Top takeaways as Cannons surge past Waterdogs, Archers dazzle

By PLL Beat Writers | Jul 6, 2024

Utah Archers 16, Maryland Whipsnakes 11

Zach Carey: Archers ride unbelievable individual offensive performances to first place in the West

Connor Fields’ “goal of the century” highlighted everything that went right for the Archers in a bounce-back offensive performance against the Whips.

Utah scored 12 unassisted goals on its way to reclaiming first place in the Western Conference. Critically, even though they only had three assisted scores, the Archers did well rotating the ball into matchups that they wanted to attack more than they had in past weeks.

“When we share the ball and guys are spaced, we’re really hard to stop,” Utah head coach Chris Bates said postgame. “It was nice to see it open up a little bit more today.”

Fields was the headliner, with his absurd between-the-legs, low-to-high rip providing the exclamation point on a resurgent display of dodging dominance for the Archers. But Mac O’Keefe (4G), Tre Leclaire (2G, 1T), Grant Ament (1G, 2A) and Matt Moore (2G) all had their moments to keep Maryland at bay.

Moore’s first two scores of the season were a critical boost. Through the first four games, he’d shot 0-for-13 with just one assist. Against a tough matchup in No. 3 overall pick Ajax Zappitello, he shot 2-for-6 and took pressure off the rest of the Utah offense as a result.

“To see him go at guys and get a couple goals, everybody was ecstatic for him just to sort of break that ice and get his confidence back,” Bates said. “That helps us a ton.”

On the back end, Brett Dobson continued to stand tall in cage with 15 saves, a 57.7% save rate and a string of impressive doorstep stops.

Now, the Archers move to 3-2 on the season a game ahead of the field with a valuable +2 scoring differential that positions them well to earn a bye in the 2024 Cash App Playoffs.

Up next for Utah: vs. California Redwoods (Saturday, July 20, 5:30 p.m. ET)

Adam Lamberti: Archers offense too much for the Whipsnakes

It was only a matter of time before the Archers offense came alive. Unfortunately for the Whipsnakes, it happened to be Saturday.

After recording nine goals in each of their last two games, the Archers put up 16 against the Whipsnakes, highlighted by Fields’ incredible tally.

The Whipsnakes had a subpar lacrosse game, and you can’t have a subpar game in the Premier Lacrosse League and expect to win.

Offensively, the Whipsnakes shot a poor 24% and committed 21 turnovers. That’s not going to win ballgames.

Defensively, the Archers’ offensive firepower was just too much. As Zach pointed out, the Archers scored 12 unassisted goals. That’s a lot.

Moving forward, look for the Whipsnakes to stick to their lineup. After all, this team beat the top-seeded New York Atlas last week.

However, I wouldn’t mind seeing them reach into the player pool for some defensive help, specifically at the short-stick defensive midfielder position.

Up next for Maryland: vs. Carolina Chaos (Friday, July 19, 8:30 p.m. ET)

Boston Cannons 14, Philadelphia Waterdogs 10

Sarah Griffin: A hometown crowd energizes the Cannons to a homecoming victory

It didn’t start off pretty, but it sure did end nicely.

After the Waterdogs took a commanding 7-2 lead to start the game, things were looking dreary for the hometown Cannons. Coming off a loss Friday night to the Redwoods, they wanted to give the crowd at Harvard Stadium something to celebrate on Saturday.

In the first half, the Cannons offense couldn’t find its flow and continuously made little mistakes that the Waterdogs defense capitalized on with ease. Defensively, Boston had no answer for Michael Sowers and Kieran McArdle. But in the second half, the Boom Squad came alive.

Head coach Brian Holman said he didn’t have any inspiring, revolutionary words for his team at halftime to revive them for the second half — they had all the motivation they needed. The Cannons simply did what good teams do and made adjustments that paid dividends in the third and fourth quarters.

A two-pointer from Marcus Holman to open the third quarter after a couple huge saves from Colin Kirst to push the ball into transition got the momentum going and, as Coach Holman said, “the offense flowing.”

Three straight goals from the Waterdogs might’ve slowed Boston’s roll a bit, but the Cannons responded in the best way possible: a 7-0 run to end the game.

After being left off the roster in Minneapolis, Matt Kavanagh gave a signature Matt Kavanagh performance with five points, leading the Cannons in goals with three.

Both Kavanagh and Jeff Trainor agreed there was absolutely a home-field advantage for the Cannons.

“We wanted to show out for the hometown crowd,” said Trainor.

An electric atmosphere combined with a 7-0 run led to the Cannons’ second win of the season over the Waterdogs. The boys in red, white and blue made sure to give their fans plenty to cheer about.

Up next for Boston: vs. New York Atlas (Saturday, July 20, 3 p.m. ET)

Wyatt Miller: Waterdogs offense falls flat in second half

After the dynamic duo of Sowers and McArdle set the field on fire in the first half, the offense went completely stale in the second. Philadelphia was held scoreless in the game’s final 16:33 while the Cannons went on a 7-0 run to complete a comeback victory.

The Waterdogs went 0-for-11 shooting to end the game, with Sowers on the sideline for much of the fourth quarter due to an injury. But even with Sowers on the field, the Dogs lost themselves down the stretch, trying to force shots and committing crucial errors. They committed as many turnovers in the fourth quarter (five) as they did in the entire first half, and all were unforced.

Early on, Sowers and McArdle were rolling, as they usually are against the Cannons. They scored or assisted on six of seven first-half points and consistently beat their one-on-one matchups with Bryce Young and Garrett Epple. Then, the Cannons adjusted.

“When Michael goes and beats his man a couple of times, they are going to adjust,” Waterdogs coach Bill Tierney said. “They slid to him earlier and made it harder for Kieran to get the ball. When teams do that to those two players, we have to get more from our midfield.”

Connor Kelly and Jack Hannah were the bright spots coming out of the box, each with two points. Hannah secured a massive caused turnover on a first-half ride to set up an unassisted score from Kelly before he got on the scoreboard himself. But that was where the scoring ended from the midfield. Ryan Conrad went 0-for-5 while Zach Currier shot 0-for-3 in a substandard performance from one of the deepest midfield units in the league.

“It’s tough to see (Sowers) go down, but it’s just a next-man-up mentality,” Kelly said. “I don’t think we lose confidence in our offense, but we just go to other guys.”

That approach didn’t pay dividends in the rivalry game, as the Waterdogs dropped their second game against the Cannons this season to fall to 1-4. They’ll have the All-Star break to regroup and think about how to reestablish an offense that has fallen short of expectations thus far.

Up next for Philadelphia: vs. Denver Outlaws (Friday, July 19, 6 p.m. ET)