The PLL Semifinals take place at Hofstra on Sunday September 10. ESPN’s Chris Cotter, Ryan Boyle, Paul Carcaterra and Dana Boyle will be on Long Island with the television coverage.
PLL Semifinal Sunday
Archers (-1.5) vs Redwoods
3:00pm, ABC & ESPN+
Archers (8-2) scored 12.8 goals per game during the ten-week regular season, averaging a league high 47.4 shots per game. They were idle from game play during Labor Day weekend, but practiced and scouted the quarters from Gillette to keep their rhythm. They are +200 to win the title.
“I love where coach Chris Bates’ head is at,” says ESPN’s Chris Cotter. “He seems at ease in pushing all the right buttons at the moment.”
Archers own the top-rated scoring defense. Goalie Brent Dobson sits at #3 in save percentage (58%). FOGO Mike Sisselberger ranks #2 in control at 68%. Offensively Connor Fields has 28 goals on a league high 94 shots with the ball being in his pocket the most. He will zig-zag from the left wing, yoyoing back and forth, either diving underneath or curling topside.
Mac OKeefe has 26 goals and six coming on the power play. When his feet are set, turn and rake. Midfielder Tom Schreiber, the league MVP, has 17 assists. His ability to skip the ball off the dodge is unparalleled. The big three set the pace – but let’s be clear – shutting down Schreiber is the key to this game.
They convert clean saves into transition. SSDM Connor Maher has five goals and Jared Conners has added five points. Defender Graeme Hossack (Lindenwood) deserves first team all-pro recognition.
Redwoods (7-4) are +425 to win the championship, the longest shot on the board after a 15-9 quarterfinal win over the Chaos that was fueled by seven Wes Berg goals and 20 saves from Jack Kelly. A 3-2 tight game suddenly became 12-2 in the second quarter. Berg couldn’t miss and the Chaos fed their opponent with sloppy turnovers and horrible defensive decisions.
Chaos found no offensive opportunities in transition and ended the game in a 3-24 shooting slump. Roster
It was a weekend that potentially saw the ending of some Hall of Fame level careers. Have we seen the last of Michael Ehrhardt? Tucker Durkin? Myles Jones? Mark Glicini? Jake Bernhardt? Jesse Bernhardt? Mike Manley? CJ Costabile? If we have in fact said goodbye to them as players, I offer a mighty salute.
Woods are surging as hot as the temps in Foxboro. They’ve won four in a row- including two games in overtime. They’ve defeated Cannons, Chrome, Atlas & Chaos during the run. The Defense has gotten better lately allowing 15, 10, 7 and 9 points in consecutive weeks. Romar Dennis has put some juice into this team (4 pts in 3 games). Jules Heningburg has played better lately (4 goals last 4 games). Garrett Epple and Arden Cohen combined for 4 CT’s and 5 GB’s this past Monday. Eddy Glazener, always mic’d up, is a former bagpiper and the conductor of the defense.
If the Redwoods can bottle the second quarter from the quarterfinal win last Monday, lookout. “Redwoods played maybe the most impressive half of lacrosse in Boston for any team this season,” says Chris Cotter of ESPN.
“Ryder Garnsey and RP3 did all the little things while helping everyone else step up,” said Cotter. “The shift was more minutes for Cole Kirst and Brian Tevlin in the midfield. Jules was assertive. Jack Kelly and Wes Berg laid the groundwork for playoff MVP runs.”
Cannons vs Waterdogs (-1.5)
Waterdogs (8-3) outpassed the Whipsnakes 235-181 in a 15-12 quarterfinal victory. The Whips had only two assists, compared to nine for the Dogs. Kieran McCardle and Michael Sowers combined for 15 points. Sowers shot 71% as the Whips made just 32% of the saves. Sowers ran past defenders and launched himself into the air, displaying a fearless hunger to win. Meanwhile goalie Dillon Ward made 17 saves for the defending champs. Tied at 10-10 in the third quarter, the purple haze put a spell on the Whips, with four straight goals to blow the game open.
“Coach Copelan was happy that his midfield picked up the scoring during the last month of the season,” explains Cotter. “He had to be ecstatic that Sowers and McCardle exploded Monday in Boston. Those two plus Ward in net evoked images of last September.”
Whips miss the semifinals for the first time in league history and Coach Jim Stagnitta has major roster and personnel decisions looming. Upgrading the midfield and SSDM spots would appear to be at the top of the list. Whips need to get faster on defense and more consistent in the goal.
Expect Notre Dame goalie Liam Entenmann to be selected in the first round, a professional rarity. It feels like Brennan O’Neil (Duke) and Connor Shellenberger (Virginia) have to be picked 1/2.
Cannons (8-3) saw their 5-4 lead expand to 10-5 in a front running 20-11 evisceration of Atlas (2-9). Cannons play up-tempo jazz, their reactions to loose balls seemingly a step faster than the Atlas.
Asher Nolting, with a sizable matchup advantage, put up a career-high three goals and four assists, bullying his way into paydirt.
Cornell and Maryland alum Jonathan Donville scored four times on five shots, lefty Matt Kavanagh was healthy and back in the lineup, and righty Marcus Holman finished with a goal and two assists. Cannons were (1-9) in 2022 and Coach-of-the-Year Brian Holman and his assistants Jim Mitchell and Mikey Thompson are looking to go from worst to first.
“Waterdogs and Cannons are a matchup of the two top scoring efficiency offenses that made their way to the semifinals while disregarding the face off position,” says ESPN’s Paul Carcaterra.
Both teams have successfully utilized a strategy to ‘concede the draw’ and churn for turnovers while playing strong :32 second shot clock defense. They’ve said no to the FOGO, surprisingly the winning strategy in the summer of 2023.
“Zach Currier could be a difference maker on a ground balls,” says Carcaterra. “The Cannons who lead the league in goals, assists, shooting % – are one of the most selfless pro teams I have ever seen.”
Great offense usually contains people movement and ball movement. This team has both.
“Cannons are as fun, and as difficult a team to call from a play-by-play perspective,” says Cotter. “All six offensive players are constantly on the move. The ball whips from cross to cross. You just never know where and from whom the goal scoring move will come.”
Position-less players like Ryan Drenner and Matt Campbell and Jon Donville are tricky to track.
“Rookie LSM Ethan Rall is a playmaker. Coach Brian Holman has injected the right amount of freedom, guidance, and joy into his players,” says Cotter.
Meanwhile the Atlas, a squad that drafted two defenders (Gavin Adler and Brett Makar) in the first round, had nobody to cover the big man Asher Nolting. Both Adler and Makar are excellent players and great teammates, but neither can be considered #1 cover men in the PLL. Midfield offense was sold separately late in the season for the Atlas and the close defense needs a makeover. Atlas will likely look at a goalie as well.
If you’re a youth or high school player within a 90 minute radius of Hofstra, I strongly urge attending these semifinal games and getting eyes, in person, on the worlds best players.
Lynbrook, Chaminade, Garden City, Ward Melville, Team 91, Massapequa, Syosset, Oceanside, West Islip, Rocky Point, Babylon, Port Washington, St Anthony’s, Manhasset, Farmingdale, Shoreham…etc, I’m calling you out. It’s time to support the PLL and show up if the 516 and metro area wants to keep the “Strong Island” moniker. The Giants play on Sunday night and the Jets play on Monday night, so there are no conflicts with the NFL.
After a week of hype and promotion, the PLL Cash App Championship game will be played on Sunday September 24 in Philadelphia PA at Subaru Park live on ABC at 3pm. Chris Cotter, Ryan Boyle, Paul Carcaterra, Katie George and I will be on-site under the bridge covering the title game, halftime and post game trophy presentation for the live TV audience.