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How the Whipsnakes defense can stop the Waterdogs offense

By Adam Lamberti

Sep 4, 2023

Once you reach the PLL Cash App Playoffs, not much that changes in terms of defensive strategy. Wins and losses in the playoffs come down to one basic thing - execution.

“The hard part is just executing at the level these things need to be executed against really good teams,” said defenseman Matt Dunn.

On Monday, both the Whipsnakes and Waterdogs know each other's strengths and weaknesses. For the Whipsnakes defense, that means executing in these three areas to be successful in slowing down the Waterdogs offense. 

1. Limit transition

This is key for any team's defense in the Cash App Playoffs, but especially so if you’re playing the Waterdogs. The Waterdogs lead the league in transition goals with 27 and are shooting an efficient 39.1%. Matt Whitcher has been one of the top transition SSDM’s in the league this season with five goals. Whipsnakes fans are sure to remember the goal he scored last year against the Whipsnakes to tie the game up in the semifinals.

The Whipsnakes have looked solid in most settled six-on-six sets, but it has been the transition game that has killed them in some close defeats. If they can limit the Waterdogs two or three goals in transition, their odds of winning increase drastically.

2. Don’t give up 2-pointers

The Waterdogs have two of the top eight 2-point goal scorers this season: Connor Kelly and Jack Hannah.

Back in the third week of the season, Kelly willed the Waterdogs to victory with three 2-point goals, one of the best individual performances you will see in the PLL.

Last week, Hannah tied the game late in the fourth quarter on a long drive as well and scored a two-ball against the Whipsnakes earlier this season.

This key feels especially important because last week, the Whipsnakes had a two-goal lead against the Cannons before giving up back to back 2-pointers that swung the game very quickly in favor of the Cannons.

3. Get hands on Michael Sowers in the pick game

The Waterdogs don’t play the 2-man game anymore than the next team, but when they do, they are pretty effective. 

Zach Currier, Kieran McArdle, and Ethan Walker have great chemistry in the two-man game from the left wing, but I’m particularly concerned about picks for Michael Sowers.

In particular, when the Waterdogs set picks for Sowers in dangerous areas, like GLE, he uses his quickness and tends to take advantage.

In the past, Matt Dunn has been matched up on Sowers and you would expect that to be the same this time around.

To prevent Sowers turning the corner, defensive midfielders will need to help Dunn deal with these picks by getting a piece of Sowers to deter him from his patch or switch all together.

Sowers will likely get his, but the Whipsnakes can’t let him have any easy ones.

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