Top takeaways as Atlas keep rolling, Whipsnakes win in OT

By PLL Beat Writers | Jun 16, 2024

New York Atlas 20, California Redwoods 15

Lauren Merola: In a game of runs, New York ran away with it

The Atlas got off to their slowest start of the season and had a deficit to work back from. And work back they did, going on two 6-0 runs – one in the first half and one in the second.

In the first half, the team’s six unanswered goals gave it a two-point pad before the Redwoods equalized the game at eight heading into the half. New York’s second-half scoring spree saw it take a 14-8 advantage and Connor Shellenberger land his touches.

Shellenberger finished with seven points (4G, 3A) and is likely the early favorite for Rookie of the Year. Jeff Teat had eight points (4G, 4A) and the Atlas had nine goal-scorers on the day.

Coming into the weekend, Atlas players led the league in points (Teat), one-point goals (Xander Dickson), scoring points (Dickson), assists (Teat), shots (Teat), faceoff win percentage (Trevor Baptiste, who left Sunday's game with an injury) and tied for most two-point goals (Koby Smith). That offensive prowess stayed steady in Week 3.

Now the Atlas head into the bye week at a league-best 4-0. No other team has yet to eclipse three wins.

Up next for New York: vs. Maryland Whipsnakes (Friday, June 28, 7 p.m. ET)

Jerome Taylor: Redwoods Overwhelmed by the Atlas Offense

Despite TD Ierlan winning 70.6% of the faceoffs with Baptiste on the other side, the Redwoods were plagued by 20 turnovers. And ultimately, their offense just couldn’t keep up with the high-powered New York attack. 

Things started on a high note for the Woods, as they got out to a 5-1 start. However, like last week, once the opposition went on a run, the Redwoods were without an answer for long stretches. 

“It’s not like the ball is dying in the same person’s stick all the time," Redwoods head coach Nat St. Laurent said. "One game is this guy, one game it’s that guy, we’ve got to clean that up.

“The first time it feels like we're not in a groove, these guys are alphas, and they go out and try to make a play… lacrosse is a beautiful game, but it’s a game you can’t insert yourself all the time, and we’ve started to figure that out, but we have to be more consistent.” 

Defensively, it is tough to make a fair assessment because Chris Fake went down in the first half with a left hamstring injury. Even though Brian Tevlin put forth a valiant and versatile effort by picking up a pole, it's not an ideal situation when you’re facing the best offense in lacrosse. 

“They just got tired,” St Laurent said of his defense. “We need to do a better job managing the game from offense to defense.” 

Now 0-2 and on the wrong end of a five-goal loss (remember, score differential matters for playoffs), the Redwoods will have the league’s bye week to figure out their go-to actions when they need to stop a run. 

Up next for California: vs. Denver Outlaws (Saturday, June 29, 6 p.m. ET)

Maryland Whipsnakes 15, Philadephia Waterdogs 14 (OT)

Adam Lamberti: Matt Rambo the hometown hero in overtime thriller

Philadelphia native Matt Rambo was the hometown hero for the Whipsnakes, burying the overtime winner to give Maryland its first win of the season.

While it’s only Week 3, this felt like a game the Whipsnakes needed to have. After losing a late fourth-quarter lead, Colin Heacock painted a corner to even the score and send the game into overtime. 

In overtime, the Whipsnakes couldn’t convert after a Joe Nardella faceoff win, but Brendan Krebs saved the game with an unbelievable stop on the doorstep to deny Waterdogs attackman Kieran McArdle. On the next possession, Rambo curled to his strong left hand from behind the net, got a step and finished the shot.

This was the definition of a "team win." Nardella went a perfect 31-for-31 at the faceoff. Krebs made 14 saves, none bigger than the game-saving stop in overtime. The Whipsnakes had nine different goal-scorers, including two tallies from defenseman Matt Dunn

Not only was it the Whipsnakes' first win, but they got it over a conference foe, something that will be meaningful later in the season come the battle for playoffs.

From a neutral perspective, this was as exciting a lacrosse game as you’ll find. For the Whipsnakes, this win was something to build upon.

Up next for Maryland: vs. New York Atlas (Friday, June 28, 7 p.m. ET)

Wyatt Miller: Zach Currier takes over in first game without faceoff duties, but Dogs fall short

The Waterdogs’ faceoff strategy has been a hot topic this season. Despite long poles not being allowed at the stripe, the Dogs have stuck to their no-specialist approach. In the first two games, Zach Currier supplemented the lack of a specialist with his box experience, but that has limited his production elsewhere. On Sunday, Currier was only used on offense and in limited defensive sets. The results were immediate.

Currier scored his first hat trick since 2021, including the game-tying goal in the fourth quarter, along with two assists to lead an otherwise stagnant Waterdogs offense. His quarterbacking skills made a clear difference after Philly managed just 11 points in each of its first two games. The defensive midfielders did a fine job of manning the stripe, but it wasn’t enough to get the Waterdogs their first win of the 2024 season.

“In the first two games, we thought Zach could battle through some of those faceoffs, but him winning only three or four, we thought that by having our defensive personnel on there… we believe in those guys,” head coach Bill Tierney said. 

Conserving that energy was the key for Currier, as Tierney acknowledged that “Zach had more zip on offense.

"He showed what he was," the coach said.

Late in the fourth quarter, Currier fought through contact in the middle of the field to score low-to-high past Krebs in net, tying the game at 13. But that wasn’t his only impressive play. A shifty face dodge from the top of the arc followed by a low-to-high finish put his second goal on the board, and a flip to Ethan Walker after Currier drew the slide tied it at seven in the third quarter.

Currier’s command of the offense almost carried them to the win. In the Waterdogs’ only overtime possession, a weaving 77 found McArdle on the crease, but he couldn’t fake out Krebs, and the ball went back to Rambo on the other end. Even in defeat, Currier’s contributions can’t be understated. Figuring out where Currier brings the most value is priority No. 1 for Philadelphia, and Sunday's loss certainly informed that decision.

Up next for Philadelphia: vs. Carolina Chaos (Friday, June 28, 8:30 p.m. ET)