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Top takeaways from PLL Week 5 in Boston

Connor Fields Connor Fields

California Redwoods 9, Boston Cannons 7

Jerome Taylor: Redwoods overcome the Cannons and a drought for their first win

It was a second-half refrain that has become all too familiar to Redwoods fans – a 10-minute-plus scoring drought. 

During that time, the Cannons got out to a 7-5 lead to start the fourth quarter. However, unlike weeks prior, the Woods offense flipped a switch, and dare I say, rolled to a 9-7 victory for their first win of the year. 

On the defensive end, they ended the game on a high note, producing a 16-minute scoring drought of their own to seal the Woods' first dub.   

Jack Kelly put up a monster performance, making 13 saves (65%), and was a brick wall behind an all-around stout defensive effort. Specifically, Chris Fake did a great job matching Asher Nolting’s force one-on-one, which allowed the Woods defense to stay home and limited Nolting’s ability to carve them up as a passer. 

“I thought he was outstanding. He’s so strong and such a good defender,” head coach Nat St. Laurent said about Fake. “I think he is one of the up-and-coming marquee defenders in this league, and it was a great step in the right direction today.”

Now, over to the offense. It wasn’t a high-scoring game, but the Woods offense got production from ol’ reliable sources and new faces. 

Rob Pannell put last week’s scoreless outing behind him with a three-point performance (2G, 1A), punctuated by a near-pipe goal to end the Woods' second-half lull, and then found Charlie Bertrand for a powerplay goal to give the Woods an 8-7 lead.

The coaching staff’s decision to move Chris Gray (3G) to attack also proved fruitful. He seemed more comfortable and aggressive at his natural position, attacking from the wing and X to get his first hat trick with the Woods. 

Heading into All-Star weekend, the Redwoods have some extra time to evaluate what worked, build upon it, and hopefully start a streak and climb the standings. 

Up next for California: vs. Utah Archers (Saturday, July 20, 5:30 p.m. ET)

Sarah Griffin: Cannons go quiet in the final frame to open their Homecoming weekend

It was a back-and-forth battle up until the fourth quarter, as the Cannons fell to the Redwoods in their opening game of Homecoming weekend at Harvard Stadium. 

A 4-0 run by California in the fourth quarter sealed the deal as Boston was held scoreless in the final frame.

St. Laurent said a point of emphasis for his team heading into Friday night’s game was to contain the Cannons midfield as much as possible. Especially after Boston’s last victory was headlined by two-pointers from their midfield group, it was essential for the Redwoods defense to shut them down the best they could. 

Both Matt Campbell and Ryan Drenner were held scoreless. Marcus Holman was the star of the show for Boston, scoring the first goal for his team along with three others for a four-point night. He moved into second all-time in one-point goals, passing Brendan Mundorf.

“This was the best crowd I’ve seen so far in the PLL,” Cannons head coach Brian Holman said. 

New York Atlas 17, Denver Outlaws 4

Lauren Merola: Jeff Teat, how about that?

Everything went right for the Atlas on Friday from end to end, and in the offensive zone, Jeff Teat gave all the fireworks shot off this weekend a run for their money.

Teat exploded – again – with nine points (6G, 3A) to collect 44 points on the season and tie the PLL single-season record. He should break that against the Cannons on July 20 and, while averaging 7.3 points per game, has a legitimate shot to catch Pannell’s pro lacrosse single-season record of 78 points set in the MLL in 2018.

There doesn’t seem to be a defender who can extinguish Teat. The Outlaws had no answer for him in their 13-point loss, and the Atlas and Gavin Adler cut off Brennan O’Neill from orchestrating another otherworldly comeback. O’Neill had no points.

Liam Entenmann got his first pro start after finishing Week 4’s game in net. He stopped 14 shots on 77.8%. Behind a sturdy performance from him and the defense, the Outlaws only had two goals with roughly eight minutes to play. Entenmann’s hands were quick enough to intercept passes, and he stole enough shots to show why he was the fifth pick in the 2024 draft.

Topher Adams: Progress isn’t linear

After two wins in a row, the Outlaws seemed to be settling into the season. They already doubled their win total from last year and looked like a contender in the Western Conference. Then they ran into the Atlas buzzsaw.

Everything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong Friday night. Denver kept hitting pipes and ran into a red-hot Entenmann in goal. Every loose ball and every rebound seemed to find an Atlas stick.

Parts of this game can be written off as a one-off, nightmare performance, but some of Outlaws' season-long struggles plagued them again in the loss.

Denver shot just 4-for-39 (10.3%). Rookie star O’Neill touched the ball just eight times and was shut off by Adler. Sloppy unforced turnovers killed offensive momentum all night. 
Denver will need to adjust its offensive approach after the All-Star game and hopefully get Logan Wisnauskas and Jack Myers back healthy at attack. The Outlaws need to flush this performance and build on what’s gone right most of the season so far.

If there’s any positive to take from this game, it’s Luke Wierman. The rookie faceoff specialist went 15-for-25 at the stripe against 2022 MVP Trevor Baptiste. Wierman might be the second-best faceoff man in the league right now, and that’s something to build on for Denver.

Up next for Denver: vs. Philadelphia Waterdogs (Friday, July 19, 6 p.m. ET)

Utah Archers 16, Maryland Whipsnakes 11

Zach Carey: Archers ride unbelievable individual offensive performances to first place in the West

Connor Fields’ “goal of the century” highlighted everything that went right for the Archers in a bounce-back offensive performance against the Whips.

Utah scored 12 unassisted goals on its way to reclaiming first place in the Western Conference. Critically, even though they only had three assisted scores, the Archers did well rotating the ball into matchups that they wanted to attack more than they had in past weeks.

“When we share the ball and guys are spaced, we’re really hard to stop,” Utah head coach Chris Bates said postgame. “It was nice to see it open up a little bit more today.”

Fields was the headliner, with his absurd between-the-legs, low-to-high rip providing the exclamation point on a resurgent display of dodging dominance for the Archers. But Mac O’Keefe (4G), Tre Leclaire (2G, 1T), Grant Ament (1G, 2A) and Matt Moore (2G) all had their moments to keep Maryland at bay.

Moore’s first two scores of the season were a critical boost. Through the first four games, he’d shot 0-for-13 with just one assist. Against a tough matchup in No. 3 overall pick Ajax Zappitello, he shot 2-for-6 and took pressure off the rest of the Utah offense as a result.

“To see him go at guys and get a couple goals, everybody was ecstatic for him just to sort of break that ice and get his confidence back,” Bates said. “That helps us a ton.”

On the back end, Brett Dobson continued to stand tall in cage with 15 saves, a 57.7% save rate and a string of impressive doorstep stops.

Now, the Archers move to 3-2 on the season a game ahead of the field with a valuable +2 scoring differential that positions them well to earn a bye in the 2024 Cash App Playoffs.

Up next for Utah: vs. California Redwoods (Saturday, July 20, 5:30 p.m. ET)

Adam Lamberti: Archers offense too much for the Whipsnakes

It was only a matter of time before the Archers offense came alive. Unfortunately for the Whipsnakes, it happened to be Saturday.

After recording nine goals in each of their last two games, the Archers put up 16 against the Whipsnakes, highlighted by Fields’ incredible tally.

The Whipsnakes had a subpar lacrosse game, and you can’t have a subpar game in the Premier Lacrosse League and expect to win.

Offensively, the Whipsnakes shot a poor 24% and committed 21 turnovers. That’s not going to win ballgames.

Defensively, the Archers’ offensive firepower was just too much. As Zach pointed out, the Archers scored 12 unassisted goals. That’s a lot.

Moving forward, look for the Whipsnakes to stick to their lineup. After all, this team beat the top-seeded New York Atlas last week.

However, I wouldn’t mind seeing them reach into the player pool for some defensive help, specifically at the short-stick defensive midfielder position.

Up next for Maryland: vs. Carolina Chaos (Friday, July 19, 8:30 p.m. ET)

Boston Cannons 14, Philadelphia Waterdogs 10

Sarah Griffin: A hometown crowd energizes the Cannons to a homecoming victory

It didn’t start off pretty, but it sure did end nicely.

After the Waterdogs took a commanding 7-2 lead to start the game, things were looking dreary for the hometown Cannons. Coming off a loss Friday night to the Redwoods, they wanted to give the crowd at Harvard Stadium something to celebrate on Saturday.

In the first half, the Cannons offense couldn’t find its flow and continuously made little mistakes that the Waterdogs defense capitalized on with ease. Defensively, Boston had no answer for Michael Sowers and Kieran McArdle. But in the second half, the Boom Squad came alive.

Head coach Brian Holman said he didn’t have any inspiring, revolutionary words for his team at halftime to revive them for the second half — they had all the motivation they needed. The Cannons simply did what good teams do and made adjustments that paid dividends in the third and fourth quarters.

A two-pointer from Marcus Holman to open the third quarter after a couple huge saves from Colin Kirst to push the ball into transition got the momentum going and, as Coach Holman said, “the offense flowing.”

Three straight goals from the Waterdogs might’ve slowed Boston’s roll a bit, but the Cannons responded in the best way possible: a 7-0 run to end the game.

After being left off the roster in Minneapolis, Matt Kavanagh gave a signature Matt Kavanagh performance with five points, leading the Cannons in goals with three.
Both Kavanagh and Jeff Trainor agreed there was absolutely a home-field advantage for the Cannons.

“We wanted to show out for the hometown crowd,” said Trainor.

An electric atmosphere combined with a 7-0 run led to the Cannons’ second win of the season over the Waterdogs. The boys in red, white and blue made sure to give their fans plenty to cheer about.

Up next for Boston: vs. New York Atlas (Saturday, July 20, 3 p.m. ET)

Wyatt Miller: Waterdogs offense falls flat in second half

After the dynamic duo of Sowers and McArdle set the field on fire in the first half, the offense went completely stale in the second. Philadelphia was held scoreless in the game’s final 16:33 while the Cannons went on a 7-0 run to complete a comeback victory.

The Waterdogs went 0-for-11 shooting to end the game, with Sowers on the sideline for much of the fourth quarter due to an injury. But even with Sowers on the field, the Dogs lost themselves down the stretch, trying to force shots and committing crucial errors. They committed as many turnovers in the fourth quarter (five) as they did in the entire first half, and all were unforced.

Early on, Sowers and McArdle were rolling, as they usually are against the Cannons. They scored or assisted on six of seven first-half points and consistently beat their one-on-one matchups with Bryce Young and Garrett Epple. Then, the Cannons adjusted.

“When Michael goes and beats his man a couple of times, they are going to adjust,” Waterdogs coach Bill Tierney said. “They slid to him earlier and made it harder for Kieran to get the ball. When teams do that to those two players, we have to get more from our midfield.”

Connor Kelly and Jack Hannah were the bright spots coming out of the box, each with two points. Hannah secured a massive caused turnover on a first-half ride to set up an unassisted score from Kelly before he got on the scoreboard himself. But that was where the scoring ended from the midfield. Ryan Conrad went 0-for-5 while Zach Currier shot 0-for-3 in a substandard performance from one of the deepest midfield units in the league.

“It’s tough to see (Sowers) go down, but it’s just a next-man-up mentality,” Kelly said. “I don’t think we lose confidence in our offense, but we just go to other guys.”

That approach didn’t pay dividends in the rivalry game, as the Waterdogs dropped their second game against the Cannons this season to fall to 1-4. They’ll have the All-Star break to regroup and think about how to reestablish an offense that has fallen short of expectations thus far.

Up next for Philadelphia: vs. Denver Outlaws (Friday, July 19, 6 p.m. ET)