GAME RECAP: Chrome defeats the Whipsnakes in San Jose

Chrome vs. Whipsnakes Week 8 San Jose Recap

Early in the second meeting between the Whipsnakes and the Chrome, you’d be hard pressed to tell which team was tied for first place and which had won only one game entering this weekend.

John Ranagan got the Chrome off to a fast start at Avaya Stadium in San Jose. He split his man and launched a right-handed shot past Kyle Bernlohr less than 40 seconds into the game. Ned Crotty scored twice within 30 seconds, then Matt Danowski stung the upper corner on a fast break from the left wing to put the Chrome up 4-0.

The Whipsnakes neutralized the early advantage thanks to goals from Joe Nardella, Mike Chanenchuk, and a two-pointer from Michael Ehrhardt.

 “Mike does everything for us,” Whipsnakes Head Coach, Jim Stagnitta, told NBC sideline reporter, Paul Burmeister, before the game.

The Chrome made another run 7-0, though, and looked unstoppable. Amongst the barrage, Justin Guterding had a hat-trick in two minutes and 29 seconds. Their 10 goals in the first quarter surpassed the total (7) of their last contest against the Archers. It was the highest scoring first quarter in PLL history.

“If the game ended now (11-4),” PLL writer and stats analyst, Joe Keegan tweeted. “@PLLChrome would lead PLL in score differential with the league’s worst record.”

Drew Snider finally stopped the bleeding with 9:19 to play in the second quarter. The Whipsnakes went on yet another run and whittled the lead to three before Crotty stuck a two-pointer and gave the Chrome a 14-9 advantage at halftime.

The most noticeable development at the start of the second half was seeing Whipsnakes attackman Matt Rambo in an unfamiliar place—on the sideline. Rambo leads the league in points, but was blanked by the Chrome in the first half. He only returned during a power play in the third quarter. Connor Kelly, starting his first game of the season at attack, picked up where he left off in the first half. Although he had seven points entering the weekend, he showed why he was a Tewaaraton award finalist at the University of Maryland in 2018 and finished with three goals and three assists. He was the only attackman on the Whipsnakes who registered a single point.

“How did we get here?” NBC Sports play-by-play announcer Brendan Burke asked at the start of the fourth quarter. The Chrome lead 17-15. Crotty and Danowski took it from there and brought back visions of Duke Final Four appearances. They were determined not to squander a late lead like they have done so many times this summer. They scored all of the Chrome’s goals in the fourth. Danowski finished with a hat-trick. Crotty put on a dominant performance that included five goals and one assist. His final goal with 1:40 to play sealed the Chrome’s 20-16 win. They’re the first club to reach the 20-goal mark.

The result keeps the Chrome’s playoff hopes alive and demonstrated how there are no easy matchups in the Premier Lacrosse League. The Chrome’s two wins this season are against the top two teams in the standings. Their average margin of victory in those contests? Six goals. They now have the best scoring differential (+4) in the league, but also the worst record (2-6). Explain that.

For the Whipsnakes (5-3), the loss will leave them scrabbling to find answers this week. It’s their third loss in four games and second in a row. Are the Whipsnakes the team who gutted out several overtime wins early in the season or the one who has struggled to find a rhythm in the second half? Can you keep an MVP candidate on the bench? We’ll find out soon enough.

The Chrome next face the Atlas in Hamilton, Ontario, on August 17 at 3:30pm ET. The Whipsnakes play the Redwoods at 6pm ET on August 18.

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