With the PLL games being in Charlotte this past weekend, I flew down on Thursday night with my 13-year-old daughter. For the professional traveler, there is no greater torture than flying with a neophyte. I fly a lot for work, not quite every week, and have become efficient and streamlined while navigating the roads and airports of America. It takes patience and yoga-like exhales to slow down to the travel speed of a 13-year-old girl.
After a great Week 1, the Friday and Saturday two-day PLL event in Charlotte was greeted with energetic crowds, seasonable weather, and one-goal drama.
Archers (12) – Chrome (7)
Chrome’s Cross Ferrara, the rookie from Salisbury, had 41 touches, eight shots, and four points in Week 1, including the game-winner. Ferrara operates on an extra gear and was drafted by coach Tim Soudan based on watching Cross play for the Seagulls with Soudan’s son. He’s the ultimate Division 3 underdog story. Week 2 was less fruitful for the rookie as the Chrome offense opened the game, shooting 1 for 17.
The Archers’ tempo was eye-opening in a Week 1 win over Cannons, generating 54 shots off 47 groundballs. You’ve got to love their midfield scoring and depth of contribution. This relentless offensive approach continued, even with Grant Ament out nursing a left hamstring injury. Mac O’Keefe found the net three times. Midfielder Tom Schreiber put on a clinic with five points. What’s most notable was the Archer defense. Chrome only scored seven times, and five of them came off the stick of Jackson Morrill. It was a dreadful offensive showing for the silver and black. Archers’ goalie Brett Dobson had a field day making 18 saves. Coach Chris Bates, once a Charlotte Cobra of the MILL, is pushing all the right buttons with his offense and new FOGO Mike Sisselberger.
Redwoods (10) – Waterdogs (9)
Redwoods are (2-0) after a comeback victory over the Waterdogs. Down 6-0 and reeling, attackman Rob Pannell, rookie Cole Kirst, and defender Garrett Epple were the difference makers for Coach Nat St. Laurent. The 10-9 win showed me a certain toughness and a willingness for players to thrive in their designated roles. It just feels different for the Redwoods’ franchise. They’re in a better place in 2023.
Pannell delivered a gem of a game. He made no mistakes, was decisive, clean, and proved to be clutch, finishing with four points. Jack Kelly made 19 saves.
Waterdogs had a fortunate Week 1 win over Chaos, considering that Michael Sowers, Kieran McArdle, Jake Carraway, and Jack Hannah shot a combined 2 for 24, with the team winning just 29% of the faceoffs. In Week 2, the Waterdogs fell to (1-1) after failing to parlay their 6-0 lead. Michael Sowers was dancing to the net with ease before the Redwoods put Epple on him, which changed the tenure of this game.
The script flipped from a 6-0 Waterdogs’ lead to a 6-6 tie in a 15:32 stint that saw the purple and white shoot 0 for 11. That stat would balloon to 1 for 20 over 27:32. You can’t have extended droughts and win in the PLL, and that was shown in Charlotte.
Atlas (12) – Whipsnakes (11)
ABC games hit a little different. I love our team; we are rotating and flexing different combinations during the twelve-week summer to provide optimal coverage and allow for some work/life balance. I’ll work five PLL weekends during the regular season. I was paired with Anish Shroff, Ryan Boyle, and Katie George this week. I learn a lot during PLL weekends by listening to coaches and players while asking questions. The PLL is the science lab. It has experts in all facets of the game who converge weekly to compete.
After six losses, Chris Gray’s game-winner gave the Atlas their first franchise win over the Whipsnakes. Jeff Teat, Brendan Curry, Romar Dennis, and Brian Costabile were the chief producers. The game was tied at 3, 6, 9, and 11.
Meanwhile, the Whips begin the summer of 2023 at 0-2. Newcomer Tucker Dordevic, who hit on 2 of 13 shots in Week 1, raised his level with four first-half points showcasing a display of accurate shooting and dodging that’ll put him in the running for Rookie of the Year. A more aggressive Matt Rambo (4 goals) had success bulldozing his way to pay dirt. Zed Williams (2 goals) was a handful for the Atlas until they switched Big Red No.1 pick Gavin Adler onto him and slid with more conviction.
Chaos (14) – Cannons (13)
In PLL Charlotte’s finale, the Cannons nearly pulled off a miraculous comeback, down 13-9, before falling in overtime to the Chaos, 14-13. Josh Byrne scored the game-clincher. Chase Fraser and Chris Cloutier were back in the fold. This was a seesaw game that featured runs of 5-1, 6-1, 6-1, and 4-0. The Chaos scored one goal in 20 minutes during the middle of the game.
The Cannons (0-2) received strong efforts from Asher Nolting, Marcus Holman, Chris Aslanian, and rookie Matt Campbell. A slow start and a third-quarter hiccup proved costly.
The PLL visits Columbus this weekend. Six of the first eight games of the 2023 season have been decided by one goal. Creative playmaking, heavy hitting, processing speed, and artistry have no equal.
My brother Wes was killed by a drunk driver at 6:20 am on a Wednesday morning while cycling in Charlotte, NC, in May of 2022. My family gathered in Charlotte on Saturday and participated in a Wes’s Challenge 5K Run at McAlpine Park. Wes was an avid marathoner, completing over 104 of them with a PR of around 2:28:00 at his peak. He competed in triathlons, biathlons, bike races, and ultra races (50 miles, 100 miles, 24-hour races). He welcomed all challenges and was a well-known figure in those circles in Maui, Charlottesville, the Hudson Valley, and Charlotte, where he lived and trained.
Saturdays 5K featured stops for push-ups, dips, and squats and contained a portion near the finish line where runners had to run backward for a half mile. I finished third overall. My thirteen-year-old daughter, who was on her way to a fine finish, fell while backpedaling and twisted her ankle.
She describes the spill. “I was running backward for Uncle Wes, and the course was horribly planned. So we were running on a bridge, and I happened to not see where I was going and ran down a ramp. The back of my shoe got caught on the pavement that was at the top of the ramp and sent me shooting back. I just so happened to turn to see what was happening, and my foot was still stuck on the top of the ramp, so I twisted, and then I fell onto my back with my back twisted and almost hit my head on a metal pole which I could’ve bled to death. It’s all the organizer’s fault because the course was changed at the last minute, and I paid for it.”
We celebrated after the race and posed for a family photo. Wes has three daughters and four grandkids.
After icing her ankle for most of Saturday, I’m glad to report that my daughter is fully mobile, pain-free, and eager to try more road races. Never a dull moment.
I was then able to rehydrate for the PLL doubleheader and get to uptown Charlotte for the games.