10 Man Ride: Penalty kills > Powerplays

By Joe Keegan

PLL Analyst

Jun 29, 2021

CLEAR! The ride is on. Week 3 is in the books. Chrome (+305) snapped the Whipsnakes’ 672-day winning streak. Cannons lost another heartbreaker; they’re now 1-3 despite having the second-best score differential.

Let’s try to cover the whole field with 10 bullet points from Baltimore:

1. Archers two slides to Ryan Brown

Ryan Brown lit up Chaos and Chrome in Week 2, shooting 8-for-15 (53.3%) against two slower-to-go defenses. On Saturday night the Archers – who send doubles and support in a hurry – held Brown to 1-for-6 (16.7%) by sticking to their scheme.

Brown is almost always in a mirror role. If and when his defender helps, it’s the responsibility of a third defender to sprint to the perimeter then break down before getting hitched. Every Archers defender is ready for that role. This two slide from Dominique Alexander, fighting through a seal and some stick grabbing, is perfect.

Here’s one more by Matt McMahon. Notice the time on the shot clock; the Waterdogs are substituting off to prevent transition. The Archers have a free slide – McMahon – who kicks the shot away before it reaches Adam Ghitelman.

2. Adam Ghitelman: The highest scoring goalie of all-time

Adam Ghitelman posted the weirdest stat line of all-time: 9 saves, 1 assist, 1 two-point goal. He also passed Brett Queener (8 career points) as the highest scoring goalie in pro lacrosse history.

It’s tough to say whose hustle sets the tone for the Archers. Dive outs are in their DNA. But the ferocity with which Ghitelman attacks groundballs (and dodgers rounding the corner) is tone-setting, to say the least. After a series of big hits resulting in a ball down, Ghitelman sprinted out of his cage and past midfield – before finding Scott Ratliff, who buried his 100th and 101st career points on the same shot.

Entering the season, head coach Chris Bates planned on giving Ghitelman and Drew Adams each full games. Splitting halves in 2019 and 2020 was difficult for them and the rest of the defense. Through three weeks, Ghitelman has emerged as the starter and heartbeat of this Archers team.

3. Teat and Cockerton's two-man chemistry

Head coach Ben Rubeor’s decision to draft Jeff Teat over Michael Sowers was a deliberate move away from an offense centered around one quarterback toward a motion offense. Nobody has the keys to this offense. They attack from up top, from each wing, and from X – wherever the short-sticks are. Teat’s off-ball IQ fits that scheme perfectly. He cuts at the right times; he sets sneaky beesting screens to open up teammates.

“We had a family-style dinner last night,” said Rubeor after their win over the Cannons. “There’s enough food to go around for everybody, and I thought that’s the way the offense played.”

When the short-stick is on the lefty wing, Teat feasts. He has chemistry with Mark Cockerton from Team Canada. The Whipsnakes switched most of those actions, then dared Teat to beat a short-stick matchup. He found some seams, dishing six assist opportunities (i.e. a pass that leads to a shot) on Friday night.

Most defenses won’t switch those as cleanly. Any miscommunication against the pick-and-roll or on the weak side spells trouble. Every pass is available to Teat. How many goals will this throwback to Cockerton produce throughout the summer? One per game?

4. Mac O'Keefe's gravity above GLE

In Week 2, Mac O’Keefe was picking below GLE. It was not the best use of the NCAA’s all-time leading goal scorer, who has scored all of his career goals from above GLE.

He’s up on the wing now. O’Keefe and Josh Byrne showed flashes of pick-and-roll chemistry throughout camp. Both can sling it from range; these actions are a headache for opposing defensive coordinators.

O’Keefe’s range extends beyond the arc. He’s 2-for-8 (25.0%) from deep – a small sample size, but roughly as many points per shot as Eric Law on the doorstep. Defenses treat him accordingly. Isaiah Davis-Allen has no intentions of sinking inside the arc here, opening a cutting lane for Dhane Smith… and then another one for Ryan Smith.

5. Crease Collapse of the Week: Danny Logan

Danny Logan has been dominant at SSDM for the Atlas. I considered sending 10 GIFs of Logan burying dodgers for this newsletter. (Maybe in the offseason.) In a star-studded rookie class, he’s a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate right now.

This sequence is amazing. Logan turns John Haus at GLE, forcing the throwback – then immediately peels, finds Matt Rambo, and rushes Rambo into a diving backhand shot.

6. Crowdstrike Defender of the Week: Michael Rexrode

The Rutgers product held Lyle Thompson without a goal for only the second time in Lyle’s career – and the first since July 14, 2016.

Limiting Lyle was a full team effort. This Atlas defense, led by coordinator Ken Clausen, is flying around. Logan and Jake Richard are playing physical on-ball. Their poles are supporting – doubling every roll back and putting the ball on the turf. One coach categorized them as “opportunistic.”

This scramble after an automatic slide to Lyle saved the game. Paul Rabil catches at the point – and thinks he has Cade van Raaphorst cheating out of the middle toward the weak side. He jams the ball inside, but Tucker Durkin fills from X.

7. Touchdown, Galloway-to-Terefenko!

John Galloway is one of the best outlet passers of all-time. When he snags a high-to-high clean save, his eyes immediately go toward midfield. Are any attackmen open while the opponent subs? Does any defender have a step? Oh, there’s Ryan Terefenko.

Chrome's collective first step in transition was faster than the Whipsnakes' on Sunday. In both directions. It's rare to see any team beat the Whips to the hole.

Chrome won its first game of the year against an undefeated team without several stars. They’re not giving the cliché out-of-sight-out-of-mind treatment to Jordan Wolf, Randy Staats, Jesse King, and Jesse Bernhardt. They’re acknowledging them; and playing for them.

8. GWGlick

This is why we refer to blocks as Glicks. Because Mark Glicini will throw himself in front of any shot. He has blocked nearly one shot per game since we started tracking in 2020 – and they often seem to come at clutch moments. This two-point attempt by the Redwoods (who trailed by two) was the final shot of the game. It never saw the six-by-six.

9. Penalty kills > Powerplays

Defenses in PLL are allowed to play very, very physically. Not many flags are thrown. And this year, when they are thrown, powerplay units are not capitalizing.

Powerplay success is down from 39.8% in 2020 to 31.9% through three weeks. Part of that might be shooters with less range than Sergio Perkovic and Myles Jones trying to mimic what Perkovic and Jones did in 2020. Everyone thinks the powerplay is a great opportunity to hit a two. (It is… for some shooters.)

The length of Michael Ehrhardt and other penalty killers almost makes it too easy to cover more than one offensive threat.

Do we need stricter penalties (especially with low time in the fourth quarter)? Everything is one minute? Everything is locked in? Penalty shots?!

10. MJ, off the catch

Entering 2021, 22.9% of Myles Jones’ career shots had been assisted. He was always the guy. Then he played with Lyle – but the mechanics of catching from a righty and shooting righty are tricky. Myles needed a lefty feeder (or a feeder on the lefty side of the field) to reciprocate the feeds he has dished to Deemer Class, Brendan Mundorf, and Joe Walters over the years.

Jules Heningburg and Rob Pannell both spend a ton of time on that lefty side of the field.

Jules has his head up, looking for Myles. This skip is silly.

Two of Myles’ shots against Chaos were set up by Jules; plus a couple more set up by Pannell. He has never seen time and room like this.

The Redwoods offense had a noticeable lack of movement, lack of ball movement, and lack of Ryan Lee on Sunday. They didn’t score over the game’s final 17:59. As good as this unit looked in Week 1, there’s still work to do. If they can piece it all together to complement TD Ierlan (66 FO%) and this defense, then the Woods can make another deep September run.

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