I woke up this morning and summer was gone. Luckily for players, fans, and those of us covering the PLL, the season has four more weekends of action. Each game offers a glimpse of excellence, a hint of innovation, and competitive grit.
Archers clinched a quarterfinal bye with their win over the Whipsnakes on Friday night in Tacoma.
Connor Fields scored 4 goals including three in the 2nd quarter in a span of 5:18. He also added an assist on a 2-point goal by Mac O’Keefe late in the 3rd to take a commanding 14-4 lead with 1:17 to go in the 3rd. This game was never close.
In the first half: Fields, O’Keefe and Tre LeClaire, starting on attack for an injured Matt Moore, shot a combined 6/15. Meanwhile Whips Will Manny, Zed Williams and Matt Rambo were a combined 0/8- and Rambo didn’t even take a shot. The Halftime score was 10-2 Archers. Game over.
Archers goalie Brent Dobson had 5 saves and 2 goals allowed in the first half. He was Replaced by Nick Washuta with 5:47 left in the game when it was 16-7 Archers.
Whipsnakes were led by Mike Chanunchuk who had 3 goals. Rambo and Dordevic had 2 each. Michael Ehrhardt added a 2-point laser and a 1 point goal.
All-time leaders in points by MLL and PLL poles:
1. Brodie Merrill (146)
2. Scott Ratliff (105)
3. Michael Ehrhardt (91)
4. CJ Costabile (74)
5. Kyle Sweeney (72)
In game two, the Cannons dropped three two-pointers within a six minute span on Friday night in defeating the Atlas 14-13. They went from down 7-6 to up 12-8 during the third quarter run that took 5:20. Cade Van Raaphorst hit a two bomb from center field, his third of the season since being picked up from the Atlas scrap heap.
Cannon MVP candidate Marcus Holman was held scoreless in the first half. Last week he was 0/1 in the first half. And this week was 0/5. Wasn’t his best night, wound up with 1/9 shooting. Asher Nolting fished out 3 assists. Lefty Adam Charlambides, in for Matt Kavanagh, scored the first 2 goals for the Cannons and ended up with 3 goals on 8 shots. Ryan Drenner was the hero for a franchise that continues to flip the script from 2022 under coach Brian Holman.
Atlas was led by Chris Gray who wound up with 5 goals on 11 shots. Nobody else in the team had more than 5 shots. Acquired midfielder Myles Jones added 1 goal and 1 assist. Goalie Jack Concannon made 13 saves (54.2%) but was torched from two point range.
It was the fourth one-goal loss for the Atlas. They are much stronger than their (2-7) record shows. Trevor Baptiste went 27-28 facing off with 27 ground balls. The Cannons had the ball for :33 seconds more than the Atlas, thanks to 27 turnovers by the Atlas.
The doomsday writing has been tacked to the wall for FOGO’s. Face the facts. Between sixes and the new PLL rules, FOGO’s are being marginalized at the professional and international levels. Those who purely specialize in the FOGO craft, may soon find themselves a no go.
Saturday featured wins by the Redwoods and Waterdogs. The Redwoods defeated the last place Chrome, 11-10 in overtime. 11-10 has always been my favorite score.
Wes Berg hit a right handed layup from three yards out from an X feed from Rob Pannell for the game winner :43 seconds into OT. It was Pannell’s first point of the game (0-5 shooting). Nakaie Montgomery scored his first goal of the season :17 seconds into the game (prior 0-25 shooting this year, and was 2-3 shooting for the game – and aside from that stat, the Duke graduate has played very well this summer). Montgomery added a 2-pointer :13 seconds into the 2nd quarter to give Redwoods a 6-3 lead. The Woods were a dreadful 1-40 from 2-point range coming into the game. They went 2-7 for the game. Recently acquired Romar Dennis scored a 2-pointer and added a goal late in the 3rd quarter.
The Chrome have had trouble finding the net. Tewaaraton winner Logan Wisnauskas (who shot around 40% as a senior in 2022 at Maryland) was 0-19 in his previous 4 games but went 4-10 and led the upset bid. Jackson Morrill added 3 assists. TD Ierlan topped Colin Farrell all game winning 13-18 at the X. Goalie Sean Sconone finished with 12 saves and 9 GAA for 57.1% With the loss, the Chrome are eliminated from playoff contention.
The Waterdogs scored four two-pointers in a 13-8 win over the Chaos. Blaze Riorden has given up the most two point goals in the PLL this season, a staggering 11. Shoot from distance on Big Blaze.
Waterdogs burst to a 5-0 lead 4:08 into the game thanks to 2-pointers from Jack Hannah and Ryan Conrad. Chaos called a timeout and heard a tongue lashing filled with expletives from Coach Andy Towers. The franchise has seemingly devalued the regular season. Chaos woke up and scored 3 of the next 4.
Waterdogs were led by Hannah and Conrad- both had 4 points, which is notable after a few games of subpar midfield contribution. The Waterdogs scored five 1-point goals and four 2 point goals. Veteran goalie and new father Dillon Ward ended with 15 saves and 7 GAA for a 68.2% save %. The surprise was that Kieran McArdle shot 0-4 and Michael Sowers didn’t take a shot the entire game- finishing with a team high 40 touches and 38 passes.
Chaos’ offense was lackluster, shooting 7-41 in the game. They put up six 1-goal scores and a 2 pointer from CJ Costabile. Blaze ended with 17 saves for 65.4%. Ryan Smith shot 0-6. Ian MacKay was 0-4. Will Perry was 0-5. Dhane Smith was 0-6 with 2 assists. The bright spot was right rookie from Delaware Tye Kurtz, who shot 2-3 and was the only multi-goal scorer. Chaos finished -10 in turnovers.
Salt Lake lineup
Friday August 25
Archers vs Waterdogs
Atlas vs Redwoods (ESPN2)
Saturday August 26
Cannons vs Whipsnakes
Chaos vs Chrome
Chris Cotter, Paul Carcaterra and Caley Chelios have the live call on espn + and ESPN2 from Zions Bank Stadium.
Athletes Unlimited Pro Women’s Lacrosse
AU split $800,000 of bonus money between 57 players. That’s really impressive. Goalie Taylor Moreno took home the points title. Playmaker Sam Apuzzo was dominant. The scoring system must be tweaked for 2024. -10 for a turnover is too severe a penalty, when an assist gets you just 4 points. The risk/reward doesn’t add up.
The following are revealing metrics from the 2023 Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse season, which ended two weeks ago in Sparks, MD. Let’s hope the AU management has the vision to move some of the events to different cities – a four week tour that includes Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore would garner more hype. Take the game to the fans.
- Average viewership of live games on ESPN and ESPN2 increased by 25% from 2022
- Merchandise sales increased by 63% from 2022
- Attendance for games at USA Headquarters increased by 41%
- Social media engagement increased by 22% from the previous season. (This is where AU must pick up the pace.)
College football starts for me this week on Saturday night (ABC). I love college football and the opportunity to travel our country, meet interesting players and coaches while covering compelling games with a broadcast team that’s like family. The PLL wraps up the regular season in Salt Lake City this weekend. The quarters will be played at Gillette Stadium on Labor Day. The semis will be at Hofstra on September 10. Playoff games will be must-see TV.
College players are moving back to campus. The NFL and college football are ramping up. Summer is out of reach. If you’re a rising senior in high school and committed to play college lacrosse, I strongly recommend playing three sports your senior year of high school. Go out for football, soccer, basketball, wrestling or track. Those athletic experiences will prepare you for a freshman season in college. Being out of your comfort zone leads to growth. Exposing yourself to a demanding schedule, new coaching voices and cross training is most beneficial once you sign on the dotted line.
I’ll see you at the final sequel of summer on ABC, the PLL Championship game on September 23 outside of Philadelphia under the bridge.