10-Man Ride: Ament’s debut and Costabile’s two-way breakout
CLEAR! The ride is on. A lightning delay left us with one game, but there’s a silver lining: We now have lacrosse every night this week. Let’s recap the Archers’ 11-10 win over Atlas before previewing Archers-Waterdogs (7:00PM on NBCSN) and Chrome-Redwoods (9:30PM on NBCSN).
1. Scott Ratliff doing his best Tom Schreiber impression
The Archers have the best four-on-four substitution offense in the league. Part of that is the way they run their box; another big part is Scott Ratliff’s (1A) playmaking ability. Ratliff’s rope unit might not run with him like Brent Adams and Josh Hawkins did earlier in his career, but he makes the most of his offensive opportunities nowadays.
As Ryan Boyle mentioned on the broadcast, the Archers mix up when Tom Schreiber (2G, 1A) steps onto the field. Some teams save their top midfielder for last, hoping to avoid the long-stick matchup. When Schreiber steps on first, he is shot out of a cannon.
Sometimes Stephen Kelly’s hustle to the box gives Schreiber an extra step. On this play it gives him 10 yards. Atlas is looking to substitute Jake Richard for Trevor Baptiste through the midfield line – but Schreiber is down at the end of the box! Ratliff sends a Schreiberian pass from his hip and hits his teammate in stride. Beautiful stuff.
2. Crease Collapse of the Day
Defensive coordinator Tony Resch’s unit regularly stops opponents out of timeouts because they know exactly what is coming. Remember last year when he predicted a mumbo for Matt Rambo? He prepares his team for these fourth quarter moments – and (importantly!) this group is hungry to be coached.
Matt McMahon goes from on-ball at X to two slide in a hurry. Atlas was looking for a dummy dodge to set up a Bryan Costabile (more on him in a minute) sweep. No dice. Ratliff slides to stop the ball and force a rollback. Curtis Corley splits two – then extends to Chris Cloutier on the perimeter because he knows McMahon has his back. And Eli Gobrecht crashes in for good measure. Solid team defense.
3. Ryan Ambler’s re-razor pick
Grant Ament (3G, 1A) wasted no time making highlights in his PLL debut. His shake at X is going viral, but this goal was my favorite.
Out of a timeout, the Archers set up a razor pick (!) for Ament. Ryan Ambler (1A) brought a short-stick behind. Atlas did not want to help from the short-stick, and did not want to slide from above goal-line extended. Tough ask for Cade van Raaphorst on-ball.
Ambler’s craftiness capitalized on that “no help” defense. Watch him set up, bail for a seal, then re-pick. Van Raaphorst thinks Ambler is moving out of his path, then at the last second, BANG!
The Archers ran this right back to start the second half (but Jack Concannon bailed out his defense). Bank on seeing a bunch of these from them throughout the tournament.
4. Archers’ offseason additions
Ament impacted the game as a dodger, cutter, and feeder. Christian Mazzone (2G) made SportsCenter with a tipslam off an Ian MacKay Kobe assist. Eli Gobrecht held Rob Pannell to 1-for-10 shooting (including an 0-for-9 start). And Josh Currier (2G) buried a behind-the-back goal off a nice feed from Ambler.
The Archers added key pieces in the college draft (duh), the entry draft, and via waivers. This roster rolls deep at every position.
5. Bryan Costabile: Two-way certified
There are “two-way” midfielders and there are two-way midfielders, and Bryan Costabile (4G, 1T) is a two-way midfielder. He’s hammering shots from 2-point range and on the run. He’s not afraid from anyone based on both his in-game interview demanding more respect plus his on-ball defense against the best midfielder in the world. Costabile stood up Schreiber. Never mind a chunk like this, do you know how many long-sticks fail to get a stick on Schreiber?
6. Where was the Atlai’s interior offense?
Eric Law attempted one shot. Ryan Brown attempted (and buried) one shot on the powerplay. That’s not a formula for success.
Chris Cloutier is splitting time with Brown. Both have been solid. Can they coexist?
Running one out of the box is tricky, especially with so many mouths to feed already at midfield. But both bring unique skill sets to the offense. Brown’s ambidexterity makes him a nightmare in mirror spots (as Deemer Class and Jules Heningburg broke down on their new podcast). This team is loaded with dodging midfielders who want a two-way go. Mirroring Brown off those initial dodges allows them to go either way and throw back to a player who can shoot from range with either hand.
7. Romar Dennis, setting his feet
Some silver lining for the Atlai’s six-on-six offense: Romar Dennis is shooting with his feet set. On Sunday against the Waterdogs, he caught, dodged down his angle, and let it fly. On Monday night, he didn’t hesitate. He put more shots on goal (and more in the net). I am here for stepdown Romar.
8. Will Waterdogs be slow to slide to Grant Ament?
Bet on BJ Grill guarding Ament tonight when the Waterdogs and Archers face off at 7:00PM on NBCSN. When the dust settles (because, as mentioned, you can’t contain Ament and the Archers in four-on-four, five-on-five, or other unsettled scenarios), the Waterdogs might trust Grill on an island.
Ament is aware that he’ll need to earn his slides at the next level. There’s no defense in this league that wants to leave Will Manny, Marcus Holman, and company open above goal-line extended. The Waterdogs showed often when Grill guarded Pannell. Will Brodie Merrill try to spook the rookie into coughing up the ball? Will they faceguard cutters in front of the cage? Or will they send doubles to prevent another Ament shake-and-score IG highlight?
9. Jake Withers, winning when he loses
Jake Withers won zero clamps on Sunday, but he was the first player in PLL history to hold Trevor Baptiste under 50% at the stripe. How is that possible? Oh, right. Because of the PLL’s faceoff rules. There have been tie-ups at the stripe during the Championship Series. Wing play matters more than ever. (Important note: The Waterdogs’ leader in wing groundballs, Zach Currier, is out tonight.)
Get ready for a tag team wrestling match between the Waterdogs’ Withers and Drew Simoneau and the Archers’ Stephen Kelly and Brendan Fowler.
10. Matt Gaudet vs. Redwoods D
Matt Gaudet said some mean things against the Chaos. He’s playing the Redwoods tonight at 9:30PM on NBCSN – and he might say some more mean things!
The Crease Dive interviewed Gaudet on the art of the chirp. If Eddy Glazener guards Gaudet (a safe bet), then this will be the mic’d up matchup of the tournament.
Thanks for reading!
Spread the word, submit any questions you want to see answered in this space to me on Twitter (@joekeegs), and I’ll talk to you tomorrow!