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PLL Recap: Nardella dominant in Whipsnakes’ 15-6 victory over Atlas

Photo courtesy of the Premier Lacrosse League

College lacrosse fans didn’t get a Maryland-Hopkins matchup this season, but rest assured the rivalry lived on at the pro level as the Maryland Terps Alumni (Whipsnakes) and Blue Jays alumni (Atlas) squared off on Thursday night.

A big second quarter run for the Whipsnakes helped them cruise past the Atlas, 15-6, remaining one of the thee PLL teams left undefeated at 2-0. 

It didn’t take long for the offenses to get rolling as both teams found the back of the net in the first 1:30 of play thanks to the Atlas’ John Crawley and Whipsnakes’ Max Tuttle. Paul Rabil notched things back up at 2 when he grabbed a pass from Rob Pannell and worked his way into the highlights with a one-handed finish to tie the score back up.

Jay Carlson took advantage of a turnover, putting the Whips back up by one, 3-2. The Bulls had their chances in the first quarter, but Kyle Bernhlor stood on his head making eight saves to keep the Whips up by one after one.

Pannell’s elite feeding abilities got back to work in the second quarter to tie the game back up. Ryan Brown found some time and space and calmly capitalized on a Pannell feed to tie it up at 3-3.

Watching from the other end though Matt Rambo played a little bit of “anything you can do,” feeding Zed Williams back on the other end, for the Whips to retake the lead. Williams’ goal would spark a 5-0 run to end the first half for the Whipsnakes. Carlson was the lead on the Whipsnakes with three goals on three shots.

That Whipsnakes run to end the first half was fueled in large part by Joe Nardella, who won nine straight times at the stripe and finished the half 10-13. Bernhlor aided the Whipsnakes as well, making 10 saves with a 77% save percentage in the half. 

In the second half the Jay Carlson show continued as the Whipsnakes attackman scored his fourth of the night in highlight reel fashion (cue SportsCenter music), putting the Whipsnakes up 9-3.

The Whipsnakes added one more in the third to make it 10-3 after 36 minutes of play. The defense was the story as they held the Atlas off the board, with everyone chipping in to help keep the ball out of the net. 

After 25 minutes and nine Whipsnake goals, the Atlas got their fourth of the game courtesy of Romar Dennis, but the Whipsnake lead was already 12-4. The Whipsnakes didn’t let up down the stretch, finishing off the Atlas 15-6. 

The Nard-Dog Domination

After winning nine straight face-offs in the first half Joe Nardella, dominated the Atlas throughout the game finishing the day 16-for-21 at the stripe. His 76% won blows his his previous performance of 33% against Trevor Baptiste last season out of the water.

Well rested

The Whipsnakes headed into Thursday’s meeting well rested, after having the last five days off. Jim Stagnitta’s squad opened the PLL Championship Series against the Redwoods on Saturday, but were the last team to play their second game. The reigning champs now must play three games in four days, including tonight’s game against Atlas, before heading into the playoffs. 

New hats for all

Three different Whipsnakes got themselves hat tricks in the victory over the Atlas. Jay Carlson, who finished his hat trick in the first half, scored four for the Whipsnakes. Mike Channechuk and Zedd Williams each finished with three goals a piece.

PLL Betting Breakdown

The Whipsnakes took care of their 1.5-point handicap with ease, winning by nine points. They also did their part in putting up points, but thanks to the lack of production from Atlas, the O/U of 22.5 once again hit the under. So far the Whips have covered in each of their two games and put up an average of 14 points in the process.

Next Up

It’s a short turnaround for the Whipsnakes (2-0) who take on Chaos LC (0-2) on Friday at 7:30pm ET on NBCSN. The Atlas (1-2) will look to right the ship in their final game before playoffs by taking on Redwoods LC (1-2) on Saturday at 1pm ET in a game that is sure to have major seeding implications.

Isaac Berky is a graduate of Adrian College and Syracuse University with degrees in Digital Media and Broadcast Journalism. Even though his playing career never took off, he's been able to cover the game on the collegiate level as a broadcaster, while also working around the sports industry before joining Pro Lacrosse Talk as a contributor.

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