(Photo Courtesy of PLL)
After a condensed, bubble season in Utah last summer, the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) has returned to their traveling schedule for its third season of play, which is set to be its best and biggest ever following the league’s merger with the MLL over the offseason that led to a plethora of talent joining the league and finally, after two summers of dueling leagues, housing all the world’s best field talent under one roof. The merger also led to the league adding an eighth team: Cannons Lacrosse Club.
Arguably the world’s best players, Lyle Thompson, was picked up by Coach Sean Quirk and the Cannons in the offseason, and while Thompson scored the first and third goals of the contest to help give the Cannons an early 3-0 lead, it wasn’t Thompson nor the Cannons who stole the show during the league’s opening night on Friday and Gillette Stadium.
In a prototypical game of runs, Redwoods was able to put it together when they needed it most. Nat St. Laurent’s club came back from a 5-3 first-quarter deficit to take an 8-5 halftime lead and then answered a six-goal second-half run that put them down 11-8 with 7:46 in the fourth to secure a one-goal, 12-11, season-opening victory.
A massive part of Redwoods’ effort on Friday night came due to their success at the faceoff dot, where rookie TD Ierlan showed everybody why the ‘Woods took him at No. 4 in April’s college draft. Ierlan dominated in his PLL debut, going 21-for-27 (77%) at the dot to help will Redwoods to victory.
In addition to Ierlan’s dominant performance at the dot, Rob Pannell looked like his old self with a five-point (3G/2A) season debut with his new team and Tim Troutner put on one heck of a show in between the pipes, ending the game with
Redwoods also took their second of a weekend doubleheader on Sunday against Chrome LC, 14-11, behind a five-point (2G/3A) outing from Rob Pannell. Jules Heningburg and Sergio Perkovic each had a hat trick, which includes a two-pointer from Perkovic, and TD Ierlan went 15-for-28 (54%) in a battle with Chrome’s Connor Farrell at the dot.
Lyle Thompson and Andrew Kew each had four goals to lead Cannons to their first-ever PLL win against Waterdogs, 13-7, on Sunday. Additionally, Nick Marrocco made 11 saves to anchor a solid Cannons defensive effort.
Champions Start Strong
In the PLL’s 2021 season television debut on Saturday, two-time defending champions Whipsnakes LC showed that they are still as legitimate a threat as they have ever been, taking down Chaos LC 13-7.
Joe Nardella went 16-for-22 (73%) at the dot, scooped up six ground balls, scored a goal, and dished out an assist to help lead Whipsnakes in the victory. Reigning league MVP Zed Williams scored four goals to lead the Whipsnakes offense.
Jim Stagnitta’s club got up 7-1 at the end of the first quarter, thanks in part to the massive possession advantage Nardella’s dominance at the dot provided them, and never looked back. Whipsnakes blanked Chaos 3-0 in the second quarter to take a 10-1 halftime lead and added on three more in the third quarter to get to 13 and further seal the deal.
Chaos, who was led by a hat trick from Wes Berg, was able to win the fourth quarter 4-0 but it would’ve taken a more than herculean effort to overcome their 13-3 deficit fully in one quarter.
Archers LC Shows Off Buzzsaw Offense
During the bubble season in 2020, Chris Bates’ squad showed off one of the most impressive offenses in the league after adding Grant Ament to a unit that already featured Marcus Holman, Will Manny, and Tom Schreiber. This offseason they added Connor Fields, and again things have seemed to only improved – at least for now.
In their 2021 season debut, Archers took down Atlas LC 18-6 with 10 different goal scorers and 15 of their goals coming in the first half alone.
Christian Mazzone led Archers with two goals and two assists for four points while D/LSM Scott Ratliff had one two-pointer and two assists for four points. Adam Ghitleman made 17 saves with an 81% save percentage to anchor the Archers’ defense.
Despite the Atlas’ shortcomings on both ends of the field, Trevor Baptiste took care of business at the faceoff dot as he went 14-for-22 (64%) and scooped up seven ground balls.
Week One Scores
Friday, June 4th
Redwoods LC 12, Cannons LC 11
Saturday, June 5th
Whipsnakes LC 13, Chaos LC 7
Archers LC 18, Atlas LC 6
Sunday, June 6th
Cannons LC 13, Whipsnakes LC 7
Redwoods LC 14, Chrome LC 11
The PLL heads to Atlanta next weekend for week two of the 2021 season. Chaos LC faced Whipsnakes LC to kick things off on Friday night. Whipnakes LC-Cannons LC and Redwoods LC-Atlas LC (both on NBCSN) will cover Saturday’s action while Chrome LC-Waterdogs LC (NBCSN) and Chaos LC-Archers LC will be played on Sunday.