Premier Lacrosse League Whipsnakes takes on the Cannons at Fifth Third Bank Stadium at Kennesaw State University in Atlanta, Georgia on June 12, 2021.

Whipsnakes survive Cannons, 15-14 in overtime, to continue victory tour

By Lauren Merola | Jun 12, 2021

Premier Lacrosse League’s national TV debut did not disappoint: The Cannons fought their way back from an 8-4 halftime deficit and took the reigning champs to sudden-death overtime.

John Haus let it rip on the run between the legs of Nick Marrocco one minute into overtime to secure the 15-14 victory and the Whipsnakes’ tenth consecutive win.

“We always love John Haus with a shorty on him,” Jim Stagnitta said. “He came through for us.”

Reece Eddy intercepted a Whipsnakes pass that led to a smooth, downfield transition finding Andrew Kew alone on the lower left wing. Kew slung it between the legs of Kyle Bernlohr to equalize the score at 14 with 46 seconds left to play.

Zed Williams then countered with a strong top-right shot that Marrocco saved. Bernlohr responded with a Thompson-back-hand save to send the game into overtime. Both goalies felt the ice in their veins. Marrocco came up with 16 saves and Bernlohr 21.

The Whipsnakes’ last loss was in 2019.

Michael Ehrhardt credits the Whipsnakes success to trust.

“The biggest thing for us is trust,” Ehrhardt said. “We trust each other, and we got a great faceoff guy, best in the league in Joe Nardella. We trust that he's going to get the ball along with our wing play. God forbid we lose it; we have a great defense that we trust.”

After a slow start, the Whipsnakes went on an 8-1 run and owned the first half.

“We trust each other,” Joe Nardella said. “Everyone’s competing for every ground ball. We’re going to back up shots. It’s those details that build that trust.” 

Drew Simoneau came out the gate with two faceoff wins and momentum for the Cannons, which unloaded the same number of shots (15) on Kyle Bernlohr in the first half than he saw in all of Week 1. A scrappy rebound-goal from Jay Carlson to equalize the game at 2 would light a match under the Whipsnakes the Cannons couldn’t put out.

The Cannons didn’t make it easy on themselves, either. The Boom Squad served four penalties in a half of undisciplined defense and were out-scrapped on groundballs. Thompson was quiet and Andrew Kew missed an empty-net shot with minutes left in the half that could’ve brought the game within two possessions.

In the second half, that all changed.

“We went into the locker room and these guys set the score to 0-0 going into the second half,” Cannons LC head coach Sean Quirk said. “The biggest thing was just playing with a lot more consistency and a little more composure on both sides of the ball.” 

The Cannons came up with rebounds and fought for the ground balls.

“We did a better job cleaning up defense in the second half,” Quirk said. “The game plan going into it was to play great team defense, a lot of communication and win one-on-one matchups.”

The third quarter was dominated by offense. Paul Rabil and Lyle Thompson put in one apiece to close the gap 8-6. Zed Williams then responded with two of his own in eight seconds to claw it open to 10-6.

Ryan Drenner trickled it in for his second lefty goal of the game and Thompson ripped it mid-shelf to bring the game back within two. Then again to bring the Cannons within one. Thompson scored three goals in the third and four goals on the day. Drenner added a hat trick. 

The second half was a back-and-forth matchup. Williams responded – again – with two back-to-back goals before Deemer Class ripped a two-bomb to make it 13-12. Williams responded – again, again – with a top-shelf rip to open it back up at 14-12. Stephen Rehfuss brought it within one. 

The Whipsnakes had six players put one in net and the Cannons five.

Rabil finished with two goals and one assist.

“Paul [Rabil] is playing at the top of his game right now,” Ehrhardt said. “He’s a menace on the field and a tough cover and obviously you got Lyle [Thompson] down there. Our defense stuck with it and Kyle [Bernlohr] made some great saves and we trusted each other.”

It was a hard-fought battle, but the Whipsnakes stay on top.

“For us, not that it’s easy, but it’s familiar territory,” Nardella said. “We’ve been in some stressful situations with this group before and we’ve come through.”

Despite the Cannons’ loss, two-time Super Bowl champion Chris Hogan is excited for the future with his new franchise. In his Premier League Lacrosse debut, Hogan wrote “Undrafted” on his gloves: A reminder of how he got to both the NFL and PLL. 

“I've been looking forward to this opportunity to be out there and trying to compete and help our team try to find a way to win games,” Hogan said. “There’s not one guy in that locker room holding his head down. We held our heads high walking off that field. We fought until the last second.”

The Whipsnakes look to continue the victory tour on June 25 against Atlas.

The Cannons try to get back to .500 on June 27 against Atlas.

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