If this weekend of lacrosse taught us anything, it’s that we know nothing. Between the Michael Sowers-less Waterdogs trouncing both of their opponents, Atlas handling the Redwoods despite only 6% of viewers picking them to win, or the PLL’s newest expansion team taking the two-time defending champion to their breaking point, most came out of this weekend knowing less about the league than they did coming in.
I think that’s a good thing, too. Parity in a league as small as the PLL (eight teams) makes it all the more fun to watch. If you’re guaranteed a (relatively) even matchup no matter what game you turn on, that’s all the more incentive to tune in.
Anyways, I digress. Here are some of the many notes that I took away from week two of the 2021 season:
Theme of the weekend: Rebounds
Between Jay Carlson sweeping up every Whipsnakes shot that leaked out in front of the cage and both the Atlas and the Waterdogs looking like completely different versions of their week one selves, rebounds were a hot topic this weekend.
Let’s start with Carlson, I mean it’s absurd what that guy does. You can just camp him in front of the net, go bombs away with the rest of your offense and Carlson’s going to scoop up every rebounded save and put it in the net. In an offense where defenders have to worry about Zed Williams, Matt Rambo, Brad Smith, Mike Chanenchuck and John Haus dodging, feeding and scoring, you also HAVE TO make sure you know where Carlson is at all times in front of the net, or he is going to make you pay.
Those goals are absolute back-breakers for a defense and especially a goalie who theoretically just made a nice save.
Now onto the Atlas. They took this offseason as a rebuilding year and they looked the part of a team in that mode to a tee in week one. The offense was turning the ball over left and right, Jack Concannon couldn’t save a beach ball and that defense wasn’t stymieing anyone. Coming into Saturday against a heavily favored Redwoods squad, no one thought they had a chance. Well, just as we all expected, the Atlas came out and won pretty handily, 12-9. Ben Rubeor’s squad thrived on contributions from his entire roster but maybe none were bigger than that of Jack Concannon who paved the way with 17 saves.
Talk about rebounds, the difference in the way Concannon looked in cage from week one to week two was a night and day contrast.
Last but not least, the Waterdogs finally looked like the team I predicted to be the fourth-best in the PLL this preseason. Not to toot my own horn, but I suggested last week that the Michael Sowers-less Waterdogs would have to look for offense in other areas and it may serve them well, and “serve them well” turned out to be a massive understatement. The Dogs went 2-0 on the weekend and players who were non-existent in week one stole the show in week two. Ryan Brown finished the weekend with eight goals on 15 shots (53%) after going 0/7 shooting in week one. Mikie Schlosser was finally unleashed as the downhill dodger he is and currently sits at T-1 with Paul Rabil for most scores at the midfield position in the league (seven).
Don’t be surprised if the Dogs + a healthy Michael Sowers challenge some of the league’s best come playoff time.
Chaos in serious trouble
Starting 0-3 is suboptimal in any sport, but in a short season like the PLL has, your obituary is pretty much written. What this means for Andy Towers’ club is that their playoff run essentially has to begin now. They can maybe afford one more loss, but two will likely put the nail in the coffin. With the Redwoods coming up for their next game followed by the Cannons the week after that, it’s going to take a herculean effort to go 2-0 in those contests. The bye this week will do every team well, but maybe none more for the Chaos who need to regroup after stumbling out of the gates in 2021.
Cannons can become even deadlier than they already are
I will go more in depth on this at a to be determined date, but the Cannons took the best team in the league to overtime on Saturday and didn’t even look that good doing it. I know, that sounds crazy but their offense (that scored 14 goals, might I add) did not look in sync at all and I honestly think they’re still feeling each other’s games out. The amount of times I saw midfielders trying to set a screen for the best dodger in the world, Lyle Thompson, was astounding. They ended up just getting in his way and wasting possessions. Whenever Lyle was given space and the offense cleared out, he was routinely getting shots off against the best defenders in the PLL.
Also, the Cannons bread and butter in a Sean Kirwan-style offense is going to be scoring off assists and not playing iso-ball. Only 4/14 (29%) of their scores were assisted, a number I’m sure head coach Sean Quirk will be pointing to this entire bye week. You have to remember, this team was formed in the offseason and has only played in three games together. It might take some time, but I have full faith that this Cannons offense can reach a new dimension if they put it all together.
Poles should start pulling up from Curry range?
Yes, I wholeheartedly think that LSM’s and defenders in transition should look to shoot two pointers every chance they get. The PLL version of lacrosse was built for a fast-paced style, there’s no point in settling the ball down (aside from certain situations) with a 52-second shot clock. Not only that, but long poles generate far more velocity than short-sticks do simply because of the torque created from a six-foot metal rod. 16 players have scored two pointers through two weeks of the PLL season, five of which are LSM/Defenseman. Goalies have a near impossible time reading the ball out of long-sticks and by the time they react the ball is already behind the cage. Don’t believe me? Ask Archer’s goalie Drew Adams:
The two-point shot is a momentum-changer in any situation, but it stings a little extra when it’s a long-pole scoring it.
SHOOT THE DAMN ROCK, LONG POLES.