A week is in the books. We know a little bit more than we did last week, but not much. After an opening weekend that included three games decided by one goal, the most watched pro field lacrosse game ever on ABC, and some truly outstanding individual performances, the PLL heads to Charlotte for Week 2. One game this weekend is back on network TV, while the other three are on ESPN+.
Last week, I was 3-1 on game picks and 2-2 on totals.
For the year, I am 3-1 on game picks and 2-2 on totals/
Chrome (1-0) vs Archers (1-0)
When: Friday, June 9th, 6:00pm
The Spread: Archers favored by 1.5, total set at 24.5
Both teams looked excellent in week one. Like the rest of the league, they had their share of opening weekend type mistakes, but as they sharpened up, they looked like elite teams. Both look to be heavyweights right now.
The Archers injury report will be something to watch. Grant Ament left last week’s game with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. Coach Bates would say the team was being conservative, and the injury doesn’t look similar to what Ament dealt with a year ago. Still, Ament will be out this week as he gets healthy. Absorbing his loss won’t be as difficult as last year though, given just how good Connor Fields has looked at attack. Ament being out means Matt Moore or Connor DeSimone likely move up to attack, and the Archers fill in the midfield from there. Against the Cannons, Schreiber got the bump up to attack as well, which is a way to save his legs a bit as he returns from injury. Ryan Aughavin joins the squad this week as a two way midfielder who can spell Schreiber when he moves to attack.
Chrome had their young guns show out against the Whipsnakes. Sam Handley’s physical dominance was awe inspiring as he put his defender on the ground multiple times. Cross Ferrera had four points, including the game winning goal while being defended by Ty Warner. Jackson Morrill tossed four assists from X and committed zero turnovers.
Archers defense will have to find a way to matchup with the physical play of the Chrome. Handley will have a size advantage over just about everyone on the Archers. He’s a quality passer, so just doubling to hunt a caused turnover won’t work. The usual large offensive regulars like Colin Heacock and Logan Wisnauskas will have to be dealt with. Ferrera at this point has probably earned a pole, giving the Chrome physical advantages against shorties in multiple spots. The Archers SSDM unit looked like maybe the league’s best in Week 1, this is much tougher matchup than the Cannons.
Chrome defense won’t have to contend with Ament. Call this a hot take, but the Archers offense can be just as good without him as with him. The key for the Archers is to break teams down with ball movement and the full six offensive players. They don’t lean on individuals, even as those as special as Ament. His absence, all told, probably doesn’t do much to change the way the Chrome approach things, it may just shuffle matchups a bit. JT Giles Harris will likely guard the top dodger, Manley will take a bigger matchup like DeSimone, and Bernhardt will be an organizer. Terefenko is unique in that he can guard attackmen if needed. He’s locked up Connor Fields before, and Chrome could try that as the matchup to go to again.
Finally, Sisselberger gets a prove it game. Bones Kelly is a step below Connor Farrell, and Farrell is more ready to match Sisselberger physically. The 32 second shot clock after faceoffs clearly had a week one impact, and Farrell had some tough possessions off the ground that cost the Chrome valuable time. The faceoff impact has been reduced, but it’s still important.
It’s tough to pass underdogs in the PLL. Chrome look like a true title contender through a week, sporting a roster that is above league average everywhere. Last week, members of the Whipsnakes pointed out just how much the Chrome play lacrosse like they do. I think the championship level play is part of that analysis. I’ll take Chrome +1.5 and under 24.5
Waterdogs (1-0) vs Redwoods (1-0)
When: Friday, June 9th, 8:30pm
The Spread: Waterdogs favored by 1.5, total set at 24.5
Waterdogs won last week but won very ugly. They remain atop the Sticks In Power Rankings for now as the defending champ, but they are not on solid footing.
After a tough week against Nick Rowlett, Zac Tucci hits in the inactive roster and rookie James Reilly gets his first start. Not an easy matchup as it’s not just TD Ierlan, but John Sexton and Nakeie Montgomery who were both outstanding on wings. That group going up against Reilly, Zach Currier, and Ryland Rees is one of the better unit vs unit matchups of the week.
Redwoods offense last week had John Grant Jr finger prints all over. Lots of big/little games behind with Pannell, mirror by sweeping action across the top to free up their big shooters and midfielders. Ryan Lee and Eli McLaughlin have been activated but aren’t in the lineup yet, they’ll make these offense even more dangerous. They showed they can be patient and get the best look rather than just launching salvos. The Redwoods took the fewest shots in the league in week one, but had the league’s best shooting percentage. Waterdogs defend the full field well. Last week, Brian Minicus gave Ben Randall issues, but had nothing to do with the ball once he separated because the Waterdogs help defense was so good. This week, that defense gets Dillon Ward back. The Redwoods offense will once again need to shoot for a high percentage.
The Waterdogs offense had plenty of chances against the Chaos, but Blaze Riorden wrecked their afternoon. Kieran McArdle won’t have too many more 0-9 days this season. Michael Sowers gets another tough matchup this week in Garrett Epple, but if he can squeeze out a few points, the Waterdogs can do damage elsewhere. A question in week one was about the Redwoods defensive midfield, and Montgomery answered the ball in a big way. He’ll need to again this week, guarding a dodger like Connor Kelly or Ryan Conrad. Kyle Borda could be an X factor. The Fairfield Stag turned Ohio State Buckeye looked good in camp scrimmages, and Coach Andy Copelan said the team has tremendous confidence in him to step in for Jack Hannah as he does this week.
The Waterdogs played with fire in week one, playing ugly but getting bailed out by a great defensive effort. It’s a better matchup this week, but by no means an easy one. Epple/Cohen/Glazener can be just as suffocating when their hitting on all cylinders. Montgomery could be up for another big day, as both teams could look to push transition and score in the unsettled rather than crack the opposing six man group on defense. The Woods look a little better in a track meet right now. Redwoods cover, and the game goes over.
Whipsnakes (0-1) vs Atlas (0-1)
When: Saturday, June 10th, 3:00pm
TV: ABC and ESPN+
The Spread: Atlas favored by 1.5, total set at 24.5
Atlas and Whipsnakes. For the uninitiated, Atlas haven’t beaten Whipsnakes. Ever. Most every other possible team combination has been played enough times for both teams to win. But Atlas are winless against Whipsnakes.
The Whips get a critical player back as Zed Williams returns from the indoor season. This weekend will be the first look at the attack of Williams, Matt Rambo, and Will Manny. They’re also dressing four defensive midfielders this week, no doubt an adjustment to the 32 second shot clock, as Grayson Sallade gets his first action as a pro. Whipsnakes team defense will need to be on point to handle Xander Dickson, already showing off the intelligence that make him a brutal matchup off ball. He diagnoses defensive scheme like a season vet, and attacks the space that the defense leaves when they slide to players like Jeff Teat, Bryan Costabile, and Chris Gray. Last week, the Whipsnakes gave up 12 goals, 10 of which were assisted. Atlas will need to draw slides against Matt Dunn, Michael Ehrhardt, Bryce Young, and Tim Muller, which is easier said than done.
The Atlas defense last week got torched off ball. Tucker Durkin showed his age a bit and struggled to handle Ryder Garnsey and then Wes Berg as an off ball defender. The Whipsnakes defense won’t make things any easier, particularly Manny. Keegan Khan and Mike Chanenchuk can also really hurt teams that don’t defend all six players well, with Chanenchuk doing the damage from range. Cade Van Raaphorst being released was surprising as help defense is his strong suit, and more surprising is that the Atlas is sending the same defensive group again out again. Their top SSDM, Danny Logan, is active after being listed as doubtful and clearly won’t be 100%. Last week was tough, this week might be tougher.
The week one Atlas were fine, but clearly not the better team against Redwoods. The same defensive unit, with a bang up Danny Logan, taking the field is a little concerning. Will Manny can go from guarded to not just unguarded, but shooting, in a blink, and could have a big day against at Atlas defense that struggled in week one to guard off ball. Gavin Adler will get a much tougher matchup this week and get to show #1 overall level skills against Rambo or Zed. The impact of the faceoff has been reduced by the 32 second shot clock, so a big day from Trevor Baptiste doesn’t necessarily equate to a win. Whipsnakes win outright, and the over hits.
Chaos (0-1) vs Cannons (0-1)
When: Saturday, June 10th, 5:30pm
The Spread: Chaos favored by 1.5, total set at 23.5
First and foremost, the Bandits are back. Dhane Smith is not in the lineup yet, but Josh Byrne, Ian Mackay, Chase Fraser, and Chris Cloutier are back. Max Adler is on the reserve, but given how dominant Nick Rowlett was last week there’s no need to rush Adler back if he’s banged up from the indoor season.
The Chaos defense played like the best in the league a week ago. The Cannons are a team still finding themselves a bit. Jack Rowlett’s matchup will be interesting. Jarrod Neumann typically handles physical, one handed matchups well, and is a good candidate to guard Asher Nolting. Rowlett could just as easily get that job, bumping Neumann to Kavanagh. Will Bowen put the league on notice last week. If you turn your back to goal, if you don’t come off a pick with speed, if you do anything other than maximum effort, he’s putting the ball on the ground. It’s an excellent scheme fit for Chaos, who hunt turnovers and play aggressively, often not sliding to their poles and leaning on Blaze Riorden to be the best in the world.
The Cannons are not the Cannons of 2022. They shared the ball well in Week 1. They scrapped. They couldn’t win a faceoff, and they ran into a hot goalie. They took care of the ball, committing just 13 turnovers, the fewest in the league. The Chaos were at the opposite end with a league leading 25. With Bubba Fairman, Jeff Trainor, and Pat Aslanian, the Cannons can do D to O well. That should be a part of the plan, as 6v6 against the Chaos will be a tough proposition for them. Cannons also went back to Bones Kelly this week, even though he struggled mightily against Sisselberger a week ago. If Nick Rowlett gives Kelly the same problems, it could be indicative of a major issue for the Cannons. The pieces are there, but the puzzle just isn’t done yet. Cannons are still swapping goalies, finding the fit on offense, and developing their identity. But just raw talent alone is there for them to be competitive.
Chaos hunt turnovers, and will try to force them, but nobody in the league committed fewer than the Cannons a week ago. Cannons are also top four both in shots taken and shooting percentage. It’ll take a sharp, turnover light day to beat the Chaos. It a lot of cases, this much roster turnover in a week might cause problems, but the Bandits know the drill and the scheme. Minor rust, but riding a bike. Byrne should be the most dynamic offensive player on the field if he’s at 100%. Chaos cover the 1.5, and the game goes under.