1. A throwback throwback
The Chaos went into the locker room with momentum, but the Redwoods snatched it back and took over the game in the third quarter. During that run Kyle Harrison drove down the lefty alley, drew Joe Walters’ defender, rolled back, and threw it eight yards and 10 years behind him to Walters.
That “reverse pull pass” by Harrison is a modern twist on the “throwback” pass that he popularized at Hopkins. Harrison taught an entire generation how to split dodge and throw it back to your teammate. Hat tip to Coach Pugh on finding this video of Harrison and Walters from 2009.
2. Beast on two feet
Paul Rabil pointed out on the broadcast that Greg Gurenlian (11-for-20, 55.0%) was facing off on two feet. He was exiting the X in a hurry, sparking transition for the Redwoods – most notably, a John Sexton two-bomb.
Creating transition off the faceoff was huge for the ‘Woods. They outran the Chaos all night. Sexton buried a two. Garrett Epple assisted Ryder Garnsey. Brent Adams and Sergio Perkovic both pushed in semi-transition for goals. The Chaos’ only fast break goal was off a failed clear. Games are won between the arcs in this league, and Gurenlian gave his team an advantage in that area.
3. Landis vs. Fields, Round 1
Matt Landis missed the first two meetings with the Chaos. In his first matchup with Connor Fields, Landis played lockdown defense, holding the MVP candidate to 0-for-3 shooting and three turnovers.
The Redwoods – who typically slide early – were slower to slide to this matchup. They left Fields on Landis Island. That has become a popular strategy around the league against the Chaos: Force Fields to beat you as a scorer. Even if he gets his – and he usually does – you still prevent the Chaos’ ball movement from creating shots for their lethal finishers.
4. Garrett Epple being everywhere at once
Epple is always in the right place at the right time. It’s a product of film study and instinct. He sees plays develop before they happen. When he slides, he manages to clog the passing lane between the ball carrier and the man he’s leaving behind.
He has a sixth sense for seeing passing lanes.Sometimes it looks like he’s improvising and ball-hawking. Is he Matt Landis’ two slide here? As Landis doubles Fields, Epple sinks into the paint directly between Fields and Landis’ man.
If that’s a gamble, then it’s a great one. If that’s a development that Epple saw on film and recognized in real time, then it’s genius. I’m not sure what would be more impressive.
5. Reminder: MJ is an elite passing midfielder
Myles Jones should have had more than one assist. He was the Chaos’ best six-on-six initiator. Against short-stick matchups, he drew double teams on every dodge. Jones is so physical that he’ll take on those double teams for longer than most, or he’ll step back to scan the field. He pump fakes, waits for Kevin Buchanan to cut through the lane, and Schreibers this pass across the field to Miles Thompson.
Jones on a short-stick is a great starting point for any offense. He dodges with his head up. After relying heavily on their 1-4-1 set in their last game against the Woods, the Chaos went back to their 2-2-2 here. This pass has to lead to a shot – whether it’s by Jake Froccaro or it’s after Froccaro makes one more pass to Thompson following the two slide.
Plays like that never turned into quality shots. Even the passes that did connect – like Jones’ skip down to Buchanan on a powerplay – led to low-angle, wrong-sided shots. The Chaos only took 33 shots total (five fewer than their per game average).
6. Jules Heningburg follows Rule #1
Heningburg has played so many roles for this Redwoods offense. You don’t score 39 points by being one-dimensional. He can dodge to feed or dodge to shoot. He can finish from either side of the cage. He’s also a loyal Diggstape follower who knows Rule #1: Whenever you’re given the chance to do the goalie dirty, you do the goalie as dirty as possible.
On a second quarter powerplay, Heningburg dug this skip pass out of the turf and Rule #1-ed the hell out of Blaze Riorden.
(Sidenote: Blaze Riorden never gets Rule #1-ed. He’s been the best goalie in the league all year – bailing out a Chaos team that plays dangerously fast and leaves itself vulnerable to transition. Riorden made 16 saves to keep the Chaos in this game for as long as possible.)
7. Stephen Kelly: 15-for-18, 83.3%
Last week I highlighted the top 10 NCAA prospects in the 2020 draft class. Yale faceoff athlete TD Ierlan is both the best overall player available and a seemingly perfect fit for an Archers club that struggled at the faceoff X in the regular season. I suggested that the Archers should take him if they win the pick.
Well, now there’s a problem – a good problem – for head coach Chris Bates and his staff. Stephen Kelly won 83.3% of faceoffs, buried a goal, and dished out an assist.
The faceoff position is (often unfairly) reduced to numbers. Stats can be misleading. Kelly and Brendan Fowler have given the Archers a chance in every game, regardless of the numbers. Maybe this team isn’t looking for a faceoff athlete. If they’re comfortable with Kelly and Fowler, then they could be in position to add Grant Ament, Michael Sowers or Mac O’Keefe. Either way, this postseason format has given the three-seed Archers an opportunity to upgrade their roster heading into 2020.
8. Ryan Ambler dodging with a purpose
In two postseason games, Ryan Ambler has scored five goals on 50.0% shooting and dished an assist. He’s dodging with a purpose. Coach Bates’ offense is familiar to Ambler, a Princeton product, who has been a big reason why Marcus Holman and Will Manny have maintained a healthy diet of shots without Tom Schreiber.
9. Will Manny’s touch pass
Whether he’s shooting or passing, the ball is rarely in Will Manny’s stick for more than a cradle. He is allergic to cradling. Team offense is contagious. Manny’s unselfishness unlocks sequences like this. Teammates will cough up the ball because they know they are bound to get it back eventually. Christian Cuccinello draws a double team at the island to start the party. Cuccinello moves it to Austin Sims, who feeds Manny, who releases the ball before the camera can catch up.
Alex Ready slammed the door on Davey Emala, but that’s the shot you look for. No – that’s the shot you dream about. Great offenses might get one or two of those per game. The Archers seem to create one or two per quarter.
10. Coach Resch’s adjustments strike again
Every week, the Archers’ defense improves as the game goes on. This week, they held the Chrome to 4-for-22 (18.2%) shooting and zero assists after the first quarter. No assists. For 36 minutes. That’s unfathomable – without fathom!
The Chrome won’t get the top pick in the draft, but they could still land an offensive stud. Justin Guterding’s ability to play behind the cage gives the Chrome some flexibility on offense. They could draft a left-handed attackman and kick Jordan Wolf up to the righty wing. This draft is loaded with lefties. Mac O’Keefe (Penn State) and Ethan Walker (Denver) are great finishers. Jeff Teat (Cornell), Charlie Bertrand (Merrimack), Michael Kraus (Virginia) are more ball-dominant. It might make sense for the Chrome to draft two players from that bunch and run one out of the box.