The Redwoods are living up to expectations early in 2021. The team went 2-0 in the PLL’s opening weekend and sits alone atop the league’s standings in the season’s infancy.
That was one of many stories to come out of the PLL’s Week 1.
Redwoods Roll Through Week 1
Redwoods (12) vs Cannons (11)
The MLL-heavy Cannons is here, and it proved early on it is and will continue to be a problem. Yes, the team did lose, 12-11, to a very well-balanced Redwoods team, but the writing is on the wall; Cannons is legit.
Ultimately. this game came down to one thing: TD Ierlan won 21 of 27 faceoffs. So, why was this a one-goal game? Because the Redwoods used this faceoff advantage to make up for the 20 turnovers they had.
Moving forward, if the Cannons can find a way to split faceoff with other teams, they will have plenty of success with what appears to be an extremely well-balance defense, an explosive offense, and Nick Marrocco may be the second-best goalie in the league after Week 1.
For the Redwoods, they simply need to take care of the ball and let the offense work, Do that, and the ‘Woods will be at championship weekend.
Chaos (7) vs Whipsnakes (13)
A 10-1 halftime lead reminded us how good the Whipsnakes are and continue to be. The Chaos looked unorganized on defense, and Max Adler went 30% at the stripe, which meant a lot of offensive opportunities for the Whips. If not for Blaze Riorden’s 19 saves (some of them were actually unbelievable), the score could easily have been worse. Offensively, Wes Berg is playing well on his new club, and Dhane Smith is a problem for opposing defenses.
For the Whips, Joe Nardella is on track for another MVP-level season, and the addition of Matt Abbot was felt immediately (two CTs and five GBs as a midfielder).
Atlas (6) vs Archers (18)
The Archers are the real deal this year. The addition of Connor Fields was immediately felt, but not nearly as much as the presence of Ryan McNamara (three goals, three shots). The defense looked stout in front of Adam Ghitelman, who had 17 saves and only four goals against. Archers is on a collision course with Redwoods and Whipsnakes for a shot at the title.
On the other side, Atlas played like, well, Atlas. The team looked very different from last year: much younger, and the defense is a weird mix of 2020 Atlas and 2020 Denver Outlaws that looked a few games away from being on the same page. The offense, when it did see the ball, was playing catch up for pretty much the entire game. That led to Atlas to rushing and trying to force things to happen. As the defensive unit improves, the offense should begin to feel more comfortable and settle into a rhythm.
Cannons (13) vs Waterdogs (7)
As a Waterdogs fan, this one hurt. The team never gave up, but it just didn’t look comfortable on the offensive end. The EMO opportunities consisted of passing the ball around the perimeter with no real purpose until a turnover or a forced outside shot. Steven DeNapoli (an incredible player) should not be the team’s leading scorer – that doesn’t bode well for your offensive identity. Jake Withers kept the game closer than it should’ve been, winning 64% at the stripe despite routinely losing the clamp.
The Waterdogs defense will be fine long term but struggled to match up with the Cannons’ weapons. The Cannons continue to impress and already have one of the leagues top defenses, led by Brodie Merrill and Zach Goodrich. Goodrich makes big-little matchups irrelevant and is like having a fifth pole on the field.
Redwoods (14) vs Chrome (11)
The Chrome, despite all of the noise off of the field and a few injuries on it, showed they can hang in this league. With no Randy Staats or Matt Gaudet, the team was immediately short-handed on offense, something that you could feel early on. The new additions of Ryan Terefenko, Justin Anderson, and Colin Heacock lead me to believe that this offense will be a force in the near future.
The impact of TD Ierlan was the biggest factor in this game. Redwoods was able to go on scoring runs spurred with its ridiculous amount of offensive talent because of Ierlan’s prowess at the stripe. A seven-goal second quarter gave the ‘Woods a lead they would never give up.
5 Best Performances
*TD Ierlan, Redwoods faceoff: 36-of-55 for 65% with 24 ground balls.
Adam Ghitelman, Archers goalie: 17 saves with four GA (81% save percentage).
Joseph Nardella, Whipsnakes faceoff: 16-of-22 for 73% with six ground balls.
*Cannons Defense: 24 caused turnovers with 74 groundballs and 19 goals against.
*Jules Heningburg, Redwoods midfield: five goals on 10 shots, two assists, and one turnover.
* = indicates two-game total