Thompson thrives, Marrocco stands tall as Cannons top Archers, 13-12
By Quinn Magner | Jul 13, 2021
Lyle Thompson brought what the fans wanted to see this past Sunday in Minneapolis as head coach Sean Quirk’s now 2-5 Cannons upset Chris Bates’ 3-3 Archers 13-12 in thrilling fashion with major plays on both sides of the ball.
Nick Marrocco is no stranger to high-quality shooters based on his ample professional experience in the MLL and now the PLL. On Sunday in TCO Stadium in Minneapolis, Marrocco made 15 clutch saves including one with 37.2 seconds remaining from point-blank range on Archers captain Marcus Holman that closed the book on the game for Cannons. Marrocco used solid positioning in cage, tracked Archers quick passes around the perimeter moving around the goal arc, looked confident as he stepped to every shot, and he was just simply outstanding between the pipes for Cannons.
While Archers goalie Adam Ghitelman was also impressive, providing his defense, which still leads the league’s goals against average, with 13 saves, it was Marrocco who tracked Archers’ Holman one-on-one as time expired and matched sticks to make the winning save. Captain Paul Rabil and his Cannons team, who were ranked last in the PLL going into Week 5, needed that spark of life, and it came in the form of their hot, veteran goalkeeper on Sunday.
Coach Quirk spoke to Marrocco and his savvy performance during the post-game press conference.
“Nick is a fierce competitor. He understands some adversity that he had on Friday, and he just got mentally dialed in the last day and half in practice to prepare for this game. I’ve seen it over the course of a number of years having coached him with the Cannons, and he’s just a mentally tough kid. You know, he plays that underdog role a little bit, and he’s done that his whole career. He came into tonight just ready to go as he always does.”
The Thompson Train Runs Again
Cannons attackman and team captain Lyle Thompson had a rough couple of games resulting in losses leading up to Sunday’s bout with Archers. The two-time Tewaaraton winner from the University of Albany had been held to 1 goal and 0 assists against Chaos on July 3 and was blanked against Waterdogs the following weekend after getting just two shots off.
Against Archers hard-hitting defense on Sunday, though, Thompson provided fans and his teammates with what they were promised in regards to his dominance and overall prowess as an offensive powerhouse with the ball in his stick.
Archers went up 3-0 with a little over three minutes remaining in the first quarter and Thompson had been stoned point-blank by Ghitelman on the crease at this point. Cannons attackman Ryan Drenner stuck a goal to get Quirk’s crew on the board to make it 3-1. Yet, with 39 seconds left in the 1st, the league’s leader in points, Grant Ament, slung a sidearm pass through traffic to a cutting Will Manny who caught it and stuck the goal home as Marrocco worked to track the pass across his arc making the score 4-1 Archers.
In the 2nd quarter, Thompson’s 9-point onslaught began with 3 consecutive goals in less than 2 minutes, and Archers were left without a viable solution on how to contain the brilliant attackman. Graeme Hossack, Matt McMahon and Warren Jeffrey all made their rounds covering Thompson aggressively, trying to slide early to provide the double-team, but the Onondaga Nation native used his body to lean into checks, roll off of the pressure and get his hands free. With 35.7 seconds left in the 3rd quarter, Thompson led McMahon through the middle of the field, power-cradling in his right hand and leaning into an aggressive McMahon. McMahon lifted Thompson off of his feet and onto the turf as he simultaneously leaned away getting an off-stick-low shot off on Ghitelman that would go in. This eye-opening, impressive statement of a goal got Thompson to 5 goals and 3 assists before the start of the 4th quarter. Thompson had scored three goals within 75 seconds to wrap the 3rd quarter, and the Cannons sidelines were going ballistic.
When the scoring clinic from Thompson ceased for a moment, Archers’ Ghitelman went to pick off a feed to Cannons Shayne Jackson from ‘X’ and looked to have gotten himself out of position in-goal, seemingly losing sight of its location. Jackson caught the feed from Stephen Rehfuss to stick another quick-stick goal on Ghitelman increasing Cannons lead to 12-9 with just 5.5 seconds left in the 3rd quarter.
Archers captain and top midfielder Tom Schreiber finally answered the call for his team with an important assist to Manny who slung a low-to-high blast past Marrocco with 8:29 left in the 4th quarter making the score 12-10 Cannons. Schreiber then rolled back and forth on Cannons midfielder Tim Edwards before getting his hands free with a high-to-high goal of his own from the top-left side of the field to get Archers within 1 at 12-11. Archers attackman Connor Fields then scored his second of the game to tie it at 12-12. Thompson then slammed the door on Archers’ 4th quarter momentum, shouldering Hossack to the turf, and feeding Jackson who ripped one past Ghitelman with 2:52 left in the 4th to increase their lead to 13-12.
Marrocco’s in-tight, game-ending stick save on Holman came on an Archers power play with 19 seconds left in the 4th. Archers had two hail mary opportunities that could have easily tied the game up and potentially force it into overtime. It was Cannons veteran and all-time great, Brodie Merrill, who was there alongside fellow close defenders Jake Pulver and Jack Kielty to disrupt the individual, last-second efforts from Manny and Schreiber in front of Marrocco’s goal mouth.
“There wasn’t necessarily one thing today that went particularly wrong. I think that we collectively could have made plays, and we’re not pointing the figure at anybody,” said Archers’ Ament after the game. “At the end of the day, we just aren’t playing as confident as we used to be. So, the only way to get that back is to just work hard off the field, try to just grind during the week, get your reps in, get in the weight room and kind of get back to the drawing board.”
Time to Reset and Refocus
With next weekend being the PLL All-Star game in San Jose, CA, most of the teams’ players will have an opportunity to realign priorities, rest up and zero in on the remainder of the 2021 season. Archers’ Ament has been named as captain of the Adversaries All-Star team, and he’ll be joined by a number of Sunday’s names such as Manny, Schreiber, Thompson and Rabil as well. Players from all eight rosters then have a bye weekend before reconvening in Colorado Springs on July 30, 31 and August 1 for Week 7’s matchups.
“We went into this game with our backs against the wall a bit at 1-5. Our guys just stuck to the game plan, they were gritty, they were tough, they were disciplined, and they just came out with the win against a very good Archers team,” exclaimed Quirk after the game. “Overall, whoever the six guys are who are out there, the chemistry was just there tonight. In regards to Paul and Lyle, they have a pretty special connection, those two guys. There was a lot of communication going on during time-outs and before the game in regards to how they were going to conduct things with a lot of those picks with Coach Kirwan involved, and it played out in our favor tonight.”