Week 2 in Atlanta was a great example of the current parity in pro lacrosse as certain teams finally are hitting their stride. The Cannons are more dangerous than originally assumed, the Whipsnakes look beatable, the Atlas and Waterdogs are alive and the Chrome and Chaos have some issues that they have to work through in the near future. Let’s take a look at each of the games from this past weekend.
Game 1: Waterdogs get second franchise win in 14-12 victory over Chaos
Week 2 started off with a matchup between two teams who only scored seven goals each and was the only matchup where the moneyline was effectively a coin flip (-113 for each team to win). If you thought Week 1 didn’t feature enough two-point goals, the Chaos and Waterdogs was the perfect game to start off your weekend with five of them throughout the game. Jake Froccaro (2 2G, 1 A) and Mac O’Keefe (1 2G) were the gunslingers for the Chaos and Mikie Schlosser (2 G, 1 2G) and Connor Kelly (1 G, 1 2G, 1 A) contributed from the Waterdogs.
After the first quarter the game was fairly even, but Chaos struggled in a scoreless second quarter and fell to a 14-8 deficit toward late in the fourth quarter. The Chaos found some momentum late in the game with just enough time to get Chaos -1.5 some hope with a flurry of goals, including a gorgeous two-bomb from Jake Froccarro.
However, the Chaos took only 28 shots and committed 22 turnovers. With those stats and the Waterdogs taking 40 shots, the Chaos are again asking Blaze Riorden (14 Sv, 55 %) to win the game alone. The Waterdogs, who always were shooting thanks to Barstool Big Cat’s advice, looked entirely different this week even without Michael Sowers. Ryan Brown (3 G) and Mikie Schlosser came alive after ending Week 1 scoreless. Roster changes after Week 1 clearly benefited the Waterdogs as well. Ben Reeves (3 G) and Ben Randall (2 CT, 2 GB) were quality contributors for the Dogs.
PLL Betting Breakdown: The underDogs ruined Chaos -1.5 bettors’ weekends early, effectively covering the spread, while also pleasing moneyline bettors as well. As for the O/U of 20.5, over bettors would come out on top, but they were much closer to being on the losing end than many realized.
As Dan Neubert explained in the Weekend Wager last week, DraftKings sets its totals based on “goals” scored, not “points.” If you saw the score in the fourth quarter (or listened to the broadcast) you’d assume the over had already hit with 7:31 left in the game. However, since five of the goals were two-pointers, the total remained under until Chris Cloutier’s garbage goal with 4.5 seconds left in the game. Talk about a close call.
Game 2: The Whipsnakes barely hold off Cannons in 15-14 OT thriller
In contrast to Week 1, Saturday had arguably the best games of the weekend. The Whipsnakes-Cannons matchup could not have been a better pick to air on NBC. Cannons LC wanted to show everyone that they belong in this league and came out swinging scoring 2 early. The Whips were slow to respond at first. By half, the Whips were up 8-4 and the Cannons spent the rest of the game catching up.
Some serious issues were plaguing the Cannons in the first half. Questionable slide decisions generated offense for the Whipsnakes. Undisciplined defense led to many penalties (six by the end of the game, including a penalty before the game winning goal) of which the Whipsnakes took full advantage. Andrew Kew missed an open net opportunity and failed to recognize he had a free two-point shot available. Their fast break defense lacked adjustments and allowed Nardella (55% at the stripe, 3 A) to connect with Zed Williams who had six goals by the end of the contest. This exact play almost ended the game in OT, but Nick Marrocco (16 Sv, 52%) bailed his defense out.
The Cannons overcame many of these issues, led by Lyle Thompson (4 G), Ryan Drenner (3 G), an absolute dart of a two-point goal from Deemer Class (1 2G, 1 A), Stephen Rehfuss (2 G against the short stick matchup) and Paul Rabil (2 G, 1 A). Rabil is showing that he deserves the long stick matchup and that he is not afraid to dodge against the reigning best LSM in the league in Erhardt and generate offense through pure athleticism.
Overtime featured a back and forth that lasted about a minute. After Marrocco’s giant save, Bernlohr (21 Sv, 62 %) responds in kind with his own massive save. The Whips clear the ball, draw a flag in the process, and John Haus goes off to the races and scores sweeping across the top of the arc. While the Whipsnakes were victorious, the Cannons showed that the Whipsnakes will not be allowed to another championship weekend without a sizeable challenge.
PLL Betting Breakdown: The Cannons outscored the Whipsnakes 10-6 in the second half to bring it to overtime to the lament of all the bettors who picked the Whipsnakes to cover the spread (-1.5). The Cannons have now covered the spread in all three of their games. If you were bold enough to bet the Cannons on the moneyline at +185 though, you fell victim to this week’s Wager Woe…
Game 3: Atlas beat Redwoods in 12-9 upset
After Week 1, the Atlas came into this game knowing they had something to prove. The whole lacrosse community became bulletin board material for their locker room as only 7% of people chose the Atlas to win in the PLL Pick ‘Em contest. Even I, a loyal Atlas fan, did not pick them to win this week, but still took them against the spread (+2.5) making me much less of a bandwagon-er for celebrating this victory. This game was also probably the easiest Under (O/U 25.5) I have ever hammered.
What ensued was truly a game of runs that featured the six C’s of Lacrosse: Concannon, Carraway, Cockerton, Costabile, Chick, and…. Concannon! Atlas would score multiple goals, then the Redwoods would take their turn, but it was never quite enough. At the stripe, the battle between Trevor Baptiste and TD Ierlan was effectively even in the head-to-head matchup, although Ierlan took advantage of reps where Baptiste could not face off. Everywhere else, the Atlas really stole the spotlight. Their offense, which struggled with stick skills in Week 1, had 5 players with more than 1 point: Carraway (3 G, 1 2PG), Law (3 G, 1 A), Cockerton (2 G, 1 A), Costabile (1 G, 2 A), and Logan (1 G, 1 A). These players were only responsible for three turnovers and, while there were still some terrible turnovers, it was a massive improvement from Week 1. Law looked more than comfortable initiating from X and either shooting or distributing, and Logan was contributing in transition. Carraway would not be stopped, diving and landing 4th on SportsCenter’s Top 10 on Monday morning.
Productivity in the Redwoods’ offense was much more concentrated. Only two players had more than 1 point and only one player had more than 1 goal: Pannell (3 G, 1 A) and Jones (1 G, 3 A). This was a huge success for the Atlas defense. Michael Rexrode took the Pannell matchup and played much better than Pannell’s stat line might imply. Craig Chick (3 CT, 5 GB), who did not dress for Week 1, held Jules Heningburg to 1 G and 2 Shots and effectively cemented his spot in the game day roster. The unit as a whole seems to be more synchronized, although still can be weak off ball at times. After last week, the Atlas benefitted from a generally slower paced offense compared to that of the Archers. Finally, Jack Concannon (17 Sv, 65%, and NO 2PG allowed!) had arguably the most to prove of any player in the league coming into this game and it is now one of my favorite goalie performances to watch of all time.
PLL Betting Breakdown: Whether you took the underdog Atlas (-2.5) against the spread or on the moneyline, you were rolling in the dough. On the flipside, the Redwoods are now 1-2 against the spread, making them a cautious play going forward.
Game 4: Chrome are their own worst enemy in 14-9 loss to a seemingly revitalized Waterdogs
Both teams entered this contest without one of their most important initiators in Jordan Wolf and Michael Sowers. However, constant heckling from team owner Barstool’s Big Cat and the momentum of the Waterdogs’ win on Friday must have carried into this game. Off the initial face off, Ryland Rees scores a two-point goal and it set the tone for the entire game. Afterwards, it became the Ryan Brown and Mikie Schlosser Show with eight points between the two and collectively shooting for roughly 55%. It seemed everyone on the Waterdogs wanted to prove they could be an initiator.
Eight (8) players had two or more points which is a stark contrast from Week 1. Their power play is, at best, still hard to watch and their offense is still frequently committing shot clock violations. While this 14-9 loss seems fairly commanding, the Waterdogs offense still left a lot on the table. Even Ryan Boyle mentioned on broadcast leading into the half, “Man, this is one of those games where the Waterdogs are clearly outplaying the Chrome. And yet, here they sit with only a two goal lead.”
The Chrome did not find the same level of success without their leading offensive player. Michael Manley, who plays defense, was tied for first in points with 1 2PG and 1 A. While credit should be given to the Dogs’ defensive unit, that’s a bad sign for your offense. Jackson Morrill (3 G) had an impressive showing but it wasn’t enough to turn the tide of the game. In total, 24 turnovers were committed by the Chrome and 16 of them were unforced. It was reminiscent of Week 1 Atlas. If all of this wasn’t enough, Jesse Bernhardt left the game due to injury which leaves a team already struggling defensively without their field general. It will be interesting to see if the Chrome make any moves during the bye week to deal with these injuries and adjust for their next game.
PLL Betting Breakdown: The Waterdogs covered both as underdogs on Friday and 1.5 -point favorites against the Chrome on Sunday. The Chrome have been 1.5-point underdogs in both their matchups and failed to cover in both matchups. The spread will have to increase for the injury-riddled Chrome to become a smart bet anytime soon.
Game 5: Archers wake up from first quarter nap to cover the spread against Chaos, 12-8
In the last game of Week 2, the Archers take on the Chaos after dominating Atlas. The Archers were expected to easily cover the spread in this contest. Surprisingly, the Chaos put pressure on early. Ian MacKay, now an LSM, scored two 2PGs from 19 and 22 yards from the cage against Drew Adams taking his first start of the season.
The Archers only scored once in the first quarter and were constantly turning the ball over. Archers came to life in the second quarter, outscoring the Chaos 6-3 and tied the game going into half. Aside from MacKay scoring four points in the first quarter, only Dhane Smith (2 G) and Jack Froccaro (1 G) would record goals for the Chaos before the half.
Afterward, the Chaos were completely stagnant. Sergio Salcido (1 G) would score the only goal for the Chaos in the second half. Mac O’Keefe, Wes Berg, and Josh Byrne were all but silent. Stephen Kelly (71%) dominated Kyle Gallagher (35%) at the stripe in Gallagher’s first pro start. Adams was pulled for Adam Ghitleman (7 Sv, 88%) who was saving the few shots the Chaos took in the second half. The Chaos defense left Blaze Riorden on an island on defense. If not for Riorden’s performance (21 Sv, 64%), this game could have been Archers vs Atlas Round 2. Instead, a scoreless fourth quarter ensued, which featured the Archers offense versus Blaze Riorden and Riorden won handedly.
While the Archers had a slow start offensively, they put on a show in the second and third quarters. Casual no-look behind the back passes or impossibly precise skip passes were present in almost every possession and 53 shots were taken in total. The usual suspects led the comeback: Grant Ament (2 G, 4 A), Will Manny (5 G), Tom Schreiber (2 G, 1 A), Marcus Holman (1 G, 1 A). The PLT Win Probability Engine shows how the Archers chipped away at the Chaos’ early lead over time below.
PLL Betting Breakdown: The Archers (-2.5) covered the spread once again (though they certainly made bettors sweat it out), while the Chaos have failed to cover in all three of their games. Until Andy Towers’ squad shows they can compete for four quarters, fading the Chaos could be the best strategy.
Epoch Moments of the Weekend
Last week it was Josh Byrne with the acrobatic, hangtime goal. This week, Zach Currier Tried his hand with an incredible, no-angle goal.
Paul Rabil continues to score in a variety of ways, with the most impressive coming this weekend and landing him at the #9 spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10.
Yet, John Haus and the Whipsnakes would have the last laugh in overtime.
Atlas rookie Jake Carraway recorded the first of what will likely be many hat tricks. Saturday’s included this no-look, crease dive goal that landed him at #4 on SportsCenter’s Top 10.
Ian MacKay may have switched positions since being acquired by the Chaos in a trade with Archers LC, yet that didn’t stop him from putting up four points on two shots (2 2PG) against his former team.
Yet, Archers would prevail thanks to a run of electric goals, including this Grant Ament to Marcus Holman connection.
Looking Ahead to Week 3
As we head into the first bye week of the season before Week 3 matchups at Homewood, there are a few storylines to keep an eye on.
The off ball defense of the Atlas will be tested again with the faster offenses of the Whipsnakes and Cannons. Rexrode guarded Pannell fairly well, but will he matchup with and be able to contain Zed Williams or Lyle Thompson? Will the offense continue to produce against good defenses after a good showing against the Redwoods?
Waterdogs will be tested similarly. The Waterdogs struggled against a clearly strong Cannons team in Week 1 and, while showing clear improvements in Week 2, won against teams each with their own myriad of issues. Dillon Ward has yet to have a game with a save percentage above 50%, how could this potentially affect the contest?
Will Chrome make waiver wire moves to fill holes left by injuries, especially on their already struggling defense?
How will Chaos adjust their offense so that they can maintain pressure on a Redwoods defense which the Atlas showed can be beaten? The offense shoots well when they are generating shots, but aren’t generating enough opportunities to contend. What defensive adjustments will be made, if any, to alleviate some of the pressure that is constantly on Riorden?
Are reinforcements from north of the border coming? There are currently a handful of Canadian players on the “unavailable to travel” list due to Canada’s COVID-19 quarantine protocols. However, with Canada starting to relax its restrictions, we could see the return of several Canadian fan favorites in the coming weeks… fingers crossed for #1 PLL College Draft pick Jeff Teat!