their offense was working extremely well. Keeping with their two goalie system, the Archers’ Drew Adams made just a single save in the quarter, and even allowed a two point goal. It was a ferocious comeback by the Chrome.
— Archers Lacrosse Club (@PLLArchers) July 31, 2020
In the final frame, the team were pretty even and the game was much more of a back and forth affair. The Chrome built a razor thin lead and tried to milk that for all they could. After the first quarter, they know that too many opportunities given to the Archers was going to mean more point on the board. Especially for someone by the name of Tom Schreiber, this was true.
Despite only having about 20 seconds to run a game tying play at the end of regulation, Schreiber used a beautiful pick set by Josh Currier to get the LSM Eli Salama off of him during a sweep and take a shot from the middle of the field guarded only by a SSDM. There was not weak side help, either, as all adjacent looks were being locked off. It was a play run to perfection and even if Schreiber didn’t want to shoot, Currier was pretty open from his roll inside and could have had the tying goal as well. This sent the ridiculously late game in the PLL Championship Series to a second overtime, just like the night before.
In a move that was not too shocking, the Archers won the opening face-off, and got first possession. They wound up using every last second on the shot clock, but scored on that opening possession. In what was looking like another Schreiber miracle, they would up getting the ball to Grant Ament on the left wing, who couldn’t get much further than the two point line. With time running out, he forced a pass inside to Ryan Ambler on the far side crease, who caught the ball behind is defender with his stick across his body and upside down. While his cover-man was trying to figure out where the ball went (in his defense, it was not obvious that this was even catchable), Ambler brought his stick back and buried a shot to the top right corner. It was an incredible play.
— Premier Lacrosse League (@PremierLacrosse) July 31, 2020
This game proved is that the Chrome really are for real. Their first two wins are not flukes and this is a dangerous team, especially on offense. Their defense showed some lapses, but they were able to overcome a massive possession imbalance and battle their way back into this game, eventually controlling the lead for all but the last eight seconds of regulation.
And the Archers? They’re good. They’re real good. This attack unit looks like they’ve played together for years already, and their middies are more than just complimentary. Pickpocket Matt McMahon is still McMahon on defense, and the addition of Eli Gobrecht is yielding great returns. Combined with stellar goalie play, this is a group that is humming on offense, defense, and in transition. It’s no surprise to see them in the running for the top seed in the playoffs.
A back-to-back affair for three of the four teams showing up on Thursday. At the bottom of the PLL, the Waterdogs can really use the boost of a long break to come out against a very capable and very dangerous Chrome team.
Chaos versus Whipsnakes will only be interesting if Chaos can get their offensive woes ironed out. The lack of two-man game and distractions away from Sergio Salcido is causing them to sink in the quicksand. If they don’t start working some of that box lacrosse magic in the first quarter, Whips can absolutely run up the scoresheet. If Blaze Riorden stays rock solid between the irons, Chaos certainly has a chance.