The Weekend Preview: Throwbacks in Denver

By Josh Schafer | Aug 5, 2022

This week’s PLL Weekend is one for nostalgia. It’s an ode to 1990 something when Walkmans, and the launch of Friends dominated pop culture. It’s an ode to 1990 something, when a trip to Colorado meant bright-colored ski gear and an emerging sports scene. It’s an ode to 1990, a time when mesh jerseys ruled the lacrosse world.

The PLL is rocking retro jerseys all week. And like combing through a Backyard Sports roster, each of these jerseys brings a certain memory to mind.

Cannon and Archers jerseys look remarkably close to Syracuse’s 1990s jerseys worn by the Gait brothers for multiple national championships. Will someone go Air Gait in the retro this weekend?

Chaos and Waterdogs trigger memories of dark colored jerseys of the era, more like a Brown or Princeton. Perhaps this is the weekend we start to feel a repeat from Chaos as the black and red (almost orange) jerseys send out signals of the Bill Tierney Princeton.

Regardless, each jersey will trigger something within us, some moment, some play. That’s what’s fun about jerseys. They’re a core piece of our sports memories. Here’s to hoping a PLL player gives us one of those moments this weekend.

Here’s my Player Royale lineup this week:

  • Lyle Thompson, Cannons attack
  • Bryan Costabile, Atlas midfield
  • Michael Ehrhardt, Whipsnakes long-stick midfield
  • Joe Nardella, Whipsnakes faceoff
  • Sean Sconone, Chrome goalie

Cannons LC vs. Redwoods LC

Friday, August 5th at 9:00 p.m. ET | ESPN and ESPN+

All-time series: Redwoods lead, 1-0

Stat to know: 39.7%

The Redwoods, a team long known for its stalwart defense, hasn’t been solid on the back end this year. The ‘Woods have allowed goals on 39.7% of the shots engaged by two-man games. That’s the worst mark in the league. But it gets even more bleak. The ‘Woods also rank last in shooting percentage when the shot comes from a dodge.

Player Royale to consider: Lyle Thompson, A, Cannons LC

It’s never a bad weekend to play Lyle at attack in Player Royale, but based on the above information, I’m riding with the world’s best attackman. Lyle can score at will when provided isolation opportunities. Watch for that to be a theme on Friday.

Why the Redwoods: While the flaws have been pointed out in the ‘Woods settled defense, the club ranks second in transition defense. Between TD Ierlan at the stripe and a solid fast-break unit behind him the Redwoods likely won’t have a long run against them on Friday night. It’s also worth noting while neither defense has been great, Cannons has actually been worse in some respects. The Cannons are the least efficient defense in the league allowing goals on 33.4% of their defensive possessions.

Why the Cannons: As previously stated, Cannons has the advantage in settled offense and with Lyle Thompson at the helm, anything can happen. On top of that, Redwoods save percentage (41%) trails Cannons by eight percent. The Cannons aren’t a powerplay threat and allow the third most goals on the man-advantage league wide. The Redwoods have shown more positives this year and if those bright spots appear Friday they’ll be more fine.

The pick: The ‘Woods have more positives on tape thus far and therefore have to be the pick.


Chaos LC vs. Chrome LC

Saturday, August 6th at 11:30 a.m. ET | ESPN+

All-time series: Chaos leads, 3-2

Stat to know: 20.7%

Chrome is the best defense in the league against non-assisted scoring opportunities. If Chaos is to succeed offensively in this game it will need to come from ball movement and potentially the re-emergence of its two-man game. Picks and passing will be the keys to getting Chrome’s defense moving and out of position.

Player Royale to consider: Sean Sconone, G, Chrome LC

This was probably my least favorite pick on the team this week but that’s sort of how choosing the Tier 3 player goes. Sconone has had some standout performances for Chrome. He’s second in the league in shots created (largely due to his clearing ability) and could be an outsider threat to pick up an assist.

Why Chaos: After winning four-straight games to begin the year, Chrome hit a roadblock in July. The young  team has lost three straight games and is clearly searching for direction headed into the final stretch of the season. Chaos, which appears to be meshing at the right time, has the momentum headed into this one.

Why Chrome: Chrome, at least statistically, has a significantly better defense than Chaos. Plain and simple if this becomes a battle of possessions the Chrome domes have a better chance at winning the faceoff and defending against a goal if they lose than Chaos. Chrome does a better job than Chaos of allowing shot opportunities in general. That could also help Chrome over the course of four quarters relying on Sean Sconone to outmatch Chaos goalie Blaze Riorden.

The pick: Momentum matters, I’m riding with the Chaos comeback tour.


Waterdogs LC vs. Atlas LC

Saturday, August 6th at 2 p.m. ET | ESPN+

All-time series: Tied, 1-1

Stat to know: 302

The Waterdogs lead the league in shot attempts.  While this could be a push from the owner’s box, the strategy seems to be legit. The Dogs have attempted 20 more shots than the next closest team (Whipsnakes) and 30 more than Atlas. As the PLL stat guru Joe Keegan pointed out, Waterdogs are undefeated (4-0) when attempting more than 43 shots in a game.

Player Royale to consider: Bryan Costabile, M, Atlas LC

Costabile is on a three-game points streak and didn’t turn the ball over once last week. While the Atlas midfielder has been outwardly critical of his own play, it appears he’s starting to heat up down the stretch. Looking for a Tier 2 midfielder this week, I’m going with the flow.

Why the Waterdogs: It’s been a year of streaks in the PLL and the Waterdogs are on a hot one.  Their style of play feels slightly different from Atlas in that Waterdogs relies on a group of scorers each week while Atlas has some top level offensive talent to lead the way. If Waterdogs can make this game messy with extended ground ball fights and Jake Withers roughing up Trevor Baptiste, that’ll be a good start for the men in purple. Two-man games will be a matchup to watch in this one, too. Waterdogs are the top two-man game offense but Atlas is also the top ranking two-man game defense. Who wins that battle could decide the game.

Why Atlas: The Waterdogs just let up 14 goals to a Cannons team with talented individual offensive players. Atlas can spread the rock but has a similar cast of players in that Jeff Teat or Chris Gray can score seemingly at will. Waterdogs defense has improved marginally throughout the year, particularly with the addition of Dillion Ward back into the lineup, but still at some point beating Atlas comes down to goals allowed and the Waterdogs hasn’t played this kind of offense yet.

The pick: Waterdogs' new look defense has struggled at points this year and I think that holds them back in their first matchup with one of the PLL’s top offenses.


Archers LC vs. Whipsnakes LC

Saturday, August 6th at 4:40 p.m. ET | ESPN+

All-time series: Whipsnakes lead, 3-2

Stat to know: 33.5%

The Archers are still the most efficient offense in the PLL. This will be particularly relevant in a game where the Archers might lag behind in possessions. If the Arrows can keep the game slow, and limit the overall number of possessions, they’re a better offense in settled situations.

Player Royale to consider: Michael Ehrhardt, LSM, Whipsnakes LC

I’m rolling with Ehrhardt because this feels like a momentous game among two of the league’s best and Ehrhardt consistently makes plays for the Whipsnakes in those moments. As an LSM he’ll have plenty of opportunities to pick up points with ground balls and is a scoring threat on the other end as well.

Why the Archers: With Grant Ament getting back into a groove, this offense is only going to improve. Archers have held teams under 10 goals just twice this year. It’s unlikely this team slowly chokes out the Whips with suffocating defense. The question is can the defense do enough to survive and can the offense score at an impressive clip with limited possessions. The Arrows have done it in the past, but it does require quite the performance.

Why the Whipsnakes: Archers goalie Adam Ghitelman made just six saves last week. The team won 35% of faceoffs. Plain and simple, that’s a tough way to win a lacrosse game and the Whipsnakes will have advantages in those areas just as Atlas did a week ago. Whips faceoff specialist Joe Nardella will be an x-factor in this game. His ability to win the Whips possessions and give Matt Rambo, Zed Williams, and the rest of the offense more shots at Ghitelman likely decides this one.

The pick: The Whips keep rolling.