Everybody Eats for Bulls in victory over Chrome
By Austin Owens | Jul 31, 2021
After the first game of the campaign, many had written off Atlas, who were still working after an off-season re-tool and training camp with a relatively new squad.
Since then, they’ve silenced a lot of doubters, and on Friday, they became the first team in the PLL to clinch a playoff spot with a 19-10 victory over Chrome in Colorado Springs.
“It’s not easy playing in this league, it’s not easy to get better, and it’s not easy being honest with each other. But I think when people genuinely like spending time with each other, I think you can begin to take steps,” Atlas head coach Ben Rubeor said post-game. “It’s great that we clinched a playoff spot. It’s one step in our journey, but we have to continue to get better.”
Everybody ate for Atlas, as nine different individuals scored for them on the night. Bryan Costabile (2G, 1T, 2A) was the party starter for the team, while rookies Jeff Teat (1G, 3A) and Jake Carraway (3G, 1A) also had big performances.
The Bulls came out of the gate hot, with a goal from rookie Dox Aitken -- his first pro goal -- and a 2-pointer from Costabile. Morrill and MacIntosh answered back for Chrome, but markers from Baptiste and Teat gave Atlas a 5-2 lead after the first.
The game was dictated by runs from Ben Rubeor’s squad, as they’d score six of the nine goals in the second frame to take an 11-5 lead into the half.
Molloy scored his first PLL goal to open the second for Chrome, while Morrill and MacIntosh added their second goals of the game, respectively.
In the second half, the Bulls began to pull away, as Carraway began to take over offensively. He potted a pair of goals 12 seconds apart before adding a third to complete the hat trick later in the game.
At one point in the third, Atlas held a 14-6 advantage, giving them some added help in the score differential category -- a big part of final seeding in the playoffs.
But the night belonged to Baptiste. He added his second goal of the contest in the fourth to complete one of the most dominant performances in PLL history. He finished with a league record 25 faceoff wins and 19 ground balls to go along with his two-goal performance.
It was a homecoming of sorts for Baptiste, who was able to come back to Colorado, where he spent his collegiate career with the University of Denver, and where he has been living for the last few months.
“It feels great. I had a ton of friends out here. It was probably like 40 people who came and my mom flew out from New Jersey, so I have a great support group,” Baptiste said. “Also wanted to shout out Denver City Lax, they hopped on a bus and drove all the way out here. It’s a program where I’m a member of the board. (Eric Law) is an executive director, so it obviously hits close to us. But seeing them in the stands, cheering and being jacked up to watch lacrosse was pretty sweet.”
The Bulls’ eight-goal second half was the difference, as they were able to add some extra markers late to end any hope Chrome had of a comeback.
With the first half of their doubleheader in the books, Atlas now tentatively holds the first seed in the league with four games left this weekend across the league. If they’re able to pull out the win in their Sunday matchup with the Cannons, they would be in a prime position to lock down the first seed heading into the final week of the regular season in Albany.
The outlook isn’t as positive for Chrome, as they fall to last in the league due to the aforementioned score differential. They sit six points behind the Cannons and each squad now has two games apiece to make a run at the postseason.
Sunday’s matchup with Chaos could be a do-or-die scenario for each team at this point of the season.