In a back and forth game in which neither team led by more than two goals, Chaos came away with an 11-10 overtime victory over Archers in the opening game of Week 9.
With the win, Chaos clinched a Top 2 seed while Archers fall to 4-5 and will have to wait until the final week of the season to punch their ticket to the dance.
What amounted to a low scoring game by Chaos’s lofty standards started slow for both teams. It took more than five minutes for Chaos to break the seal with a transition goal from Mark Glicini and the two teams would combine for just five first-quarter goals as goalies from each team were seeing the ball well early.
In this same matchup in Week 4, Blaze Riorden amassed 21 saves due to excellent play and poor shot selection from the Archers offense. This game started no differently, as Riorden made 11 saves in the first half, most of them clean. Archers shooters were unable to penetrate Chaos’s defense and were forced to settle for outside or low-angle shots.
Heading into the second quarter, Chaos held a 3-2 lead after Dhane Smith scored on an assist from Connor Fields and Josh Byrne scored in transition. Will Manny opened up the second quarter with a hustle play to intercept a pass on the ride and score his second of the day. After Jake Froccaro scored in transition to take the lead back for Chaos, Fields and Byrne connected for a goal worthy of a spot on tonight’s SportsCenter Top Ten Plays.
Chaos held a two-goal lead with under a minute to go in the half when Archers’ top playmaker Tom Schreiber connected with Ben McIntosh to cut the lead in half.
Schreiber and McIntosh would start the second half like they ended the first, evening the score up at six as their two-man game gave the Chaos defense fits. Schreiber, equally as dangerous as a feeder as he is a dodger, drew a lot of attention from the defense as McIntosh slipped to the goal.
Down the stretch, the two teams would rely on what they do best, as Chaos score three of their final four goals in regulation in transition and Archers score three of their final four goals in settled half-field offense.
The game came down to the wire as Head Coach Chris Bates called a timeout with just under two to play. Coach Bates put the ball in his best players’ hands and Schreiber tied the game by isolating Glicini after getting a pick from McIntosh. While McIntosh moved off ball, Troy Reh was tasked with covering McIntosh and sliding to Schreiber. Reh was a step late and Schreiber tied the game to send it into overtime.
Archers started the overtime period on the power play and McIntosh stepped into a shot from the right wing. As he wound up, Glicini turned his back, spread his limbs and soaked McIntosh’s shot right in the middle of his back. Later in the overtime period, Chaos was on the power play themselves after a late hit by Dominique Alexander. Sitting in a 3-3 set, Smith was fed on the crease and rattled one off the pipe. As the ball swung around again, the Archers’ penalty kill unit stayed on Smith a beat too long as Deemer Class fed Byrne on the left wing for the game-winning goal.
It wouldn’t surprise anyone if these two teams were to meet in the playoffs. Whether that’s in the semifinal if Chaos lose their opening round game or in the Championship game if Archers go on a run, these two teams have what it takes to win it all. For Archers, their continued production from their role players will decide how far this team goes. For Chaos, they have shown that they are a complete team and the favorites to win the Crown. But in this league, on any given weekend, any team can win and that’s what will make the race to the Crown so special.
Chaos will face the Atlas in Albany Saturday, August 24 at 8pm ET on NBC Sports Gold while the Archers take on the Whipsnakes Sunday, August 25 at 1:30pm ET on NBC Sports Gold.