1. Jake Froccaro to Myles Jones
Every team in PLL seems to be moving towards initiating from the wings – especially with pairs. The Chaos’ wrinkle: Keeping a stretch shooter near the top of the arc.
That’s typically a no-no. Shooters who stand outside of the play are worse than useless. Their defenders can help without worry. Traditionally, that man up top should be cutting through so that the dodger can sweep.
The Chaos offense doesn’t want to sweep. They want to shake short-sticks on their strong side and force you to bring the slide to them. And when you bring that slide from the stretch shooter, you better have a two slide ready. Welcome to the bomb squad, Myles.
2. Myles Jones to Jake Froccaro
Here’s the same set with Myles Jones (2G, 1T, 1A) dodging instead of Jake Froccaro (2G, 1T, 1A). Jones doesn’t take topside like Froccaro does; he wins down the alley, draws a slide, flips his hips, and skips this dime. The endzone angle is the best to appreciate what’s happening here: The first slide came from Eric Scott, but instead of feeding Scott as the two slide arrives to him, Jones feeds Froccaro before the third slide can get there.
The cliché has told us time and time again that the ball moves faster than your feet – but there aren’t many passers whose minds can think faster than the collective consciousness of this Redwoods defense. Most players send that pass to Scott and this dodge never generates a shot. Jones is seeing the game at another level. Nobody is creating two-point attempts in six-on-six sets as often or as well as the Chaos right now.
3. Ryder Garnsey’s mom pulling out a classic photo
After Ryder Garnsey’s (3G, 1A) big game, Kyle Harrison shouted the rookie out on Twitter:
“Tough one in San Jose yesterday, but this kid Ryder Garnsey is a superstar in the making. Competitive as hell, great teammate, skilled, and fearless.”
Garnsey’s mom’s responded with a photo of Harrison and Garnsey from a decade ago, telling Harrison that he “showed him those qualities first hand, giving him a private lesson when he was 10 years old.”
Chills. Harrison and other pros are making an impact on today’s youth with PLL Academy, postgame autograph sessions, and at the Premier Zone. Seeing this photo is a reminder that some of those young PLL fans will be playing here – perhaps alongside their idols – someday. That’s special.
(Sidenote: Garrett Epple and the rest of the Notre Dame grads are going to give Garnsey grief for being caught rocking a Hopkins shirt.)
4. Coach Resch’s defensive adjustments
The Atlas threw some new offensive looks at the Archers on Sunday night. It looked like a pairs offense, initiating with a two-man mirror on the high wing. When the Atlas midfielders swept toward the middle, the passing lanes opened up. This pass from John Crawley to Eric Law is beautiful.
As Scott Ratliff slides, he passes off his man to Matt McMahon. McMahon is now the two slide, but nobody has his original man: Eric Law.
Coach Resch’s Archers defense adjusts better than any unit in the PLL. They have allowed the fewest fourth quarter goals in the league. At halftime, they scheme. You heard McMahon tell it to Ryan Boyle live on the broadcast. Boyle asked McMahon if they talked about keeping their cool against a chippy Atlas team in the huddle. Nope, they mostly just talked X’s and O’s.
Fast forward to the second half with Joel Tinney dodging in Crawley’s place. Ratliff passes off Buczek to McMahon again, but it doesn’t look like he’s preparing to slide. Instead, the Archers are ready to slide adjacent with Dominique Alexander. And as Tinney feeds Law, Ratliff is there to close out and match sticks for the blocked shot.
That’s a clean defensive sequence, and it sums up the second half. The Atlas were able to bang the ball around the perimeter, but they couldn’t attack the heart of the defense like they did in the first half.
5. Matt Rambo benched at halftime
After shooting 0-for-5 with a turnover in the first half, the league’s leading scorer entering the weekend, Matt Rambo, was benched. It’s not the first time Whipsnakes head coach Jim Stagnitta has sat a star. Connor Kelly was a healthy scratch early in the season; Ben Reeves was benched in Week 7 for passing out of short-stick matchups. But this was the biggest statement of all.
Sans Chef, the Whipsnakes ran Ryan Drenner, Jay Carlson and Connor Kelly on attack. Only two of those players are natural attackmen, and none of them are left-handed attackmen. Spacing was clunky. The Whips made a bit of a comeback in the third quarter thanks to transition from Michael Ehrhardt (3G, 2T) and Joe Nardella (2G). Then they sputtered in the fourth quarter, scoring only one goal in the final frame.
Obviously Rambo’s job is not in jeopardy. He’s an MVP candidate – hell, he’s the MVP favorite alongside Connor Fields. Still, the move is worth monitoring as it impacts the Whipsnakes’ chemistry entering the postseason.
6. Jordan Wolf running razor picks
The Chrome offense is at its best when Jordan Wolf (2G, 2A) can get to his right hand. One way to do that: Pick location.
Razor picks are almost impossible to fight through because they force the on-ball defender to either (a) navigate the back of the net or (b) go above goal-line extended. The latter can cost a defender precious leverage. When Wolf is able to gain a full head of steam and get physical at the island, he has already won. From there, he can inside roll or plant for a jump shot around you. The defense needs to slide; so Wolf bounces away from his man to free his hands and feeds Matt Danowski (3G).
7. John Paul and Ryan Boyle breaking down the invert
These halftime whiteboard segments are awesome, especially when you see the sets on the field a few minutes later. Atlas head coach John Paul broke down their invert set with Crawley and Law behind the cage. He talks through their terms like “Island X” (which sounds like a summer reality show greenlit by Jack Donaghy). Above the cage, they have three concepts: pasta, east-west exchanges and north-south exchanges. Give it a listen and see if you can recognize these next time you watch the Atlas offense.
8. Crease Collapse of the Week
John Haus is one of the most confusing players to slide to in the PLL. John Galloway has called him the best hesitation dodger in the league – here’s why. He can roll into what looks like an alley dodge only to explode backwards into a passing position. Joel White hedges to Haus, and Chris Sabia starts to sprint toward White’s man, until they both slam on the brakes. Sabia recovers to his man in time, and likely would not have let up a quality shot (or even a shot at all), but just in case Joe Fletcher comes crashing in from X with the fill.
9. Jarrod Neumann, talkin’ to ‘em
Trash talk is part of competition. Athletes jaw back and forth all game. That back-and-forth jawing comes to a screeching halt under two conditions: if either (a) you’re in a rap battle, your real name is Clarence, and your opponent unexpectedly doxes you or (b) you’re playing lacrosse and someone scores a goal on you from 20 yards out. If either of those two things happen to you, then there’s nothing left for you to say. The person who is not named Clarence, or who has scored from 20 yards out, is allowed to continue talking.
Neumann got the final word on Saturday. He told Ryan Boyle and Brendan Burke that he feels like he’s in range any time he steps within 20 yards of the cage – a.k.a. closer to midfield than to goal-line extended. After he buried his two-pointer, Neumann turned to Eddy Glazener and told him that he should have slid. That’s an off-the-charts level of disrespect. The Chaos’ swagger grows every week as they look to lock up a top-two seed next week.
10. Archers’ offensive spacing
An offense that appeared to lack initiators as recently as last week is now attacking from all areas of the field. Christian Cuccinello (2G, 1A) dodged fearlessly at Tucker Durkin at X. Joey Sankey (2G, 1A) fit in wonderfully in his Archers debut on the left-hand side playing with either Ryan Ambler (1G, 2A) or Will Manny (1G, 1A) as his twin. There are more matchups than ever that demand slides, leading to better ball movement and a combined 30 shots for the Big Three of Manny, Marcus Holman (4G) and Tom Schreiber (2G).
This fourth quarter sequence displayed the multi-dimensional nature of the Archers’ offense. On the left-hand side, Sankey and Ambler worked a two-man game against two short-sticks. Ambler slipped to space, caught the pass, hitched, and improved his angle.
Shortly after, Schreiber and Ben McIntosh (1G, 1A) worked the right-handed twin to perfection. This is a lightning quick release from Schreiber. The ball is in his stick for 0.5 seconds by my count. Next Training Camp, let’s get John Brenkus to measure all the Archers’ “pop” times. I’d put Manny and Holman against anyone in the league.