PLL Quarterfinals Preview: Players to Watch, Keys to Victory

(Photo Courtesy of PLL)

The group play stage of the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) Championship Series has concluded and it is time to shift gears towards the playoffs. All seven teams make the playoffs, but the No. 1 seed, which Whipsnakes locked up on Sunday, gets a first round bye. The other six teams will face off in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. 

The Bracket

 

No. 2 Chrome LC vs No. 7 Chaos LC 

The first game of the playoffs is a rematch of the first game for these two squads back on July 25th. Chrome comes into this contest with a 3-1 record with their only loss coming against Archers. Chaos is 0-4. 

Players to Watch: 

Jordan Wolf has taken hold of the Chrome offense and has been one of their prime leaders throughout the championship series. Wolf is the fourth-leading scorer in the league, recording 14 points (7G/7A) through the four group play contests. Last time against Chaos he had the hot hand, putting up four points (3G/1A). 

Goalie Blaze Riordan has been the most consistent and impressive player for this Chaos squad. Averaging 18.75 saves per game, Riordan leads the league in both saves (75) and save percentage (65%). Riordan’s worst game of the championship series came in game one against Chrome when struggled mightily, allowing 13 goals and posting his lowest save total (10) and percentage (43%) of the entire series. Expect Riordan to show up and play much better against this Chrome team this time around now that he has found his feet and gotten into a rhythm since their last meeting. 

Keys to the Game:

The Chrome defense that we are seeing this year looks light years ahead of what they had last season on that end. And they will need to lean very heavily on those guys if they want to advance to the semifinals. From John Galloway in goal through their core group of poles in Mike Manley, Jesse Bernhardt, Jake Pulver, LSM’s Reece Eddy and Eli Salama, defensive midfielders and two-way guys, Chrome’s defense has to bring the heat, stay poised, and stay out of the penalty box. 

Outside of their game against Redwoods, which was an overtime loss, Chaos has been atrocious at the faceoff dot. Tommy Kelly ranks seventh in the league with a 33% win percentage (27-for-83). Chaos has got to find a way to neutralize Connor Farrell, who went 18-for-23 (78%) last time out, or find another way to hold momentum. Because if they don’t, this contest will look just like their four group play games, great efforts but a loss. Chaos has the talent on both ends to be much better than 0-4, but they have got to put a full game together for once. 

No. 4 Redwoods LC vs No. 5 Waterdogs LC

Redwoods and Waterdogs will meet for the very first time as they each look to advance to the semifinals. Redwoods comes into this contest with a 2-2 record, winning their last two games after their first two games. Waterdogs come into this contest with a 1-3 record after securing the club’s first win against Chaos on Saturday. 

Players to Watch: 

Sergio Perkovic is the highest-scoring midfielder in the league. Through the Redwoods’ four group play games Perkovic has put up 13 points, which includes six two-pointers. Perkovic has been a focal point of this Redwoods offense and he should continue his production as teams move into playoff mode. 

While he was banged up earlier in the championship series, Zach Currier lived up to the hype that he came into the PLL with in Waterdogs’ win against Chaos. The midfielder is an all-around player and can make a huge impact in multiple ways. He has currently recorded five points (3G/2A), scooped up 17 ground balls, and caused two turnovers. 

Keys to the Game:

Redwoods have the worst one-point shooting percentage in the league (19%) and the best two-point shooting percentage in the league (63%). The key to this squad moving on to the next round is how their offensive midfielders play, and in particular how efficient they can be. The dynamic duo of Sergio Perkoic and Myles Jones is no doubt dangerous, but they are much less dangerous when they are forcing shots that aren’t there. And the same goes for attackman Ryder Garnsey and the rest of their offense. They can’t take stupid shots and win. 

Playing good in between the arcs is something that this Waterdogs team was built to do. With many guys that can fit almost anywhere on the field, this squad is almost 100% positionless. And playing that way starts with pushing transition, making those hustle plays, and being the better team when it comes to play in between the arcs. If they come out and dominate the middle of the field with both their middies and faceoff unit, just like they did in the second half against Chaos, there isn’t much that can stop this squad. 

No. 3 Archers LC vs No. 6 Atlas LC

The final quarterfinals game will feature a much-awaited rematch between Archers and Atlas. Last time around Archers walked away with the one-goal victory. Archers come into the playoffs with a 3-1 record while Atlas sits at 1-3. 

Players to Watch: 

Grant Ament was the first overall pick in the 2020 Collegiate Draft and he has been as advertised during this championship series. Ament is the second-leading scorer with 17 points (6G/11A). He put up four points (3G/1A) against Atlas last meeting, which was his debut as a pro. 

Atlas midfielder Bryan Costabile was the second overall pick in the draft and he has also lived up to the hype, proving to be one of the most reliable young two-way players in the league. Costabile has put up nine points (6G/ 1 2pt/1A). He has also caused two turnovers and scoped up five ground balls. Five of his points came against Archers. 

Keys to the Game:

Pushing transition will be a huge key for Archers success in this contest. We have seen them have a ton of success in transition with poles like Scott Ratliff who can handle the rock and midfielders like Christian Mazzone, who seemingly ends up in front of the cage every time he gets the ball. Also, with Ament, Holman, and Manny at attack, moving the ball in transition can be pretty easy and could very well earn them a few extra goals. If they can get that transition offense going they will be playing in the semifinals. 

Atlas has not looked good in multiple areas this season, and they could clean up a lot of areas of their game. But one of the biggest is the issue of trying to force everything on offense. Paul Rabil has let the ball die in his stick numerous times trying to make a play when it wasn’t there and the same can be said for multiple other offensive players. If they just move the ball like we have seen them do, use guys like Chris Cloutier and Eric Law in effective ways, their offense could be humming all game. And we have seen glimpses of it, but nothing more. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s