Matchup Preview: Baptiste vs. Farrell

By Lauren Merola | Jun 29, 2022

The Week 5 matchups pit two of the best faceoff specialists in the League against each other when Atlas’ Trevor Baptiste steps up to the stripe against Chrome’s Connor Farrell.

It’ll be a battle of speed and power.

Baptiste stands at 5’10” and 225 pounds and Farrell at 6’2” and 240 pounds. 

“It's really easy to look at this matchup and say it’s an unstoppable force versus an immovable object, but I think what neither of these guys get credit for – especially Connor – is he’s not just a big guy who throws his weight around,” Greg Gurenlian, the Redwoods’ former faceoff specialist, said. “In fact, he really doesn’t on the initial move. It’s all about hand speed.”

Both are quick, clamp-dominant and rotate counterclockwise on a win. Farrell and Baptiste are capable of securing the faceoff win themselves, leading the league in groundballs with 43 (1st) and 41 (2nd), respectively.

Farrell faces off from standing neutral grip (SNG). He started doing so after the NCAA banned facing off from a knee and using motorcycle grip – the most common grip in which the stick is held with both palms down – in 2020. Farrell said he changed his grip because he trains young players in SNG, so he should practice it himself.

Baptiste faces off from a knee, approaching the ball from a top angle, which will be a challenge against Farrell, who comes up under the ball in SNG.

“I think it’ll get Trevor a few times in the beginning, but I think the adjustment Trevor will make is at halftime, he’ll think, ‘Do I stand up as well, or do I stay on a knee and make my exits a lot faster?’” Gurenlian said. “If you look at Connor, he has so much success punching into the ball, turning his hips and blocking guys on his exit, so you can’t get around him. He’s just too big. Trevor’s the one guy in the League who is strong enough to get through that.”

Both exit defensively after a won clamp. Gurenlian said if he were going up against either of them, he’d set his long-stick midfielder (LSM) up on the wing and have him sprint in to double team the exit.

“I think I have the best wings in the game,” Farrell said. “At the faceoff stripe, it’s never a one-on-one battle. It’s a three-on-three battle. It doesn’t matter if you just win the clamp, you got to make sure you get out, your wing guys got to help you and let you know what spots are open. You can’t do anything without them.”

On Chrome’s wings are Eli Salama and Nick Grill at LSM and Will Haus, Ryan Terefenko and Mike Messenger at short-stick defensive midfield (SSDM).

Atlas’ wings are Craig Chick and Koby Smith at LSM and Danny Logan and Peter Dearth at SSDM.

“My wings are massively and impeccably important,” Baptiste said. 

Farrell won 60-of-96 (63%) and Baptiste won 68-of-92 (74%) faceoffs through the first four weeks of the season. 

In Week 2 against the Redwoods, Farrell stifled TD Ierlan, winning 12-of-18 faceoffs on 67%.

In Week 4 against the Archers, Baptiste was near-perfect, winning 19-of-22 faceoffs on 86%. In Week 2 against the Cannons, Baptiste won 85.7% of clamps – and turned 16 of 18 clamp wins into faceoff wins. He lost three clamps but still managed to win two of the three faceoffs.

Baptiste has a robust ability to turn faceoff wins into quick offensive movement and goals.

Against Farrell, it’s unlikely many possessions will end in fast breaks. Instead, Baptiste and Farrell will go to battle for every ball, spending more time on the ground and fighting for the 50-50s.

With such an even matchup at the stripe, possession time could come down to basic stick skills.

“I feel like the one difference [between them] is that Trevor is fantastic with the ball and makes great decisions whereas Connor is still getting better at his stick skills post-win on a faceoff, so you can pressure Connor more easily than you can pressure Trevor,” Gurenlian said.