The world was introduced to the new era of professional lacrosse last week with the inaugural weekend of the Premier Lacrosse League. In case you missed it, check out my PLL Week 1 Recap, where we discussed my experience at Gillette Stadium, how the new rules affected the pace of play as well as the faceoffs, and how they are changing sports forever with their broadcast. Check it out Right here.
So last week we saw the first ever PLL game go into OT as the Archers L.C. downed Chrome L.C. off a steamer from Archers L.C. #4 Will Manny. The game featured an epic comeback by Chrome L.C. led by attackman #14 Justin Guterding aka “Gutty” which has taken flight on the PLL social media platforms.
ICYMI: Here’s Archers L.C. Will Manny going high to high off a feed from former Harvard midfielder #3 Danny Eipp. Smart play by Eipp it looks like the Harvard education is paying off on the field for him and his team. Did I mention he played at Harvard? Harvard.
Woah, Woah, Woah, Woah, Woah.
Hold on a second. Play that celebration again.
What a celly by Willy the Kid, so simple yet so freaking smooth. The Archers definitely lead the league in celebration style points; the bow and arrow celly is just too slick, too good, too perfect. Archers L.C. won this one 13-12.
That intense game was followed up by another terrific matchup between legendary coach Jim Stagnitta of the Whipsnakes L.C. and one of the most prominent personalities in the league Andy Towers head coach of Chaos L.C. The Chrome L.C. got off to a slow start but used toughness and displayed excellent resiliency to stage an epic comeback in the second half to force OT. In the end, Whipsnakes L.C. #23 Drew Snider found a soft spot in the middle of the field and took advantage of a beautiful Matt Rambo feed to bury his shot bottom left and end the game, Whipsnakes L.C. won by a score of 15-14.
In case you missed that game, or my last blog that recapped all three games last weekend, here’s the Drew Snider game-winner in overtime:
In the first nationally televised game on NBC Sports, co-founder of the Premier Lacrosse League Paul Rabil and Atlas L.C. took on Redwoods L.C. and founder of the K18 “crank-shaft” Kyler Harrison. We saw a couple of fights out of the boys, which are always appreciated by the fans and amazing to see in the creators game. The game was a battle between the goalies, #12 Jack Concannon of the Atlas L.C. had 20 saves in a losing effort while rookie goalie #0 Timmy Troutner out of High Point University finished with 17 saves in his professional lacrosse debut.
The only game of the weekend that didn’t go into OT could have also been the chippiest and most competitive game of the weekend. The Redwoods L.C. won by a score of 11-9 but watch these two fights that occurred last weekend on the field:
Player Focus of the Week: #18 Midfielder Kyle Harrison (Redwoods L.C.)
Quick shout out to Kyle Harrison, I don’t know how many of you know him, but he has been one of the most influential lacrosse athletes of our generation. He dominated the sport for some time as the face of lacrosse, a predominantly white sport as a black man which shattered lacrosse stereotypes and assisted in expanding the game of lacrosse to urban communities as well as out west. When I was growing up, he came out with this lacrosse shaft crank-shaft that had a slight bend at the end of the shaft closer to the top of the head, and it was supposed to make your shot velocity faster.
Now, I’m not John Brenkus, and this is for sure not Sports Science, but I can confidently state that the crankshaft helped 8-year old Kevin McDougal go up from a monstrous 40 MPH shot to a dangerously fast 45 MPH. For that, I will always love Kyle Harrison. I followed his career at Johns Hopkins where he broke opponents ankles every game with his infamous split dodge which became defenseless by defenders, and it brings me a lot of excitement that he is still doing his thing at 36 years old in the new Premier Lacrosse League.
Coaching Spotlight of the Week: Jim Stagnitta (Whipsnakes L.C.)
I want to pay recognition to Whipsnake L.C. head coach Jim Stagnitta who is one of the best lacrosse coaches in the game. He has been coaching lacrosse for over 30 years, serving as a collegiate coach at Division I and Division III level as well as professionally in Major League Lacrosse for the Denver Outlaws and Charlotte Hounds. He’s a 2X MLL Coach of the Year, a winner for Division I Coach of the Year and has made the NCAA Tournament 10X as player and coach while making the Final Four 3X. The Premier Lacrosse League is EXTREMELY fortunate to have Jim Stagnitta as a head coach in their league, he was one of the best in the MLL, and the PLL proved that not only can they get the best players in the world to join their league, but the best coaches as well.
Game #1: Chrome L.C. vs. Whipsnakes L.C.
Date and Time: Saturday June 8, 2019 @ 1PM EST.
Where to Watch: NBC Sports Gold (FREE) or Red Bull Arena (NJ/NY)
Before getting to the game, Game #1 will be played on NBC Sports Gold for FREE. YES, FOR FREE. If you don’t like free, then you are not for me. I’m always in for a great deal and hope some of you guys take advantage of this incredibly generous offer. Besides this weekend, NBC Sports Gold costs $38 for 39 (!!) lacrosse games, a deal that you only see at Costco.
Chrome vs. Whipsnakes is a fantastic matchup between old ACC foes; we will get to see former Duke Blue Devils, Justin Guterding and Jordan Wolf go up against the Whipsnakes L.C. starting defense which is comprised of entirely of former Maryland Terrapins. If you remember, Maryland left the ACC in 2012 for the Big 12, so these are matchup’s that we missed out on seeing multiple times a year. I anticipate Whipsnakes defender #33 Matt Dunn to cover Chrome L.C. #32 Jordan Wolf, he’s excellent against quick players, but uses his frame of 6’3 225 pounds to bully smaller attackman, he was the 2018 Professional Lacrosse Defensemen of the Year. But, Wolf is the best one on one player in the league he favors his dominant hand (right), last week Archers L.C. defensemen #11 Matt McMahon forced Wolf to his left hand which caused problems for Wolf. Granted, Wolf finished with 4 points on 4 helpers which is why he’s so great, even when he doesn’t have a goal, his impact on the field is undeniable. Look for the Whipsnakes to possibly put another lefty defender on Wolf such as Bryce Young, to give Wolf another look against a lefty pole.
Personally, I would like to see Whipsnakes L.C. defensemen #36 Timmy Muller guard Chrome L.C. attackman #14 Justin Guterding. It would make for an incredibly unique situation for the two kids from Garden City, NY, on Long Island. The two grew up playing together on club teams, youth leagues, and on other sports teams. Muller opted to attend Chaminade High School and assert his dominance for the traditional national powerhouse, winning a State Title his senior year against their rivals, St. Anthonys. On the other hand, Guterding decided to leave a lasting legacy at Garden City High School, winning a State and National Championship in 2012 as the #1 ranked team in the country. In 2013, he was the main guy leading his team to another national title to repeat as state champs.
Additionally, they know each other exceptionally well and are both respectfully one of the best at their positions in the league. Muller was the 2017 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player while Justin Guterding made a splash last year as one of the top rookies in professional lacrosse. He was a Tewaarton Award Finalist at Duke and is a matchup nightmare for other defenders. He can beat you with his off-ball movement and lethal shot or hit you with his quickness and speed to the cage.
Look at Gutty’s impressive highlight plays last week:
Guterding can beat you so many ways he’s almost like a swiss army knife. He’s your classic 5-tool player, which should cause problems for the Whipsnakes defense, but I still like the Whipsnakes defense in this clash of offensive prowess and defensive power.
On the faceoff, Chrome L.C. has an absolute beast in rookie #25 Connor Farrell out of Long Island University Post (LIU Post). He’s your classic football/lacrosse kid out of Long Island, gritty, tough, blue-collared and a fierce competitor that doesn’t care for anybody’s feelings; he’s made it clear he’s not here to make friends. He also has said that he and his brother drink 7 gallons of milk a week.
You gotta check out his interview from training camp right here:
I guess when you drink 7 gallons of milk a week, and you play middle linebacker on your school’s football team, your going to make out for one powerful beast:
He’s not just a big personality who knows how to hit; he won 11/17 (64.7%) faceoffs in his professional lacrosse debut, he’s raw and has an incredible upside to be one of the best faceoff specialists in the league. Not to mention, the Chrome L.C. also have #17 Drew Simoneau, the Professional Lacrosse All-Star and 2015 Division III Faceoff Specialist of the Year out of Nazareth University. Simoneau went a clean 7/11 (63.6%) on faceoffs.
Not too shabby for the two FOGO’s on Chrome L.C.
For the Whipsnakes, they have #91 Joe Nardella who dominated the faceoff x against Chaos L.C. in week one going an incredible 20/30 (66.6%) on his face-off attempts. That gave him the best faceoff win percentage at the end of week one; he faces an incredibly difficult task this week as he faces not one, but two incredibly talented faceoff specialists in Connor Farrell and Drew Simoneau. If Nardella easily handles one of the two, look for Chrome L.C. to give him another look using the other faceoff man. Nardella is an animal; I just can’t see him getting the best of both of these guys consistently if he does then the Whipsnakes should suffice to win the game.
Prediction: Whipsnakes L.C. -13 Chrome L.C. -10
I think Nardella will do enough to get possession for the Whipsnakes L.C. while their fantastic defensive unit will be able to contain the Chrome offense consisting of Ty Thompson, Jordan Wolf, and Justin Guterding. The Whipsnakes offense didn’t look to have any trouble last week, but last week they took the gas off the pedal at halftime and seemed a bit slap-happy coming out of the locker room. It almost came back to haunt them in the second half as the Chaos L.C. refused to quit and climbed their way back to outscore the Whipsnakes 9-4 in the second half. If they take the gas off the pedal in this one, Guterding and co. will make them pay for it.
Game #2: Redwoods L.C. vs. Archers L.C.
Date and Time: Saturday June 8, 2019 4PM EST.
Where to Watch: NBC Sports/NBC Sports Gold (FREE) OR Red Bull Arena (NY/NJ)
This matchup is my Nosebleed Lax Game of the Week. It’s a marquee matchup between the Archers L.C. dominant offense against the Redwoods L.C. strong defense. Like I said in my week one recap blog, a bunch of players in the league that I talked to (brag? brag, brag) believed that the Archers L.C. would win the first ever Premier Lacrosse League Championship, but I disagree. I’m in love with this Redwoods L.C, the way they handled their victory against Atlas L.C. who I think has the most talented roster in the league, was extremely impressive. The fact that the Redwoods entire defense graduated from Notre Dame would scare me if I were on the opposing attack. Notre Dame infamously has one of the best defenses in the country under defensive coordinator Gerry Byrne. One of Byrnes’ best defensive units was in 2015 which had Matt Landis, Garrett Epple, Eddy Glazener, and LSM John Sexton. All of them play on the Redwoods.
They weren’t the only graduates from Notre Dame on the Redwoods; they also have Matt Kavanagh, Ryder Garnsey, Sergio Perkovic, and Jack Near. All of them besides Garnsey played in the 2015 National Championship Game against Denver University, which I’d say makes up a pretty solid core for a squad that’s poised to make another championship.
This time at the professional level.
Gerry Byrne was watching the Redwoods game last week and could hear the boys using the same terminology that was used at Notre Dame. That is SCARY for opponents.
Fortunately for the Archers, Matt Landis is out for the Redwoods because last week he was hit in the bean bag. When he was out for a short time during the Atlas game, LSM John Sexton was sent down low to take Landis’ spot. Expect to see Sexton play down low quite often on Saturday; he’s incredible as a 1v1 defender and a ground ball machine when the ball hits the turf.
The Archers L.C. have an extremely talented offense with midfielder #26 Tom Schreiber, #1 Marcus Holman (A), #4 Will Manny (A), and #90 Ben McIntosh (M). The Archers attack put up 11 points while Schreiber (4pts) and McIntosh (3pts) did their part to earn the victory in their week one victory over Chrome. If there’s a week that the Archers take advantage of the Redwoods defense, its this week with Matt Landis, one of the best defenders in the game out with a groin injury.
On the faceoff, Archers L.C. #10 Stephen Kelly scored the first ever goal in the Premier Lacrosse League history which you can see right here:
The goal proved to be the only thing that went right that day as Kelly went a whopping 10/26 (38.4%) on faceoffs. His counterpart this week is one of the best the creator’s game has ever seen in Redwoods FOGO #32 Greg Gurenlian who went 11/21 (52.3%) on faceoffs against one of the best in the game in Atlas’ (Atlai if you listened to Pardon My Take) #9 Trevor Baptiste. I like the big panda Greg G to win this battle to give the Redwoods an advantage in possessions.
Ghitelman, the goalie for the Archers played awesome last week but the guy on the other end this week, Timmy Troutner was the Player of the Week to me. Listen, I’m in love with Troutner; I couldn’t believe he was only a rookie with the confidence he played with on Sunday. Troutner finished his first professional game with 17 saves, and I fully expect him to play on his head again, but this time it’s against an offense that’s, simply, better than the Atlas’ offense. It will be interesting to see how he plays this week after playing the game of his life last week.
Prediction: Redwoods L.C. -12 Archers -11 (OT)
I see the Redwoods winning this one as I think they have an advantage with possession at the faceoff x. I believe the Redwoods also have an advantage with Goalies, from what I’ve seen of Troutner there’s no reason to think he won’t be the best goalie every week. He went to freaking High Point, no knock on High Point, but before Troutner’s career, no one, for the most part, heard about High Point as a lacrosse school. Timmy played a considerable role in High Point beating two bluebloods this year in Virginia and Duke. Landis’ absence will be notable for the Redwoods, but I expect Sexton to float down to defense fluidly, especially since he’s played with Epple and Glazener at Notre Dame. The Archers are going to need to introduce Troutner to the big leagues if they want a chance in this one, they’ll have to shoot early and often to try and rattle the rookie goalie. If Troutner plays like I expect him to, I see this one going to OT, where closers like Redwoods L.C.#5 Matt Kavanagh thrive.
Sundays preview will be out tomorrow (Saturday).
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