Anticipation was building as the Chaos and Whipsnakes battled early in the 2021 PLL Championship game. The teams traded runs until the Chaos eventually rolled into halftime with an 8-6 lead. Even with the advantage, the events of last year’s finals prevented Chaos fans from relaxing and allowed Whipsnakes fans to stay confident, akin to Kansas City Chiefs fans in the 2020 Super Bowl run, knowing Patrick Mahomes was always moments away from exploding.
Surely, Joe Nardella would take over, winning faceoffs with ease and turning it into offense. Zed Williams would not stay quiet and was certainly poised to explode in the second half once again. Finally, Matt Rambo would be there when his team needed him for yet another clutch goal, right?
But it never happened. Max Adler improved as the game progressed and swung the matchup enough to finish with a 50-50 split with Nardella at the stripe. With Jarrod Neumann on Matt Rambo and Jack Rowlett on Zed Williams, plus an airtight defensive game plan, the two stars of the Whipsnakes and heroes of last year’s playoff run could not even muster a goal. Combining that with a locked-in Chaos offense led to a 14-9 PLL Championship win.
The season was an achievement in all facets for both Andy Towers and his coaching staff as well as the players on the field. The team was a mess to start the season, with no real identity, and the only consistent performer being Blaze Riorden between the pipes. The offense juggled players in and out of the lineup, the defense was disjointed and Adler struggled to adjust to the new league as the team limped to an 0-3 start and championship odds of 15/1 on DraftKings.
A commitment to a box-styled offense on the field with players like Chase Fraser, Kyle Jackson, and Ryan Smith joining the active roster midway through the season bore fruit in the playoff run as the team averaged 14 goals on 8.33 assists through the playoffs. Shifting Ian Mackay to defensive midfield and adding CJ Costabile at LSM coupled with some schematic wizardry by assistant coach Ryan Curtis bolstered the defense. Adler improved his timing and looked like the player that Chaos thought they’d get when he was drafted in the first round on the PLL Entry Draft while the championship and league MVP Blaze Riorden continued to perform like the best player in the world.
The scoring in this one started with a bang as Jay Carlson flicked a between the legs shot into the top corner and gave the Whipsnakes the first goal of the game.
Dhane Smith, who had been one of the best players in the league through the playoffs, answered with a quick inside dodge to score. The teams then tied it up at two before the aforementioned trading of runs commenced. The Chaos cooked to a 5-2 lead, but the Whipsnakes roared back to tie it at 5-5. A late second quarter goal by Brad Smith made it 7-6 and it appeared the Whips had some momentum, but it was quelled by this absolute bullet from Mac O’Keefe.
In the second half, the Whipsnakes got a goal to go down by only one, but Josh Byrne hooked up Chase Fraser for the answer. The Chaos did not look back from there as they poured in five more goals and only allowed one from the Whips. In a shocking turn, Max Adler not only returned after a vicious hit from Matt Dunn, but he played his best lacrosse following that play.
The Chaos offense was exquisite in the six-on-six. Dhane Smith and Josh Byrne took turns initiating and, when they weren’t getting their own shot, they found their teammates oftentimes right on the doorstep. Fraser and Chris Cloutier were the beneficiary of some excellent passing and few players put the biscuit in the basket like those finishers. The off-ball movement was constant and purposeful, and each player knew their exact role.
Their defense only got better as the game wore on and Blaze Riorden cleaned up mistakes like only he can. Overall, it was an excellent display of lacrosse from both ends by Andy Towers’ squad and they earned the 2021 title.
PLL Betting Recap: The Chaos were the moneyline underdogs in this one, so there was definite value there. The real value, however, was nabbing the Chaos at as high as +1500 to win the PLL Championship when they fell to 0-3 and looked disjointed. Otherwise the Chaos defense and play of Riorden kept this one below the 23.5 O/U marker, and, as far as the player props go, if you rode the Chaos on offense, you likely benefited, but if you expected Zed and Rambo to explode, you were left wanting.