Top takeaways as Outlaws race past Redwoods, Waterdogs notch first victory

By PLL Beat Writers | Jun 29, 2024

Denver Outlaws 13, California Redwoods 8

Topher Adams: Denver’s defense is back, and Graham Bundy has arrived

Through two weeks, the Outlaws weren’t playing defense up to their standard. Over the bye weeks, that defense shook off all the early-season rust. The Redwoods were held scoreless for long periods of time -- including more than 20 minutes in the first half.

JT Giles-Harris shut down Rob Pannell all night, as Pannell went without a point for the first time in his PLL career. If it weren’t for a pair of Romar Dennis two-pointers, Denver’s defensive showing would have looked even more dominant.

Goalie Owen McElroy deserves plenty of praise for the defensive turnaround, as well. He made 11 saves (64.7%) to give the Outlaws a solid base between the pipes.

Offensively, Brennan O’Neill couldn’t recreate his show-stopping performance from Week 2, but he didn’t have to. Against a slide-happy Redwoods defense, the Outlaws moved the ball to open shooters. Graham Bundy Jr. was the biggest beneficiary of that open grass.

The second-round pick from Georgetown scored four goals, including a two-pointer. All of his goals were powerful outside step-downs to beat the rotating California defense. Even when O’Neill can’t get goals, Denver is finding ways to create dangerous offense.

Up next for Denver: vs. New York Atlas (Friday, July 5, 8:30 p.m. ET)

Jerome Taylor: California’s inconsistent offense keeps the Woods winless

It’s been the story of the season, and the Redwoods' inconsistent offense once again led to an L.

The Woods were held scoreless for 24:56, stretching through the first and second half. The offense had 21 turnovers. When the dust settled, the usual leader on the offensive side, Pannell, was held scoreless for the first time in the PLL (and the first time since 2014 as a professional).

Heading into the season, there were questions surrounding the defense. And they are still there. But the lack of efficiency on offense has been surprising and problematic since the start of the season, and there were few positive takeaways Friday night.

On the optimistic side, Dennis (four points) popped two two-pointers, which bodes well for his inclusion in the lineup moving forward. But there are still major questions surrounding how this offense gels moving forward.

As the only winless team in the Western Conference, the 0-3 Woods need to start finding answers to those questions before they take on the Cannons during Boston’s Homecoming Weekend.

Up next for California: vs. Boston Cannons (Friday, July 5, 6 p.m. ET)

Philadelphia Waterdogs 10, Carolina Chaos 6

Wyatt Miller: Dillon Ward, Jack Hannah lead Waterdogs to first win of Bill Tierney era

Boy, the Waterdogs sure did miss Jack Hannah. The third-year midfielder out of Denver utilized his unique creativity to revitalize the Waterdogs’ offense, leading Philadelphia to its first win of the 2024 season. The Waterdogs are now 7-0 against the Chaos all-time, and Bill Tierney earned his first victory as a professional head coach in a fitting defensive masterpiece.

Hannah, one of the best dodgers in the PLL, used a screen to get topside, beating the top goalie in the world off the bounce for his first goal of the season early in the second quarter. Later on, he created some deja vu for Waterdogs fans as he sniped a no-look skip pass across the formation and Connor Kelly finished high-to-high. He did the same thing last year on the field of his alma mater. The pressure he put on the Chaos out of the box made them bump a long pole up, and that made a significant difference for the Dogs’ offense.

“He had one of the best assists I’ve seen in a long time that I thought changed the game,” Tierney said. “But what he does to the other team is pushes another guy down so maybe [Ryan] Conrad or Kelly ends up with a short stick instead of a pole. I thought that had a huge impact on what happened here tonight.”

To cap it all off, Hannah beat Troy Reh’s long pole on a low-to-high sweeper two minutes later, giving the Waterdogs their first lead of the second half, which would only grow from there. Kieran McArdle was another bright spot, as he fought through a physical matchup with Jarrod Neumann to net two goals and three assists.

On the defensive end, goalie Dillon Ward shut down a Chaos offense that had averaged nearly 12 points per game coming in. Carolina only mustered half of that on Saturday night. Ward had his best game of the season by far, saving 12 of 18 shots (66.7%). He saved shots low and high, with his stick, body and leg. 

It was an absolute clinic from the master of the high arc, but it wasn’t without some help from the Waterdogs’ elite defensive unit. The defense caused eight turnovers, and the Chaos had 15 in total. Ward has historically gotten better as the season goes on, and this was his coming-out party for 2024. Opposing shooters beware, because when Ward is on, his high arc can cause… chaos.

Up next for Philadelphia: vs. Boston Cannons (Saturday, July 6, 7 p.m. ET)

Hayden Lewis: Offensive struggles lead to a third straight loss for Carolina

The Chaos have registered just 13 goals in their last 96 minutes of lacrosse. The offensive struggles have left the defense out to dry in the last two games. 

Brian Minicus was a redeeming sight on offense, recording three points (2G, 1A) on a meager nine touches. Minicus finding his game will help the offense find its footing as a unit. 

“I think one of our biggest problems right now is we’re too unselfish,” midfield Kyle Jackson said. “That’s a good problem to have. But the reality is, whoever becomes the best family and the closest family is going to win a championship.”

The offense only had two unassisted goals on the evening, and players had trouble creating their own looks off the dodge. 

“We want to score more goals, but there are also games that have more of a defensive flow, and there are games that have more offensive flow," head coach and general manager Andy Towers said.  

The Chaos have a two-week break with their bye next week and the All-Star break to follow that. It will be a great chance for the team to solve its offensive struggles. 

Up next for Carolina: Bye week