Law and Baptiste return to Denver as Atlas bulldozes Redwoods
Atlas pulls off a much-needed victory against the Redwoods in a shootout in Denver.
Welcome to Denver, Colorado. Nicknamed the “Maryland/Long Island of the West,” Denver is quickly becoming the newest hotbed for lacrosse, and it is something magical.
Hot off all-star weekend, we enter a weekend of high stakes as the playoff push begins to heat up. Our first game of the weekend was the Rollercoaster Redwoods against the Eager Atlas.
The Woods (4-2) rolled into the weekend on a three-game win streak, finding themselves tied for second with the Chowse boys (though they hold a +6 goal differential to the Chaos’ -1). The Atlai (2-4) enter the weekend still struggling to figure it out (with a -12 goal differential), despite hurricane Baptiste dominating everything in his path at the faceoff X.
This was both a “student becomes the master” and homecoming game for Trevor Baptiste, as Greg Gurenlian was a huge question mark coming into the game for the Redwoods. Gurenlian is still battling that ol’ trick hamstring of his. It seemed that the Woods were going to let him heal up this week, as they sent attackman Joey Sankey to the Archers in exchange for the unutilized FOGO Jerry Ragonese. But the Woods elected to dress Beast the Broken instead of Ragonese and it may have ended up costing them (spoiler alert: it did).
The Atlas never trailed in this matchup (almost blew it), and you could tell they were very hungry for a win. The Redwoods, despite attempting an admirable comeback, decrescendoed in this one, which is a bit puzzling considering how well their defense, led by league leader in caused turnovers Garrett Epple (18 CTO), has been playing.
The Atlai immediately tallied 5 goals like somebody was holding their mothers hostage and would end up totaling seven goals before the Woods would even sniff a good offensive chance.
Conner Buczek opened up the scoring with his first of five goals on the day, burying one skinny far pipe on the newly crowned goalie champion Tim “Timboslice” Troutner at the 10:30 minute mark. Then Cade van Raaphorst II (the II stands for “two bombs”) pulled up from the Denver Airport and put a two-ball past Troutner.
Ryan Brown would also get in on the action with a far-pipe rip, as would hometown hero and sheriff of Denver Eric Law, who finished with four goals and an assist. Buczek would add a 2-pointer for a quick hatty (technically) before the 2nd quarter even started.
The Redwoods went man-up at the five-minute mark and Joe Walters found Wes Berg to finally stop the bleeding. Soon after, attackman Ryder Garnsey added another for the Woods, but the Atlas quickly answer with a transition goal by attackman Kieran McArdle, bringing the Atlas lead to 9-2 at the end of the first quarter.
Jules (more like Juuls, cause you don’t want that smoke) Heningburg opened up the scoring in the 2nd Quarter netting his first of the day. He would go on to finish with six goals and an assist. Brent Adams also added another quick goal from just inside the 2-point line to inch the Redwoods closer. Yet, the Atlas quickly added three more goals and player/co-founder Paul Rabil ripped a 2-pointer on the power play to put the Atlas up 14-4 with just over six minutes left in the half.
To close out the half, Heningburg did his best Lyle Thompson impression by adding a backhanded diving goal and Kyle Harrison added one for the Redwoods to close out the half trailing 14-6.
Fellow Long Islander Matt Kavanagh got things going in the 3rd for the Woods with a lefty scorcher from the top of the key. Heningburg then danced on Atlas defenseman Austin Pifani, and stuck one past keeper and all-star game MVP Jack Concannon for a hatty to help the Redwoods mount a comeback.
The Redwoods defense seemed to begin to click and held the Atlas to no goals in the 3rd quarter, allowing Long, Tan and Handsome Heningburg to net the next two goals for the Redwoods to close the lead to just four at 14-10.
But Heningburg’s counterpart for the day in Connor Buczek stopped the bleeding for the Atlas by blasting a “top chedda” goal past Troutner and McArdle contorted himself to catch a messy-yet-pretty feed from Rabil with just over six minutes left to play in the 3rd quarter. Then “Law & Order: GLE” caught a feed from McArdle on the doorstep to finesses one in to put the Atlas up 17-10 moments later.
The Redwoods would inch back when Sergio Perkovic put the team on his back and dodged through three members of the Atlas defense, but just as he planned, the ball popped out to Wes Berg who cleaned up the trash for his first of the game. The Atlas scored their final mark of the day with three minutes left in the 3rd quarter, but Heningburg added another right after to make it 18-12 headed into the 4th quarter.
It didn’t take long before Jules added another and then Ryder Garnsey added two more quick goals for the Woods on a little scoop n’ score off a faceoff and short stepdown from the wing. Yet, the Atlai’s 14 goals in the first half were too much for the Woods to overcome and the Atlas hung on to stifle the Redwoods’ comeback attempt.
Following the bye weekend, the action picks up in San Jose, California with the Redwoods playing the dangerous Chaos and the Atlas taking on the Archers in a potential revenge game for the Arrows.