Photo courtesy of Nick Ieradi

Whipsnakes Fall in Quarterfinals to Waterdogs

By Adam Lamberti

Sep 6, 2023

The Whipsnakes season has ended following a 15-12 loss in the quarterfinals to the Waterdogs on Monday.

It’s the first time in the PLL’s history that the Whipsnakes have failed to reach the semifinals.

“I think we really beat ourselves. I don't think some of these teams are that much better than us, but, you know, we kill ourselves we make little mistakes and it’s little details and especially in this game, and how competitive it is now, the margin of error is just so much smaller,” said LSM Michael Ehrhardt.

Close losses have been the story of the Whipsnakes this season. 5 of their 7 losses have been by three goals or less. 

Like clockwork, the Whipsnakes were in a close battle early on. Tucker Dordevic was the early initiator on offense, finishing with a hat trick and consistently beating his man to generate chances.

Goalie Kyle Bernlohr was pulled in the 2nd quarter after saving only 2 shots and allowing 10 goals. Backup Brian Phipps did an admirable job in relief, saving some surefire goals on his way to 5 saves.

But naturally, one would have to question Head Coach Jim Stagnitta’s handling of the starting goalie position after what happened on Monday. After all, Brendan Krebs had not only stepped up to the task of being the starter following Bernlohr’s injury, but was playing like one of the top goalies in the PLL before Bernlohr’s return last week.

And while Stagnitta decided to have Phipps as the backup to have “basically another coach” on the sideline, the decision to leave Krebs off of the gameday roster completely was puzzling, and may have cost the Whipsnakes. 

“Whether people think it’s the right decision or the wrong decision, it’s the one I made,” Stagnitta said.

In spite of below average goalie play from Bernlohr, the Whipsnakes were still locked into a 10-10 battle well into the 3rd quarter. But, like Ehrhardt mentioned, Whipsnakes mistakes allow the Waterdogs to pull away and take control of the game.

The bottom line was that the Whipsnakes just were not one of the best teams in the PLL this season. Despite recent successes, the Whipsnakes need to decide how to reconfigure their roster for next season.

“I think if you look at the bottom line week in and week out, it's hard to look at the body of work that we've put out there over the last five years and say that in any given area we improved this year,” Stagnitta said. “In fact, if there's a challenge and an issue, it's that we didn't.”

Locking in a top-3 draft pick should help, which ensures a bluechip attack prospect of Brennan O’Neill, Connor Shellenberger, or Pat Kavanagh.

“To maintain a level of consistency in success that we have had, you know, we talk about it all the time because it's so hard to continue to repeat and be successful because you assume that it's going to happen,” Stagnitta said. “You forget about the process and all the things that got you there.”

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