A good old fashioned shootout in Dallas. In fact, several of them. Archers and Waterdogs led the charge with a 37 goal track meet which had the potential to be a championship preview. A few major stories played out in Dallas. Chrome sat All Star faceoff specialist Connor Farrell, who is at 70% from the spot on the year, to run the prevent against the Atlas. Rob Pannell scored his 300th career goal, joining one of the most exclusive clubs in outdoor pro lacrosse. The Whipsnakes offense is finally healthy, and looked it. The second half charge is on. Only one team misses the playoffs, so it's not a big race for a playoff spot, but it is important to peak in September. That run starts now
1. Archers (5-1). Last Week: 1
They played Waterdogs this week for a spot at the top of the standings, both the real standings and these power rankings. They had to battle for it, but Archers came away with the win. Waterdogs seemed to have fully abandoned the faceoff specialist. Mike Sisselberger went 33-36 at the spot. It seems as though coaches and the league don’t like using the word “concede” around draws but folks, that’s what the conceding of a faceoff looks like. The play that comes after isn’t conceded but boy that clamp sure is. In a testament to the Archers depth of offense, they put up 19 goals and Grant Ament had just one point. The Archers have spent the year near the top of the standings, top of the rankings, and look as complete as ever. Siss and Dobson are both spectacular. But the real question for this team has always been about performing in the playoffs. When that calendar flips to September, they’ll have to keep hot.
2. Cannons (4-2). Last Week: 4
What a difference a year makes. There was some, uh, “discourse” around the Cannons season so far on social media this week. The take of “the Cannons are better without Lyle Thompson” was lobbed and that was it, the bird app was aflame. Just to say my piece on this. It’s never that easy. This player isn’t there and the record got better or worse does not equal the player's absence being responsible for the change. There was a full roster overhaul and, to the greater point, a major sideline overhaul. Last year, there were weeks where it looked like the Cannons gameplan was “Give it to Lyle and yolo.” Or the same, but with Asher Nolting. This year ain’t that. Coach Holman, and to give some credit to guys who also very much deserve it coaches Jim Mitchell and Mikey Thompson, have this team organized and ready to execute every week. The Cannons have the highest rate in the league right now at 58%. Right now I wouldn’t pick against them against anyone but the Archers.
3. Waterdogs (4-2). Last Week: 2.
Waterdogs slide just a bit with their loss to Archers. They still are no fogo, no problem, putting up 18 goals in the losing effort. The offense still hums nicely, they share the ball, and they’re crazy deep. On their 18 goals, 13 different players had a point. Ethan Walker had seven. Currier had four assists. Waterdogs can go toe to toe with anyone. The Waterdogs only committed 11 turnovers in this game. They were not just coughing it up, they made the Archers earn it. They were without Dillon Ward in this game, which could have ended up being the difference. Waterdogs get Cannons next week, where faceoffs could be an adventure.
4. Whipsnakes (2-4) Last Week: 6
Time to fear the Whips? They’re a team that hasn’t been healthy yet this year. No hyperbole, they still haven’t play a game with a fully healthy, playoff game type roster. They were close this week, Matt Dunn was ruled out after practice. But the offense was healthy, and that was a much better look. 17 goals against the Chaos and Blaze Riorden is about as good as anyone can do. What’s more, they had goals from nine different players. Nobody with more than two goals. And nobody on offense with more than two turnovers. A clean, outstanding offensive game. Will Manny hit the game winner, but this was an offense that looked like what you can imagine Coach Stagnitta had in mind. The train is leaving the station, hop on if you’re a Whips fan.
5. Chaos (3-3). Last Week: 3
Really didn’t play that badly. They put up 16 goals. There won’t be too many weeks where Blaze Riorden goes under 50%. In his career he’s had fewer games under 50% than he has games over 60%. Amidst all the weapons, Brian Minicus took more shots than anyone on the team this week, followed by Josh Byrne. That’s telling for how the offensive is evolving this year. Will Bowen continues to put together spectacular defensive performances. In this game he caused four turnovers, picked up three ground balls, and had two points. He is backstopping the defense as a voice and organizer, which is just not something rookies are trusted to do. Usually the indication that rookie defenders are comfortable and trusted is that they get left on an island to win matchups. It’s not often they also are the voice of the defense. Chaos can beat anyone, but they can also be beat by anyone. Like most of the league. The middle of the standings is a mash of just that every week.
6. Atlas (2-4) Last Week: 7
A nice get right game for the Bulls this week. They took on Chrome, who went without a specialist so Trevor Baptiste got to be Trevor BapFeast. I won’t apologize for that, and you can’t un-read it. Trevor is currently at 80% on the year, and based on the tactics being used, will almost certainly set a record for faceoff percentage in a season. The Atlas played fine in this game. Nothing spectacular, but you saw things you wanted to see. Jack Concannon was at 58% in net, making 11 saves although there were a few you could see he wanted back. The turnover number was still high. Koby Smith hit a two pointer early to spark the team, you could tell it was the kind of play they needed to get themselves going. The offense is going to be fine every week. The defense has been the problem, so keeping a team to single digits is a confidence builder. Atlas get Archers next week and an opportunity to let people know they’re for real in the second half.
7. Redwoods (3-3) Last Week: 5
Another tough week for the Woods. They battled early and held tight against a very good Cannons team, even leading after one. But a five goal run just got the Cannons rolling. Woods committed twice as many turnovers as the Cannons, Kelly had a down game, and they shot 22%. That’s not a winning recipe. On the positive note, the Redwoods saw eight of their ten goals assisted. They came in with the second worst assist rate in the league. Sharing the ball is good, even in a loss, because the Woods can resort to hero ball if things really start going back. Two of those assists came from Nakeie Montgomery, who was moved to a purely offensive midfield role in a roster shakeup. Kevin Rogers, a new addition, had a goal and an assist. The offense is trying to find itself. Lastly, Rob Pannell joined the 300 goal club in the game, an absolutely incredible achievement. You can count those club members on one hand.
8. Chrome (1-5) Last Week: 8
Tough times continue for Chrome. They have lost five straight, and been hold to single digits in three straight. They sent Dylan Molloy to the player pool this week, despite those offensive struggles. Connor Farrell got sat against Atlas despite being at 70% and coming off the All Star game. Sam Handley has started to look more comfortable, hitting his first career two this week and only committing one turnover. Jesse King also looks good, and there are clearly talented weapons on the roster. They just can’t seem to get things moving on offense lately and string good possessions together. Their schedule the rest of the way is brutal, with games against Whips, Archers, Woods and Chaos left. Chrome fans may start watching Brennan O’Neill tape soon.