Atlas Finds Much-Needed Momentum Against Chrome in Playoff Push
Atlas’ playoff push starts now.
Well, technically, it started Saturday, when Atlas, who was tied with Chrome in the gutter of the league at 1-4 coming out of All-Star Weekend, ousted Chrome 11-9 to improve to 2-4 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
Heading into the matchup, Atlas had a 75 percent chance to make the playoffs and Chrome had a 40 percent chance. With the Atlas win, the team’s likelihood to make the playoffs increases to 94 percent and Chrome’s decreases to 17 percent. Seven of the eight teams make the playoffs, and now, it’s Chrome who is in a dire catch-up situation as opposed to Atlas.
“I don’t even know how to put [the win] into words,” Atlas captain Trevor Baptiste said. “It was a really important game. Obviously, that was a must-win game and it’s all about us taking that step forward. This was one step and we have to keep it going.”
If Atlas would have lost to Chrome and dropped to 1-5, the Bulls’ playoff odds would’ve dropped to 52 percent and Chrome’s would’ve increased to 65 percent. Instead, Atlas remains unbeaten by Chrome in regular season and postseason history.
“A ‘must-win’ for me is an elimination game, that’s a must-win. This wasn’t one of those, but it was as close as it could possibly be,” Atlas coach Mike Pressler said. “We all knew that. It was a playoff game. It was the first game of the second half of the season. Everybody talks about, not the first five games, but the last five.”
Despite the win, Atlas wasn’t perfect against Chrome. The Bulls’ stick skills as a whole didn’t look their sharpest and they were undisciplined with 23 turnovers, nearly a handful of which came from offsides calls after won faceoffs.
After a turnover with the clock running out, Eric Law was flagged for being within five yards of the Chrome in-bounder. The PLL rule book states that if a flag is thrown on the leading team and the whistle is blown with 10 seconds or less left in the game, 10 seconds will be added to the game clock. So Chrome got the ball at midfield with 10 seconds left down two goals.
Like Atlas’ game against the Waterdogs in Week 3, the defense let shooters get their hands free above the 2-point arc in a critical situation. Chrome midfielder Sam Handley got a good look, but goalie Jack Concannon made the save for the Atlas victory. It was a big moment for Concannon, especially since long-range shots aren’t his strength and he lost the starting spot to Drake Porter in Week 5.
Concannon had 11 saves on the day, posting a 57.9 save percentage.
“Jack’s a five year veteran. He won the job back and today, he kept the job,” Pressler said. “That save at the end was amazing. The only guy we couldn’t allow to shoot it was No. 26 and he shot it, but Jack made the save.”
Atlas looks to keep the momentum rolling against the Archers at 3 p.m. ET Saturday in Baltimore on ABC/ESPN+.
“Here we are 1-0 in the second half [of the season] with some momentum going into the Archers game, maybe the best team in the league right now,” Pressler said.