A desperate team is a dangerous one.
With their backs against the wall and facing the worst odds of making the playoffs, Atlas has now delivered dominating performances in consecutive weeks and are now the favorites to clinch one of the two final playoff spots.
The fans in Albany immediately showed their alliances as an uproar followed a Kevin Buchanan goal from Myles Jones when Chaos converted on their first offensive possession. After Josh Byrne hit the side of the net on an isolation from the left wing, Atlas defensive midfielder Jake Richard went coast-to-coast to bury his first goal of the season. The two teams continued to trade goals as both found success in transition and rebounds off of unclean saves.
Tied at three entering the second quarter, the Atlas half-field offense continued to struggle to dodge out of the midfield. Eric Law, Trevor Baptiste, and Noah Richard would all find success in unsettled situations, but both settled offenses were held scoreless in the second quarter. Jack Concannon and the Atlas defense kept them in the game, holding Chaos scoreless in the second quarter outside of a two-pointer from UAlbany graduate Troy Reh.
Entering the third quarter up 6-5, Atlas Head Coach John Paul urged his team to be more patient on offense. Atlas’s defense dominated the third quarter and held Chaos scoreless until the final 11 seconds of the quarter while their offense started to find some rhythm as they went to their bread and butter: the invert.
All season, defenses have struggled to guard Atlas’s invert offense. With John Crawley behind the goal, whether alone or in a pair with an Atlas’ attackmen, defenses have yet to figure out a way to support on ball defenders while dealing with off ball switches and cutters. With less than three minutes to go in the third quarter, Law dodged Mark Glicini and found Ryan Brown open on the left wing. Just over a minute later, Crawley inverted and scored as the Chaos were reluctant to slide. Atlas started the fourth quarter with more of the same as McArdle came off a Crawley pick and found Brown cutting inside.
At the end of the third quarter, Dhane Smith assisted Miles Thompson to stop a four-goal run for Atlas. The Thompson goal would be Chaos’s second goal out of their 1-4-1 offense. Jones and Smith drew double teams on their wing dodges and found teammates open as the defense rotated.
For a team that averages over seven assists per game, Chaos were held to just three assisted goals and only two in their half field offense. While Connor Fields is the focal point of Chaos’s high-octane offense, their true potential is unlocked when players like Jones, Smith, and Josh Byrne are allowed to initiate on the wings out of their 1-4-1 offense.
In the fourth quarter, Atlas continued to find success in the two-man game. McArdle came off a Crawley screen and found Ryan Brown, who completed his hat trick and stretched the Atlas lead to five. Byrne and Connor Fields answered, combining for three unassisted goals, but Atlas’s lead would prove to be insurmountable. Concannon, who finished with 18 saves, sealed the victory with a flurry of saves as the Atlas defense held Chaos to a season-low nine goals.
Atlas, with a record of 5-5, now find themselves as the third seed entering Sunday’s games and are very likely to make the playoffs. A Redwoods victory by seven or more goals, followed by an Archer victory, would be the only way Atlas gets knocked out of the playoffs. For Chaos, they will look to put this game behind them as they look forward to Columbus in their first-round game versus Whipsnakes.