Waterdogs vs. Atlas: Matchup Preview
By Marisa Ingemi | Jul 25, 2020
The first game in Waterdogs' history happens in the bubble.
The PLL’s newest expansion club kicks off their own history on Sunday when they face off with Atlas -- a hungry team in their own right.
In their first-ever appearance, the Waterdogs will want to make a first impression, while Atlas is looking to improve upon a .500 campaign a season ago.
The challenge for both teams? Battling the adrenaline and playing a clean game.
Rob Pannell is the big get for the entire league, and he’ll make his PLL debut suiting up with the Atlas. One of the most prolific players in pro lacrosse of the last decade, Pannell will reshape what the Atlas offense looks like.
Atlas also added Romar Dennis in the midfield via trade, while top draft selection Bryan Costabile has already made a big impression according to head coach Ben Rubeor.
Losing Kieran McArdle to Waterdogs via the Expansion Draft is a big blow, but Pannell’s presence should make up that difference. The right-handed heavy attack unit is worth watching though, to see if they have that cohesion.
The Waterdogs field an entirely new club, leaving Head Coach Andy Copelan with the challenge of meshing that roster into a team in time for the tournament.
Three of those new players come from the Atlas in the form of McArdle, midfielder Steven DeNapoli, and LSM Noah Richard.
McArdle netted 30 points for Atlas a season ago; that’s solid point production for someone expected to lead an expansion team offense.
It feels like every matchup over the course of the tournament could be an excellent FOGO match, but a faceoff between Trevor Baptiste and Jake Withers has to rank among the most fascinating.
Drew Simoneau and his 43.75 percentage from a year ago will also be in the mix for the Waterdogs, but for Withers’ PLL debut, he could be challenged from the start,
Atlas’ Baptiste led the league with a 63 percent faceoff percentage a season ago and has been widely regarded as a top faceoff man in the sport.
Withers is new to the PLL but has gotten off to a dominant start as a pro lacrosse player in the indoor NLL, following a prolific career at Ohio State.
It’s quite the first test for Withers to start off his PLL career, but a win on the first draw on Sunday and he earns the Waterdogs first-ever possession.
Thanks to DraftKings, fans will now have the opportunity to bet on PLL games throughout the Championship Series.
Atlas enters their first contest 1.5 point favorites against the expansion Waterdogs with a 28.5 O/U. There’s a lot of offensive potential for both teams, so a 15-14 score is a solid bet.
This is the Waterdogs first game ever, so adrenaline is going to be running high. Some of that can be a good thing, but for a team that’s had just a week to get some chemistry, that could result in sloppy lacrosse if it’s not reeled in.
Atlas faces a similar dilemma; it’s their first game of the season, too, and they’re going to want to prove they’ve made a leap since a season ago.
If both clubs can keep their cool early, it could be a great battle of hungry squads looking to prove they can compete.
Be sure to tune in on July 26 at 4PM ET on NBC to see how this one turns outs.