Coach Towers Reflects on 2021 Championship Season
By Josh Barrow | Oct 28, 2021
As I reflect back on our 2021 Chaos LC season, what comes to mind is how far we came as a group of players and coaches. Heading into training camp, we were optimistic that we had made the right personnel moves in the off-season to become ’12minutes better’, in hopes that those decisions would allow us to accomplish our only team goal, which was to win the 2021 PLL Championship in September.
However, training camp didn’t turn out the way that we had hoped it would. We had many of our Canadian players unavailable due to Visa issues and/or availability issues due to the Canadian COVID return to the country policy. We also had a slew of injuries to some key offensive players which further depleted our roster, making it hard for us to start the process of ‘getting connected’ as a team. It didn’t help that our 1st game of the season was against the 2-time defending World Champions, the Whipsnakes, who pounded us in Foxboro in game 1. In Atlanta, games 2 and 3 were not much better as we lost to the eventual the 2021 regular season champion, Waterdogs LC, and the offensively dynamic, Archers LC, in closer games but in each of those games we were still in disarray, particularly on the offensive end of the field.
Heading into our game 4 vs the Redwoods in Baltimore, we knew we were facing probably the best team in the league at that point. However, we were feeling more optimistic about our chances to win even though our opponent was very dangerous given that a few more of our offensive players had become available for that game. We got crushed at the face-off X, but we were able to limit our turnovers on the offensive end and rode another awesome defensive performance and won 11-9. This was a huge win for us as only the top 7 teams in the league make the playoffs and another loss here would’ve put us in a deep hole at 0-4. The win in Baltimore created a quiet but noticeable uptick in our team’s confidence heading into game 5 vs the Cannons on Long Island. We were able to add a few more players to our game day roster through the player’s pool and Visa approval and rallied from an 8-5 halftime deficit to win 14-10. This game made us start to feel more like the hunter rather than the hunted heading into game 6 in Minnesota.
Confidence was not an issue for us going into our game 6 vs the upcoming Atlas LC. We felt like we finally knew who we were in all areas of the game, but I failed our team that day as we didn’t alter our game plan enough and the Atlas made some great in game adjustments to beat us up to the tune of 16-10. Then we had few weeks off due to the PLL All-Star Game and a league wide bye week.
During this ‘down’ time, we had a few more players become available to us due to return from injuries and Visa approvals. So, we used Game 7 in Colorado Springs, to evaluate a different line-up vs the Chrome LC. We played perhaps our most complete game of the season winning 14-12, even though we didn’t necessarily ‘finish’ the game the way the we had hoped as the Chrome closed the game on a 4-goal run almost stealing it from us in the end.
This set-up games 8 and 9 in Albany vs the Archers and the Redwoods to close out the regular season. Fortunately, the Atlas beat the Cannons in Colorado, so we had locked up a playoff spot at that point. We also felt like we had 17 or our 19 game day rosters spots figured out so we were closer to knowing what our game day playoff roster would look like. We ended up beating the Archers in a come from behind victory on Friday night before losing to the Redwoods in game 9 on Sunday afternoon. Even though we went 1-1 on the final weekend, we played very well in all facets of the game, but we just didn’t finish our shots the way that we usually do. Credit goes to both of our opponent’s goalies in those games as they both played very well, but more importantly we felt like we finally ‘knew who we were’ on the offensive end from both a schematic and personnel perspective. Our identity on defensive end had been our 2021 team’s greatest and more consistent strength all summer, so to finally add an established identity on the offensive end to support our defense, we felt ready for the playoffs.
During our playoff run, we played better and better each game beating three teams that had beaten us in the regular season in the Archers, Atlas, and Whipsnakes. We peaked at the most important time and needed to in order to win it all.
This 2021 Chaos LC taught me that team culture and an authentically connected locker room trumps everything as it relates to putting your best ‘team’ on the field. Moreover, it’s ‘teams’ that win Championships, not great players. While we have many of the BEST players in the world in our locker room, we won because those same players made the decision to put the success of the team ahead of everything else yielding a COMPLETELY and authentically connected locker room. This characteristic is WHY we were able to finish the mission and ultimately win the Championship. LFG!!!!