Everybody here wanted somethin’ more
Searchin’ for a sound we hadn’t heard before
And it said
Welcome to New York, it’s been waitin’ for you
-Taylor Swift, Welcome to New York (1989)
Last week, the PLL shipped up to Boston for the quarterfinals. The Redwoods, Waterdogs, and Cannons all punched their tickets to the semifinals. It’s a new era, or maybe I should stop with the Taylor Swift references and get back to lacrosse. The PLL descends on New York this weekend to find out who will play for the championship next week in Philadelphia. With no upsets last weekend in Boston, we will have the top four teams in the league squaring off. Before we preview the games, let’s look at the PLL’s Street Lacrosse on Friday night.
The PLL has worked tirelessly to not only legitimize professional lacrosse but also to grow the game. They found an answer to my question on Friday night at the Lower East Side Playground in New York City. Street lacrosse seeks to elevate having a catch with your friends in the backyard or at the park. How? CEO Paul Rabil answered that question at a press conference earlier this year.
“It’s anything you want it to be. A basketball court, a baseball diamond, or your backyard. One-on-one. Two-on-two. Three-on-three. Establishing goals, establishing rules. No equipment. Just a stick and a tennis ball, and let’s get after it.”
The event was part of Kevin Durant’s Build It and They Will Ball initiative. The Build It and They Will Ball initiative aims to increase the number of high-quality basketball courts accessible to underprivileged youth across the United States and internationally. Durant and his Five Ventures invest began a partnership with the PLL in 2022. Needless to say the action looks like it lived up to Rabil, Durant, and the league’s vision.
PLL Semifinal Preview
All times are EST; lines are courtesy of Draft Kings. The Build It and They Will Ball initiative aims to increase the number of high-quality basketball courts accessible to underprivileged youth across the United States and internationally.
PLL Semifinal Preview #1: Redwoods vs. Archers
⏰ 3:00 p.m.
💰Archers – 1.5
The Redwoods haven’t been to the finals since 2020, and the Archers have never appeared. Chris Bates and the Archers have pushed all the right buttons in 2023. They had the league’s best regular season record and earned a first-round bye last week. Veterans Tom Schreiber is coming off a gold medal in July and his second MVP award last week. Schreiber is arguably one of the most dominant midfielders in the game averaging 3.7 points per game. Schreiber and the Archers have been supported by a stellar defensive effort led by goalie Brett Dobson and defenseman Graeme Hossack. The Archers allowed the fewest goals in the league this year, 111.
The Redwoods are coming off a big quarterfinal win against the Chaos. The ‘Woods answered my offensive questions in the first half last week by jumping out to a 13-3 halftime lead. Wes Berg had a day with seven goals. Jack Kelly may be the key if the Redwoods pull off an upset against the Archers. The Team USA goalie had a 71.4% save percentage on Saturday.
Prediction: Archers 15 Redwoods 12
PLL Semifinal Preview #2: Cannons vs. Waterdogs
⏰ 5:30 p.m.
The two hottest teams in the playoffs will be playing in the nightcap on Sunday night. Both teams are also breaking the mold in 2023 without having a true face-off man. The Cannons are continuing their worst-to-first run in 2023. The Cannons continued scoring early and often in their 20-11 defeat of the Atlas last week. The Cannons are lethal on offense with defenses having a difficult time in trying to decide who to pole. Asher Nolting led the Cannons last week with 7 points (4g, 3a). Jonathan Donville (4g) and Matt Kavanagh (3g, 1a) both chipped in four points, and their leader Marcus Holman had three points.
The Waterdogs are looking to become the back-to-back PLL Champions. They overcame a stingy Whipsnakes team last week, 15-12. The Waterdogs are battle-tested and have had to scrape and claw their way into the semifinals. Andy Copelan has the Dogs playing and believing in one another. This game is and should’ve been played in Philadelphia next week.
Prediction: Waterdogs 19 Cannons 18 (OT)
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