Redwoods vs. Whipsnakes: Matchup Preview

By Jerome Taylor | Jul 24, 2020

The 'Woods and Whips’ kick off the Championship Series in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on NBC.

 The Championship Series starts with a championship game rematch. The teams met three times last year, and the most recent matchup created a moment that PLL fans will remember for quite some time.

Over the offseason, both teams changed their rosters a bit, but the mission stays the same. The Whips' are looking to defend their crown and overcome some losses on offense. The 'Woods are looking to integrate their biggest offseason pick up and avenge their championship game loss.

Storylines to Watch

Roster Changes
The Redwoods were coming into the series primed to deploy a revamped offensive unit, with the addition of Myles Jones. But the team got some disheartening news after finding out Jules Heningburg will be unable to participate in the Championship Series due to complications from COVID-19. Heningburg was the team’s leading scorer last year with 33 points. 

The Woods still do have a ton of firepower and are adding one of the most feared downhill dodgers in Jones to a phenomenal midfield that loves to dodge and score from up top.

The Whipsnakes are going to be dealing with losses of their own. 

The Whips' made it a priority to protect their top-tier defense during the expansion draft. They will now face the challenge of replacing Connor Kelly, Ben Reeves, Drew Snider and Ryan Drenner from last year's unit.  

Major Matchups
Like everything in lacrosse, it starts at the faceoff stripe.

The Redwoods are dealing with the monumental task of replacing Greg Gurenlian. Coach Nat St. Laurent is hoping that two PLL newcomers are capable of that task. They'll need either Greg Puskuldjian or Peyton Smith to distinguish themselves and quickly adjust to the PLL faceoff rules if they want a chance against the defending champs.

Whichever "underdog" the Redwoods trot out to the stripe will have their hands full because they'll be taking on one of the best in the league in Joe Nardella. Nardella was dominant at the stripe last year winning 55% of his faceoffs and was a finalist for the Faceoff Man of the Year Award

The biggest problem facing the Redwoods on Saturday is going to come from League MVP, Matt Rambo.

Chef Rambo cooked a lot of teams last year, but the Redwoods were his signature dish. Rambo had 21 points in three games against the Woods last season, the most points by one player against one team. 

Containing Rambo is not an easy task, and for the Woods, it won’t get any easier considering they will be without All-Star Matt Landis. But, the Redwoods must hold Rambo in check if they want to leave the weekend 1-0.

The time has finally come, Draftkings and the PLL have teamed up so that lacrosse fans can bet on the Championship Series. In this game, the most intriguing bet is over/under 23.5 goals scored between the two teams.

At first glance, a game that includes names like Rambo, Jones, Sergio Perkovic, and Mike Chanenchuk will sure to have some offensive fireworks.

While that might be true, in these teams’ three matchups last year, they only combined for over 23 goals once. With both sides integrating new pieces to their offenses, the biggest question is how quickly will they gel? 


Getting an early win in pool play is vital for both teams, especially considering that both sides were in the championship last year. Getting a win over the defending champion or the runner-up to start a Series run will bode well for team morale and confidence at the start of this unprecedented journey.

Additionally, these two teams have gotten to know each other very well over the last year, so bragging rights are on the line. The Redwoods will be looking to tie the series and silence some of the early Whipsnakes' chirps come Saturday.

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