Zach Currier faceoff

How the Waterdogs pulled off wild 3-point comeback in final 30 seconds vs Archers

By Wyatt Miller

Aug 28, 2023

When Zach Currier went to the stripe with 49 seconds remaining, the Waterdogs were down by two. Currier – an elite ground ball collector – had to win the faceoff against Mike Sisselberger, one of the best young specialists in the game, for the Dogs to have a chance.

On the clamp, Currier jarred the ball loose and a scrum ensued until Ryland Rees came out with it. Head coach Andy Copelan immediately called a timeout to draw up a 2-point play where Rees subbed in from the box to get an open look. He got the shot they wanted within seconds, but his bouncer from distance was saved.

Michael Sowers ran down the rebound in the left corner. When he turned around, Jack Hannah was wide open with his hands up on the right wing. Sowers lobbed the skip pass across the arc, and Hannah stepped into a high bouncer from beyond the arc that sniped the top left corner, freezing goalie Nick Washuta.

Just like that, the Waterdogs had tied the game with 27.5 seconds remaining. It was far from how they drew it up, but they got it done. The Dogs have embraced a scrappy, transition-friendly identity, and those were the plays that won them this game, not the ones from the whiteboard. 

“As I told the guys briefly postgame, it doesn’t matter how you get it done this time of year, just getting it done and advancing your season is the most important thing,” Copelan said.

The score was 13-13 when Currier went back to the stripe for another battle with the rookie wrestler. This time, Sisselberger won the clamp and advanced forward, but Currier came from behind with a one-handed stick check to put the ball on the turf. Chris Sabia picked it up and advanced in transition, making its way to Ethan Walker on the right side.

Taking a screen from Christian Scarpello, Walker got his hands free on a lefty runner from straight ahead. It was exactly the look they wanted, but the high shot was blocked by Washuta. When he tried to cradle the messy save, he accidentally hit the ball backwards, over his head and right into McArdle’s stick. The veteran faked high on the doorstep before finishing off the turf with 4.6 seconds remaining, giving the Waterdogs a 14-13 lead. 

This was McArdle’s second 4th-quarter hat trick in the past three games, finishing an improbable 3-point comeback in under 30 seconds. 

McArdle did what he always does: came up clutch. Once again, this was not how they drew it up in the huddle. The Waterdogs got the looks they wanted on both possessions and missed twice – it was the creative second-chance plays that converted in the clutch.

The Archers endured just their second loss of the season and their first since the all-star break, while the Waterdogs moved to 6-0 with Dillon Ward. Although the Archers still secured the 1st seed and a bye, this was a massive momentum swing for the defending champions entering their repeat bid. 

The quarterfinals are on Monday, Sept. 4, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, where the Waterdogs will take on the Whipsnakes.

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