Waterdogs Fall to Archers

Waterdogs Fall to Archers After “Self-Inflicted Wounds” in The 4th

By Wyatt Miller

Jul 31, 2023

The Waterdogs have turned the ball over exactly 11 times in three-of-six games this season. Against the Archers, eight of the 11 were self-induced, which is the most from any of those games. 

Inside of three minutes, the Waterdogs threw away about a minute-and-half of potential offense thanks to two of those unforced turnovers. With such slim margins of victory and talent in this league, the final minutes are often infinitely more important than the rest of the game. But two Waterdogs’ giveaways kept the Archers in command late during the 19-18 shootout on ABC. 

On a 32-second possession for the Archers with just over a minute remaining, Mac O’Keefe’s laser from the top of the arc ricocheted off Tre Leclaire’s shoulder and spun out to the wing. Christian Scarpello beat both O’Keefe and Leclaire to the rebound before, inexplicably, running three full steps out of bounds. The blunder gave the Archers a full 52 seconds with just 1:19 left to play. 

With the possibility for multiple offensive possessions, the Waterdogs would’ve had a good chance to tie or win this game. Instead, their stop and clear exceeded the shot clock, and the prolonged ground ball battle left 18.2 seconds for the ‘Dogs to score. Zach Currier’s shot was saved, and they dropped the duel for first place.

“I can remember at least two and maybe three failed clears that we had,” said head coach Andy Copelan postgame. “I feel like at times we panicked or were a little casual and didn’t advance the ball fast enough.”

A lot went right for the Waterdogs early on, but everything that went wrong did so at the worst time. Prior to Scarpello’s error, the Waterdogs gave away another 30 seconds of crunch time offense. It started when Liam Byrnes couldn’t handle the transition pass and got trapped on the sideline. 

From there, Jake Higgins cradled it along the midfield stripe, but got hit by Latrell Harris on his pass to Jack Hannah. He couldn’t handle it, and the ball rolled toward the far sideline. Then, Cam Wyers saved it with an airborne heave over his shoulder, and the Archers stalled. 

“At times, we just had to drop in the middle of the field and that’s not going to end well for you with their skillset,” Copelan said. “Those self-inflicted wounds, especially against the Archers, didn’t bode well.”

The skillset Copelan is referring to is an abundance of shooters who can take advantage of numbers. So, although the Archers weren’t attacking in the final minutes, those gifts in transition were indicative of the entire game. Winning the ball with a shorter field, whether it was on a turnover or a forward faceoff, led to multiple scores and put the Waterdogs on their heels.

In the end, the Archers’ league-leading 32-second offense prevailed over the ‘Dogs’ top 32-second defense. And, while the four-person short stick unit has typically provided a late boost, the Archers wore them out completely.

“I think there were a few windows where it was just make-it-take-it, and they wore our defense down and we had some tired guys out there, which we really hadn’t seen up to this point,” Copelan said.

The Waterdogs have now tied the record for points in a PLL game twice this season with the same score (19-18). But this time, they were on the losing side of the shootout, for the same reason they beat Atlas last time: capitalizing on unnecessary turnovers. Connor Kelly’s game-winner against Atlas came directly off an unforced error, which is what let the Archers waste the game away on Sunday. 

The saying, “what goes around comes,” seems appropriate here.

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