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PLL Weekend Wraparound: Redwoods, Whipsnakes and Archers Impress

As the PLL season kicked off this past weekend lacrosse fans were treated to a little bit of everything in an exciting fashion. The Whipsnakes proved their still the team to beat with a resounding 13-7 victory over Chaos, while the Redwoods seem to have found their solution at the stripe in TD Ierlan, the Archers offense looked as lethal as advertised against the Atlas, and Lyle Thompson is definitely #LyledIn for the season. Here’s a look back at what happened during Week 1 of the 2021 PLL season and what the week ahead might have in store. 

Game 1: Redwoods Come Back to Top Cannons 12-11 in Season Opener

Friday night lacrosse under the lights in Gillette Stadium did not disappoint at all as the Redwoods needed a late goal from Rob Pannell to cap off a four-goal, fourth quarter rally to claim the victory and spoil the Cannons’ PLL debut. The ‘Woods led by three at half before Paul Rabil and Andrew Kew led the Cannons offense on a 6-0 run in the second half to take an 11-8 lead in the final frame. That was when the Redwoods offense sparked back to life thanks to a Jules Heningburg goal to start the previously mentioned four-goal run.

Rob Pannell made the most of his ‘Woods debut on Friday putting up a hat trick including the game-winner while four other players scored twice for the team. The biggest story for the ‘Woods though might have been the dominance of TD Ierlan at the stripe. After losing his first three faceoffs in the PLL, Ierlan was just as dominant as he was in college going 21-24 the rest of the way. The former Albany/Yale/Denver standout finished the night winning 78% of his faceoffs (21/27) and getting the game ball from coach Nat St. Laurent. For the Cannons, Lyle Thompson didn’t miss a beat in his PLL debut, scoring under a minute into the game. He would finish with two goals, while Paul Rabil looked dialed in with his new (old) team scoring a hat trick and adding an assist. 

PLL Betting Breakdown: The Redwoods (-1.5) managed to come away with the victory, but it was the Cannons (+1.5) that pleased bettors by covering the 1.5-point spread in their 12-11 Friday night loss. As for the over/under of 22.5, the over narrowly hit by 0.5 point, which we’d later learn would become a trend for Redwoods games…

Game 2: Whips Cruise Past Chaos, 13-7

Game two of the weekend was nowhere near as close as the previous game as the Whipsnakes reminded the rest of the league why they are the back-to-back defending champs with a 13-7 victory over Chaos. Even with a six-goal differential at the final buzzer, the game wasn’t as close as the scoreboard seemed. Jim Stagnitta’s squad outscored the Chaos 13-3 through the first three quarters before letting the Chaos inch back into it a little as they scored the final four goals of the afternoon. 

Offensively the Whips picked up where they left off in the bubble as reigning MVP Zed Williams scored four goals on 13 shots. Apart from Williams, the Whips offensive depth was on full display as John Haus was the only other player with more than one goal. At the stripe, the Joe Nardella show rolled on from the bubble as the Rutgers product won 16-22 (73%), while adding 6 GB, 1 G, and 1 A. 

For Andy Towers’ squad, off-season addition Wes Berg was one of the offensive bright spots scoring three goals on four shots. Berg was one of only four Chaos players to record a point in the game, joined by Dhane Smith, Josh Byrne and Chris Cloutier. 

PLL Betting Breakdown: The Whipsnakes (-2.5) had the largest point spread heading into the weekend, but it was no problem for the defending champs who covered easily. Despite the dominant victory, the Whips weren’t able to run up the score enough to push the point total of 22.5 over the top.

Game 3: Archers Firing on All Cylinders, Soar Past Atlas 18-6

One of the storylines all summer and through the preseason has been the Archers’ offensive firepower. Would they be able to utilize all the weapons they had properly and get everyone the ball? The quick answer to that question was a resounding YES. 

The Archers put up 15 goals in the first half including nine in the second quarter. That’s one goal roughly every 1:20 during the second quarter for those of you keeping track. The new look Atlas had four different players score led by John Crawley, but they weren’t able to muster nearly enough firepower to challenge the Atlas. 

Christian Mazzone and Scott Ratliff led the Archers with four points each, while 11 different Archers tickled the twine in the victory. In net, Adam Ghitleman was stellar as well, making 17 saves on 21 shots, an 81% save percentage. If you’re looking for a place that the Archers will want to improve heading into week two, it’ll be a stripe where Stephen Kelly (10-23, 42%) was bested by Trevor Baptiste. 

PLL Betting Breakdown: In 2020, the Archers (-2.5) notoriously failed to cover the spread against the Atlas (+2.5) after giving up a goal with 45 seconds in their 11-9 win over the Atlas. That wasn’t the case for the 2021 Archers (-1.5), who took care of business against the Atlas (+1.5) in their season opener.

Game 4: Cannons Take First PLL Victory 13-7 Over Waterdogs

After dropping their first game on Friday night, there wasn’t any way a team using the Cannons moniker was going to leave Boston (er, Foxborough) without a win. The Cannons made sure of that as they came out firing on Sunday outscoring the Waterdogs 9-2 in the first half. In the second half the Waterdogs were able to find a little bit more of a rhythm out scoring the Cannons 5-4, but that wasn’t nearly enough. 

The big guns kept rolling for the Cannons as Lyle Thompson did Lyle things scoring four goals. He was joined by former Bayhawks teammate Andrew Kew who put up a perfect shooting performance scoring four goals on four shots. Paul Rabil kept his campaign to silence the “washed up” chants by scoring twice, giving him five goals through the first two games. 

Rookies from both sides made impacts for their squads as Michael Sowers scored twice in his PLL debut for the Waterdogs while Stephen Rehfuss had three points for the Cannons. The Cannons survived the double-header weekend with a 1-1 record, while the Waterdogs head into week two still looking for win number one.

PLL Betting Breakdown: The underdog Cannons (+1.5) managed to cover in both of their games, and they even pleased those who took them on the moneyline in their 13-7 victory over the Waterdogs (-1.5).

Game 5: Redwoods Outlast Chrome 14-11

One week into the season the Redwoods have already found themselves on the positive side of two classic lacrosse games after topping the Chrome 14-11 to move to 2-0 on the season. The final game of the weekend got a little chippy down the stretch, but a seven-goal second quarter was the ultimate difference for the ‘Woods.

Rob Pannell continued to be classic RP3 putting up five points for the Redwoods, but the biggest offensive story for the ‘Woods might have been the performance of Jules Henningburg. After missing the bubble season Henningburg emphatically reminded the PLL why he was so dangerous in season one, scoring a hat trick paired with an assist for the ‘Woods. Offensive balance continued for the ‘Woods as six different players scored.

On the other sideline one of the biggest stories for Tim Soudan’s Chrome squad was the departure of Jordan Wolf due to injury. In his place Jordan MacIntosh stepped up, scoring a quartet of goals, but the loss of Wolf will be something to keep an eye on moving forward. 

At the stripe TD Ierlan impressed again, winning 15-28 against the much bigger Connor Farrell. 

PLL Betting Breakdown: The Redwoods may have won their first game, but they failed to cover the spread for bettors in their win against the Cannons. That wasn’t the case on Sunday, as the Redwoods (-1.5) defeated the Chrome (+1.5) 14-11, providing a three-goal cushion to spread bettors. As for the game’s total of 24.5… that leads us to our Wager Woe of the week. We’ll let Dan Neubert take it away…

Epoch Moments of the Weekend

You can’t have a “Moments of the Weekend” without the first PLL goal for Cannons LC, which just happened to be Lyle Thompson’s first PLL goal. In case you forgot somehow, Lyle didn’t waste any time reminding everyone that he is still very good at lacrosse. 

And for good measure here’s another highlight of Lyle doing Lyle things. 

Myles Jones went airborne in the Redwoods win over the Cannons. We hope to see some frequent flyer Myles throughout the season…

The Chaos might not have won on Saturday, but everyone is still trying to figure out how Josh Byrne pulled this one off.

Also… The Whips offense is still very, very very good.

Speaking of offense. We could’ve included the entire Archers team here, but who doesn’t love pole goals and two-bombs. So why not combine the two?

Also Grant Ament is still making no look passes look easy like Sunday morning.

And your weekly reminder that Tom Schreiber is good at lacrosse.

Lastly, here’s your reminder that he might be out of college but Michael Sowers is still a problem for teams (also the pass from Zach Currier ain’t too shabby either). 

Looking Ahead to Week 2

There’s plenty of storylines as we head into week two of the PLL season. How will the Whips handle Lyle and Co? Will the Cannons be able to keep Matt Rambo relatively quiet on the scoresheet for the second week? Which team will claim their first victory?

Friday night lacrosse under the lights in Atlanta brings us the Chaos and Waterdogs, who are both battling for their first victory of the season. Both teams looked a bit out of sorts at times during week one with lots of new pieces in place, and not much time to get acclimated before opening day. Which team will be able to adjust and mesh the best heading into week two to come out victorious? With several big pieces still on the unable to travel list the Chaos offense has sputtered through the scrimmages and week one. Will the offense be able to get firing or will they sputter again against former goalie Dillon Ward.

If you are part of the “ban the faceoff” movement this next paragraph isn’t for you, so just skip ahead. Saturday afternoon we get TD Ierlan vs Trevor Baptiste. Through two games in the PLL, Ierlan has impressed but Baptiste will be quite the challenge for the rookie. The two split faceoffs almost down the middle when meeting up in college, but things are different in the pros. After winning just above 50% against Conner Farrell last Sunday it will be interesting to see how Ierlan fairs against Baptiste this time around.

League Standings

Team Wins Losses Ties Shots For Shots Against Score Differential
Redwoods20026224
Archers10018612
Whipsnakes1001376
Cannons11024195
Chrome0101114-3
Chaos010713-6
Waterdogs010713-6
Atlas010618-12

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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