The Premier Lacrosse League is shipping to Boston to start the 2023 playoff run. The Quarterfinals will be part of a triple-header starting at 11:45 a.m. on Monday—hats off to the league for moving the games from the weekend to Labor Day. Similar to Memorial Day and the Men’s D1 championship game, it provides an opportunity to showcase the game when people are at home. Six teams will play this weekend. The top-seeded Archers get a week of rest before playing the winner of the Redwoods and Chaos next week on Long Island. The 8th-seeded Chrome were the only team not to qualify for the playoffs. Head coach Tim Soudan will go back to the drawing board this offseason. Armed with the top pick, likely Brennan O’Neill, he will have to decide how to fix the 2023 version of Chrome’s broken offense. Now to the quarterfinal action.
Game 1: #4 Redwoods vs. #5 Chaos
- July 9 (Minneapolis)
- August 6 (Baltimore
The Redwoods win if…
Fix their offense. The Redwoods won their last three games to secure the 4th seed. The team knocked off a hot Cannons team before taking care of business against the Chrome and Atlas. Offensive inconsistencies have plagued the Redwoods for much of the season. Veteran stalwarts Myles Jones and Sergio Percovic were non-factors to start the season. Jones is now playing for the Atlas and Percovic hasn’t suited up since late July. The Redwoods have scored the league’s second-fewest goals (111), just ahead of the Chrome (81). Cole Kirst has provided a late burst for the ‘Woods, notching five points in the final game of the regular season. Kirst is young, so they may lean on veteran Rob Pannell to provide the spark.
The Chaos win if...
The bright lights are shining. The Chaos has a knack for doing just enough in the regular season and then making their run in the playoffs. Last year, the Chaos came in as the seven-seed and bombed the #2 Chrome 11-3. They did not win a single game in pool play in 2020, then won two games before falling in the Championship game to the Whipsnakes. The key to the Chaos’ success is goalie Blaze Riorden. As he showed this summer at the World Games in San Diego, Riorden is at his best when the bright lights shine. Riorden led the league with a 58.8% save percentage. Riorden might be the rainbow that leads the Chaose to their first pot of gold in 2023.
Game #2: #3 Waterdogs vs. #6 Whipsnakes
- July 14 (Fairfield)
The Waterdogs win if…
Continue to play consistently. That is the key word to describe the defending PLL champions. The Waterdogs were third in the league, averaging 12.9 scores/game, and third allowing 11.8 scores against. Last week’s come-from-behind victory over the top-seeded Archers showed that the Waterdogs are primed and ready to defend their title. They’ve accepted that winning faceoffs don’t matter like they used to and will play good defense and cause turnovers to create extra opportunities. They put on the master class in the final 30 seconds last week. Jack Hannah continued to prove that high bouncers will go (from distance). Then they turned over Archers’ fogo Mike Sisselberger and found Kieran McArdle in transition to complete the comeback. The sum is greater than the parts with the Waterdogs; their style and spirit may take them to Philadelphia again in 2023.
The Whipsnakes win if...
They wake up from their sluggish year. 2023 doesn’t seem to be the year of the snake. The year started with the team’s poor showing in the Championship Series. The Whipsnakes have been on the league’s most consistent teams since the league’s inception. Injuries sidetracked the Whipsnakes and left them 4-6 this season and the sixth seed for the playoffs. The Whipsnakes have prided themselves on strong defensive play led by goalie Kyle Bernlohr. Behrnlohr had been sidelined since Week 5 before returning this weekend. The Whipsnakes rank 7th in the league, giving up 12.8 scores/game. Behrnlohr should help correct that number and restore the Whipsnakes’ winning ways.
Game #3: #2 Cannons vs. #7 Atlas
The Cannons win if…
They keep scoring. The Cannons lead the league with 14.3 scores a game. Not bad for a team that was 1-9 a year ago and found out the game’s best player, Lyle Thompson, would not be playing in 2023, just before training camp. Brian Holman has transformed the roster and culture, leading the Cannons to the #2 seed in 2023. Marcus Holman leads the Cannons’ high-powered offense. The MVP candidate has taken his game to the next level since coming over from the Archers in the offseason. He leads the league in points (44) and 1-point scores (29). Holman has found an emerging star in Asher Nolting. Nolting is second in the league with 41 points and sixth overall with 21 1-point goals. Like the Waterdogs, the Cannons have moved on from worrying about winning the faceoff, choosing to score their competition out. Something that should bode well against the Atlas’ porous defense.
The Atlas win if...
They play defense. 2023 held lots of promise for the Bulls. They scored at will in the Championship Series, coming up short in the championship game. They had two of the top three picks in the 2023 draft and took arguably two of the best college defenders in the game in Gavin Adler and Brett Makar. Add to that they returned top fogo and reigning MVP Trevor Baptiste and the three-headed monster at attack Jeff Teat, Chris Gray, and Eric Law are one of the top units in the game. That promise brought them a 2-8 record and a -20 scoring differential on the season. Mike Pressler has his work cut for him this week as the Atlas face the league’s top-scoring team. More importantly, he must determine what changes must be made to reverse the fortunes that 2023 brought.
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