Kieran McArdle

The Waterdogs were on the wrong end of their own trick in Cash App Championship loss

By Wyatt Miller

Sep 27, 2023

You live by the comeback, you die by the comeback.

The Waterdogs’ regular season was defined by late-game heroics, with three game-winning goals in the final minute. They were on the other end of that on Championship Sunday. 

With 1:37 remaining in the game and the score knotted at 14, the MVP came up clutch. Tom Schreiber picked up a ground ball and went to work on Ben Randall, who stumbled as Schreiber dodged to his right to find a better angle. His sidearm shot snuck right below the crossbar to put the Archers up one, with two seconds left on the shot clock.

The Waterdogs had multiple chances to tie or win the game after that, but couldn’t get it done. After a magical season in which they were dubbed the “Cardiac Dogs'' for their clutch success, the Waterdogs made last-minute mistakes that forced them into a corner. This time, they couldn’t fight their way out of it. 

After Schreiber’s score, Kieran McArdle took the shot in the clutch, as he often does. Warren Jeffrey held McArdle scoreless with constant physicality, and this dodge was no different. Jeffrey’s wrap check brough McArdle to his knees on a shot that he didn’t follow through on, and Michael Sowers jogged to the boundary line to retrieve it.

At the last second, Connor Maher dashed forward and dove for the bouncing ball, placing himself closer to it than Sowers. Rather than having nine seconds to attempt another shot, the Waterdogs lost possession with 1:10 remaining.

Yet, in a game where the Waterdogs trailed heavily, Copelan said nobody was worried, not even when they were down one with 11.7 seconds left. 

“We were down six or seven goals and I don’t think there was a guy on the sideline that had any panic,” Copelan said. “That’s just not how we’re wired. That group is made of the right stuff. They fight until the bitter end, and you saw that today.”

That calm, collective presence allowed them to get one more surprisingly solid look. They drew up one final heave to win the game and Copelan got the shot he wanted. The ball, quite literally, just didn’t bounce their way.

Liam Byrnes threw it almost the length of the field to Michael Sowers at the Archers’ arc. After a hit knocked him off-balance, he found Jake Carraway streaking toward the top. 

It was a better look than anyone could have hoped for. With 2.5 seconds remaining, Carraway, an elite shooter who hit a 2 earlier in this game, had his hands free with an ideal angle. His bouncer from range was on target, but ricocheted off Brett Dobson’s stick head as he raised it, and the ball shot just over the crossbar.

“I’m glad we got a shot off,” Copelan said. “We were in the exact same situation last year against the Chaos and we managed to get the game the exact same way Coach Bates did this year… We ended up getting a great shot on cage and I’m sure Jake doesn’t feel great about it, but Jake Carraway was awesome today.”

The Waterdogs were inches away from repeating as champions. This game, like so many others this season, came down to the very last second. The Waterdogs were just fresh out of miracles at the season’s end.

Share This With Friends