Redwoods roll to 13-7 victory over Whipsnakes

By Katie McNulty | Jul 11, 2021

In the biggest rivalry in the PLL, it was the Redwoods who came out on top, defeating the Whipsnakes 13-7 Saturday night in Minnesota. 

Before today’s game, the two had met five times since the PLL’s inaugural season, but the Redwoods had only won one game, and it was in the first-ever meeting. Tonight, that changed.

Redwoods head coach Nat St. Laurent said in the postgame press conference that they just tried to focus on being 1-0 before the game. 

“They should be putting pressure on us,” said St. Laurent. “They’re the champs. They’re great, and we can’t make this game bigger than it is. Anytime you can win and compete in this league, that’s a huge win... Are emotions are a little higher? Sure – it’s Woods vs. Whips. We have so much respect for that team and coaching staff. We know they respect us as well.” 

The Whipsnakes were missing Michael Ehrhardt (upper extremity) and Matt Rambo (upper extremity) today, and it showed. They never found their rhythm throughout the game, scoring just seven goals, which was the fewest number of goals they’ve put up in Whipsnakes history. The Redwoods defense held Zed Williams to just one assist today.

The Whipsnakes generate most of their offensive momentum from faceoff star Joe Nardella, but TD Ierlan gave Nardella a battle. Ierlan won 13 of 24 faceoffs tonight and limited Nardella to a 48% day at the stripe.

“TD’s one of the best in the world,” said Redwoods midfielder Myles Jones. “He showed up as a rookie in every game he’s played.” 

In last week's game against the Waterdogs, Redwoods goalie Tim Troutner was pulled after giving up 10 goals in the first half. St. Laurent put in Jack Kelly in the second half, but he knew he would go back to Troutner today. That paid off as Troutner converted 17 saves. 

“That’s who Timmy is,” St. Laurent said. I kind of expected it, to be honest with you. What a performance. 17 saves for him against these guys in this league is awesome, but we knew, and we talked earlier in the week when I told him he’d be starting, and he was ready to go. Extremely proud of him. He definitely bailed us out.” 

The Redwoods had control for almost the whole game. A Sergio Perkovic goal put the Redwoods up 2-1 with just 7:12 left to play in the first quarter, and they would never lose that lead.

The Redwoods led 3-2 at the end of the first quarter, but the Redwoods dominated from there, outscoring the Whipsnakes 10-5 in the last three quarters. 

The Redwoods had plenty of unselfish offense displayed tonight, with their 13 goals coming from six different goal scorers. Matt Kavanagh and Jules Heningburg both led the way with four points.

“It’s a pretty dangerous group,” Jones said. “I think our midfield group is playing really well. Jules is feeling a little bit of a chip on his shoulder from not being an All-Star...He showed that today. Perkovic did a really good job for us of playing two sides of the ball when (Kevin Unterstein) wasn’t able to get as many reps. When we talk about our offense, it’s just a lot of unselfish guys.” 

With this being the last game for both teams before the PLL goes into the All-Star break, Whipsnakes head coach Jim Stagnitta said they’re going to take the break as an opportunity to get healthy and refocus. 

“We’re going to come back and be prepared for a competitive stretched run,” Stagnitta said. “We had a lot of guys out there who were out in new positions for the first time, and it was a great learning experience for them.”

The Redwoods will take on the Archers on July 31 in Colorado, while the Whipsnakes go head-to-head with the Waterdogs on July 31.

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