How Chaos Came Up Short in a Game of Runs
This past weekend was a prime example of why lacrosse is coined, ‘a game of runs.’
A back-and-forth high scoring match up that featured eight ties, six lead changes, and the largest lead held by either team was two.
There’s many pieces to a lacrosse game, especially in a game of runs characterized by transition and endless attacking.
“It's a game of runs. Obviously give them credit, they played a little bit better than us tonight. I feel like they were hungrier for a win and we weren't playing desperate enough but, again, it's just those little bounces here and there,” said Dhane Smith after the game.
What’s important to find yourself on the right side of the win column in those games is making the next play. Finding moments in the chaos to settle down and string together multiple chances. Rather than making a mistake that leads to a chance that allows the other side to answer.
Chaos found themselves on the other side of the win column because of missed opportunities to put the Whipsnakes away. Combined with turnovers in transition when they took mediocre shots.
“Number one; you’ve got to give credit to the Whipsnakes. Number two; in hindsight there was a sequence in the third quarter where we got three straight stops and then turned the ball over in transition, probably in hindsight, good opportunities but not great ones,” said Andy Towers. “So, we need to be able to make the right decisions in real time and it starts with me as the coach. I got to do a better job of managing the game.”
Chaos are a team that boasts efficiency on the offensive end.
Five players in the top 10 of expected shooting percentages are on the Chaos. Including all of the top three.
Along with Towers, everyone on the team probably has a play or two that they want back. It was two distinct moments in the game, aside from settling the ball, where Chaos missed their chance to shift the outcome.
A three-point Whipsnakes run at the end of the third, and the set-play battle in the final two minutes of the fourth.
The three-point run
Prior to the three point run, there was a four minute stretch where neither team scored. All while Chaos had numerous chances to convert. An inability to make doorstep chances, once again, held them back.
Up 10-8 with 7:28 left in the 3rd, Brian Minicus turned the corner from X. Drew a triple-team and got out of the pressure. Swinging the ball back to Josh Byrne at X who turned the corner and was stuffed on the crease by Brendan Krebs — the second-year pro out of Manhattan who got his first start since Kyle Bernlohr went down with an injury last week.
That was an uncharacteristic miss by Byrne who’s seventh in the league in shooting percentage (36%), and rarely misses chances on the crease.
Then came rookie Tye Kurtz. Splitting to his left hand at X and turning the corner for the shot. He got up field, making contact with the SSDM, and clipped the toe of Krebs on the shot.
Although it was a great chance that didn't go in, he played into the hands of the Whipsnakes. The Whipsnakes would rather see Kurtz shoot an up the hash lefty shot because of his strong right-handed tendencies. Turning the corner with his right or a feed to a settled step down to one of his teammates inside 12 yards would be more favorable.
Lastly, after a heroic effort by Jarrod Neumann that led to Byrne getting the ball at the island with only the goalie in front of him. Krebs jumped outside the crease, taking away plenty of angle, which led to Byrne clipping his leg. Another grade-A chance the Chaos couldn’t capitalize on from a Krebs save.
The Set-Play Battle
With under four minutes to play, both teams got the chance to call two timeouts each and draw up a settled play to take the lead.
Chaos went first.
Towers drew up a play with Will Perry dodging down the wing and a backside pick on the wing to open up Kurtz’s hands for a short. The Whipsnakes were all over it, switching the pick and neutralizing the opportunity.
After the Whipsnakes missed on their first attempt, Towers gave the keys to Dhane to draw up the play. He planned to put it in at practice prior to the game, but missed because he got stuck traveling. Given Smith’s familiarity with the play and lacrosse IQ, he was the perfect choice to draw it up.
With 1:10 on the clock, Chaos ran their double-pick up top and picked the picker, hoping to open up someone on the back pipe.
Whipsnakes defended it well by switching on the picks, which neutralized the play. Smith took on his matchup and got just as good of a chance. Hands free at the seven yard line, one-on-one with the goalie.
Once again, Krebs stood tall and the Whipsnakes went on to convert on their final set play with seven seconds left.
You couldn’t ask for a better opportunity, but sometimes they just don’t go in.
“I still feel very very confident about this team, I think this is the most connected group we've had in our five years,” said Towers, who puts a premium on unity. “I feel like we've got the most depth, but I also feel like the league as a whole is stronger overall. So, we know we need to play our best and stay in the moment on a possession-to-possession basis if we're gonna be successful.”