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PLL Championship Series: Round Robin Takeaways

Even in year two, we’re learning how to play this game


There were a few schools of thought at play in the round robin games. The format itself, just in its nature, pushes players to go fast. It’s up and down, there are opportunities to counter attack all the time, it’s got remarkable pace, and players running on adrenaline can let that get to them. Some teams have looked for chances to play a little more slowly. The Redwoods, off goals and restarts in their own end, tended to get the ball to Romar Dennis, who would wait and let the Woods sub their personnel on in front of him. It only takes a few seconds, and 25 seconds of offense in Sixes is still plenty. The Cannons would look for rapid counters, particularly off saves. Adam Ghitelman had more assists than saves in his half of play against the Archers, and the Cannons led 17-11 at half. It’s personnel dependent whether you want to try and just put the pedal down the whole time, or pick spots, and teams are still learning what they’ll do. 


It’s still really hard to coach Sixes during the game, and that’s good for players


Last year, all the coaches remarked that once the game gets going, it can feel like it’s out of your hands as a coach. With so few stoppages, and a game that basically doesn’t even stop, you don’t have many opportunities to adjust in a meaningful way. Some coaches this year, who outside of Coach Bates are new to the event, are finding the same thing. Archers had moments were they went from man to zone, but that kind of broad change doesn’t really need a timeout. In the sense of making small little tweaks, it’s really a players game. They have to talk through things, figure it out, and create. 


The Unleashed game is my favorite version of Sixes


I am very much a novice when it comes to women’s lacrosse. I am learning, trying to watch more, consume more, appreciate more of the women’s game. The field when I watch sometimes feels crowded, there’s more space, I’m trying to follow it. Watching the exhibition game, all the things that I had a hard time working through or trying to understand got stripped away. Sixes takes it down to the basic, the simple, and the exciting. In a manner of speaking, I was target audience for this. Someone new to the sport, interested in understanding it, looking for a reason to stick around and watch another game. I got that in spades. Every single trip up and down had a highlight, had an exciting play. When the game ended I immediately wanted to fire up the stream and watch it again, just in case I missed something. It was joyful, skillful, and fun. Everything I love about lacrosse. 


Injuries suck


Friday night’s games saw a handful of injuries that were rough to watch. Garrett Epple was ruled out with a hamstring strain, Ricky Miezan and Cole Williams both were ruled out with lower body injuries, and Ryan Aughavin was ruled out with a foot injury. Being ruled out doesn’t necessarily mean the injuries are serious. When the whole event is about five days long, any injury that you can’t walk off is basically event ending. Miezan’s injury was unfortunate because he’d been at the center of so much marketing for the event, fans were loving watching him play and excited to see him, and he was genuinely was playing well. The word around sidelines is that the Redwoods considered Miezan priority one in free agency for the regular season. Hopefully, that stays the case. Williams is a player the Archers just acquired, playing to earn himself a deal for teh summer, but didn’t get enough time on the field to stand out in the format. It’s an opportunity for other players. If a team loses two players to injury, they can add someone from a reserve pool that’s on site. In this case, Redwoods added Kyle Long and Archers added Kevin Winkoff, so those two get a chance to stand out. 


The return of Perkovic?


Sergio Perkovic had a summer to forget, struggling in the early going and ultimately being a healthy scratch down the stretch. The Sixes format, with no poles and short two point line, felt like the opportunity for him to get back into his old two bombing ways. Early on, some frustration remained. He had great opportunities saved on Friday, got his shot but missed the net, and was visibly frustrated in some games. But on Saturday against the Archers, there was some vintage Perkovic on display. The Motor City Hit Man finished with six points on two goals, two assists, and a two pointer. He got his own shot, he found teammates through help, he hit the net with seven of his eight shots and finished 37.5% shooting. He had that level of impact on 26 touches. It was a welcome return to form. Perkovic is set to be a free agent come March, and this event was an opportunity to show the the league what he still brings to the table. The Archers tape was a great showcase for him. 


Romertime


The Redwoods had two games in round robin play go to overtime, and Romar Dennis hit the game winner for them both times. This led to Coach Chris Collins saying after the second that some on the team had taken to calling it “Romertime”. Both OT wins have come after a Rob Pannell facing win (where he’s had a ton of success this weekend), and with a goal on the first possession. After the game, Collins praised Dennis’s consistency, referring to his attitude and preparedness for the moment. Dennis plays in OT like the same player he is during regulation. Others might try to press or looking for an early shot because it’s a golden goal format, but Dennis looks comfortable. Time of game doesn’t matter. While he hasn’t been the two point dynamo he was a year ago, he’s still tied for third on the team in points and leads the team in two point goals.


Ronan Jacoby should free up his summer weekends

 

Nobody is making more of their first opportunity in the PLL than Ronan Jacoby. The Archers are missing a lot of their talent either due to injury or NLL commitments. Jacoby was an excellent college player at DIII Wesleyan before joining Rutgers for a grad year that ended with a Final Four loss to Cornell. His gaudy scoring totals in DIII made it clear he'd be a solid fit for Sixes. But he'll almost certainly get a shot at field this summer with the way he's played. Jacoby is third in the league in points after pool play, trailing only Kieran McArdle and Marcus Holman. He leads the league in one point goals. He's shooting a mind blowing 56.5%, and of players with 10+ shots taken, that trails only Ryan Drenner in the league. Jacoby showed up having really only trained on his own and played men's league since 2022, but has thrived being thrust into the Archers spotlight.


Can defense win a championship?


The Waterdogs defensive end of the field has been outstanding. Matt DeLuca has been the MVP of the weekend in my eyes; he’s currently saving 50% of shots and has the best GAA in the tournament, and that’s playing full games while most other teams split halves with their goalie. The Sixes format is about as hard as it gets for goalies, seeing a ton of shots but also seeing a new shot and new possession very quickly is challenging. The “short memory” mantra for goalies has never been so important. But the defense in front of him, which is essentially just the Waterdogs SSDM core, has been great. Christian Scarpello, Charlie Hayes, and Jake Higgins have all brought a ton to the table. All three can be trusted to win a matchup individually. And that’s with them being asked to guard some of the best attackman in the world. The way they defend, particularly around the two point line, with footwork and with their stick just bring disruptive to the opponent’s hands, is a big reason why nobody has hit the 20 goal mark against the Waterdogs yet, and the team is 3-0.


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