Archers best Chrome behind Manny’s six points, will face Atlas for first pick in 2020 draft
The Archers take down the Chrome to move on to the 2020 Draft Top Pick game.
In the second game of the doubleheader on Saturday, Chrome and Archers squared off for the right to take on Atlas and play for the first overall pick in the 2020 draft. For Chrome, it was a chance to get a player that can reverse their fortunes after struggling in the first PLL season. For Archers, it was a chance to get a step closer to that one piece that’s missing, a truly dominant faceoff man.
The Archers came into the day having lost MVP candidate Tom Schreiber for the remainder of the season to a shoulder injury and looking to run an offense without its leader at the midfield. The Chrome came in having lost John Moderski and Mike Manley for the rest of the year to injury on the defense, and having to handle the Archers’ potent attack.
It was Archers who got on the board first, as Will Manny, per usual, was active off-ball and came off a pick to finish and beat Chrome goalie Alex Ready, who was making his first start this season. Stephen Kelly would score off the following faceoff, as Archers raced to a 2-0 lead. Then Chrome would answer with goals from Jordan Wolf and Justin Guterding. The Guterding/Wolf connection was strong in the first quarter, as Guterding assisted two of Wolf’s goals.
Teams traded goals on their way to a 6-6 knot at half time. The Archers looked to Ryan Ambler and Danny Eipp for strong midfield dodges without Schreiber, and they were able to initiate from the wings at times to create some good looks.
Will Manny broke the deadlock two minutes into quarter 3 with a nice low shot to beat Brett Queener (who came in earlier to replace Ready) from a sharp angle, his third goal of the day. Turnovers and empty possessions kept the ball in the Archers half of the field, and Archers were eventually able to capitalize on the extra opportunities in the form of another Will Manny goal on an iso dodge from X. Chrome were able to get an answer off a faceoff, as Scott Ratliff committed a turnover in his own defensive end, and Guterding was able to convert it into a goal to cut the lead to 8-7 Archers.
Chrome goalie Brett Queener was hit in the helmet with a shot on an Archers man up not long after, and left the game, being replaced by initial starter Alex Ready. The Archers were able to beat Ready on the powerplay on a shot from Ryan Ambler to push their lead back to two goals. The Chrome offense continued to try and get things going but had a hard time cracking the Archers’ defense. A transition opportunity late in the quarter gave Chrome a chance to close the gap, but Drew Adams came up with a doorstep save to preserve the two-goal lead.
The Chrome, however, did get even early in the 4th quarter as Guterding hit a two-bomb to tie the game at 9. Archers answered a few minutes later, as Marcus Holman finally got on the board with his first of the night to put Archers up 10-9. Archers would win the ensuing faceoff, and Danny Eipp would find Davey Emala off a pick and slip play from up top to quickly put the Archers back up by two.
The teams would trade empty possessions before Jordan Wolf would score on an isolation dodge with 4 minutes left to bring Chrome back within one. Chrome got another great look a minute later on a dodge and feed inside by Wolf, but Drew Adams came up with another big save low to preserve the Archers’ lead. Off the clear, Archers would call timeout to maintain possession with just 2:29 remaining. With just over a minute left, Archers would go up by 2 on a goal from Scott Ratliff, which was enough to preserve the victory as Archers ran out the rest of the clock on the next possession.
Many expect Archers to try and draft Yale’s faceoff specialist and 2019 Tewaaraton finalist TD Ierlan, yet the win came off the heels of a dominant faceoff performance by current faceoff specialist Stephen Kelly, who went 15 for 18 at the X, scooped 11 groundballs and added a goal and an assist.
Archers move on to take on Atlas for the first overall pick in the draft, in what is a very deep 2020 class, while the Chrome see their season come to an end. While they finish with the league’s worst record, after six weeks, they were actually the team with the league’s best goal differential. With their talent, they are not far off from a contender.