The PLL action stormed into Baltimore on Friday and Saturday night at Homewood Field. Enthusiastic fans cheered during a pair of double-headers in steamy Baltimore. Whenever the PLL is in Baltimore you know you are in for a treat.
Whipsnakes (12) – Redwoods (11)
The Whipsnakes defeated the Redwoods 12-11 on ESPN2 to solidify their ownership of the PLL’s most heated and meaningful rivalry. The Woods had taken an 8-6 lead in the third quarter after back-to-back goals by Ryder Garnsey and TD Ierlan, only to see the Whips rattle off four straight. Tied at 11-11, Matt Rambo scored the game winner. Zed Williams was inserted into the starting lineup on attack opposite Rambo. Goalie Kyle Bernlohr made two critical body stops late in the game to keep the Woods at bay. Michael Ehrhardt bombed from outside the arc and won his matchup. Keegan Khan made his PLL debut. in Baltimore.
Connor Kirst played SSDM in place of injured Jake Bernhardt. The Whips third SSDM struggled in coverage and I was surprised they left him on an island so often. Charlie Bertrand was the hero for the Redwoods with a hat trick including two dodging goals from the lefty wing. The Notre Dame defense of Arden Cohen, Garrett Apple, and Eddy Glazener were stout. SSDM Jack Near hurt his shoulder in the first half and his injury status bears watching in July. LSM John Sexton played for the first time in 2022 after shrugging off a hamstring ailment. Righty midfielder Sergio Perkovic stepped up with two key goals and overall I felt the Woods take a step forward even in defeat.
Waterdogs (18) – Chaos (9)
The PLL in Baltimore Friday Night Lights game between the winless Waterdogs and Chaos morphed into a Dogs demolition. The Chaos two-man game had no bite. They couldn’t gain leverage with picks and didn’t have enough speed to create looks unassisted. This revolving roster should be more settled going forward and can only improve on what’s been a putrid start to the season coming off the 2021 title run. This game does provide hope for Waterdog fans as the chemistry between attack men Ryan Brown, Kieran McArdle, and Michael Sowers is percolating. That unit plus midfielder Connor Kelly blowtorched the Chaos defense and made goalie Blaze Reorder look human.
Kelly is playing at an elite level, able to change directions and pass off the dodge or hit a shot from distance with his feet set. Rookie FOGO Zac Tucci is still a work in progress, adapting to the PLL switch in alignment and having wing players breathing down his neck faster from the whistle. LSM Ryland Rees was outstanding and the close defense of Liam Byrnes, Eli Gobrecht, and Ben Randall dealt with the Chaos east-west offensive scheme with relative ease. Rookie shorty Jake Higgins has caught on and looks like a good one. After a Week 1 beat down at the hands of the Cannons, some NLL personnel issues and injuries, it feels as if the Waterdogs will slowly climb their way back towards the middle of the pack. The Chaos are reeling and need to find answers next week in Minneapolis.
Chrome (12) – Cannons (11)
The Chrome trailed the Cannons 11-6 before scoring the final six goals of the contest in the last 6:24 minutes of the game along with overtime to claim a miraculous victory on Saturday. They played poorly for the first 42 minutes yet found a way to remain unbeaten at 4-0. The Cannons let this one slip away. FOGO Connor Farrell provided the Chrome the necessary possessions for the comeback. Goalie Sean Sconnone never gave up soft goals. The offense was dreadful in the second and third quarters only managing one goal in 26:00 minutes of action. Jordan Macintosh was a bright spot early. Justin Anderson, Ryan Terefenko, and Mike Messenger were the stars of the late push. SSDM Messenger created the turnover in overtime and found the back of the net for the game winner. He is really stout on ball, super strong, and can handle well in transition. He’s a British Columbia native who scored goals at Limestone and should get strong consideration for Team Canada.
Terefenko was all over the field, reminiscent of his days at Ohio state and nailed the tying goal with 8.3 seconds to go after a wicked face dodge in transition. Let’s see how the Cannons react to this horrible loss. Their offensive makeover allowed them to build a 9-4 lead after three quarters. Rookie Asher Nolting should never have been playing midfield, not sure what drove that horrendous decision. Paired with Lyle Thompson, that duo can make magic for the rest of the summer. Ryan Drenner and Ryan Tierney nailed their open looks and Adam Charalambides powered home his first PLL goal. The Cannons dressed two FOGOs and that personnel decision proved costly as they hit a wall in the final stanza. Goalie Nick Marocco did all he could to withstand the late barrage and deserved better after a stellar first three quarters.
Atlas (10) – Archers (9)
The Atlas and the Archers wrapped up the PLL weekend with a hard fought and highly contested one-goal 10-9 Atlas win in Baltimore. This game had five ties and was always within a two-goal spread. Trevor Baptiste was the MVP of the night and deserves love for the PLL Player of the Week. He was awesome. The Atlas attack provided the scoring punch as Jeff Teat and Eric Law had productive evenings. Atlas midfield scoring was light, although John Crawley scored once and Dox Aitken dodged from X for the game winner, Unusual to see Aitken inverting and his success perhaps opens the door for more of that scheme. LSM Craig Chick was a terror in the middle of the field. The key to this win was holding Tom Schreiber below his typical output. The close defense silenced Archer sniper Will Manny, and with Grant Ament out of the lineup, that’s the formal for a win. The Archers didn’t win enough faceoffs and when they did, shot selection and turnovers plagued their efficiency.
In the second quarter they had four shots and seven turnovers. You just can’t win with those stats. Matt Moore, the rookie from Virginia, continues to win his matches and scored dodging goals off the dribble. Not sure why opponents aren’t sending a quicker double team for a rookie that leads the entire PLL in unassisted goals. This win was important in terms of the standings. The Archers await the return of Ament but must clean up their close defense a tad and substitute smarter as the Atlas scored at least twice in transition. Justin Ignacio took draws for the Archers and a matchup with Baptiste is never going to be kind to a rookie.
One thing I’ve learned quickly this summer is that all of the PLL rosters have the necessary talent to win any one game especially after this past weekend in Baltimore. Look at the Vegas spreads, you rarely see a margin offered that’s more than 2 goals. A team’s performance can be enhanced or hurt by player availability – injuries can tilt the scales. I’m also sensing a ying-yang pattern from some teams, they play great one week and think they are golden, only to take a step in the wrong direction the following game.
The Chrome are fortunate to be 4-0. The Whips have shown uncommon consistency and don’t beat themselves. The Cannons seem snake bit and the Chaos haven’t come close to delivering an effort similar to what we saw at the end of 2021. I think its safe to hold off predictions until after the All-Star break, because historically the games in late July and August have a much stronger bearing on what we may witness in September.
I hope you’re watching these games or buying tickets because the quality of play on the field has been incredible. I couldn’t be more excited and energized to watch this summer unfold. Play continues this weekend from Minneapolis at TCO Stadium and can be seen on Friday and Saturday night on ESPN+ with Drew Carter and Paul Carcaterra on the call with Chantel McCabe working downstairs. All PLL games can be seen on ESPN+ and replays are available on demand.