16x9_Game19_Matchup

Whipsnakes vs. Redwoods: Semifinals Preview

By Marisa Ingemi | Aug 5, 2020

In a battle to see who will play in the 2020 championship, Thursday’s semi-final between the Whipsnakes and Redwoods is a rematch of the 2019 championship.

The Whips are on a mission to repeat, winning all four of their group play games and doing so in dominant fashion. On the other side, the Redwoods are surging at the right time - winning their last three games.

The loser goes home, but the winner will be sitting pretty ahead of the Championship Game.


Breakdown

Last time out
In the first game of the tournament, the Whipsnakes took down the Redwoods 13-9, their first of four wins. 

These teams have plenty of history with each other and arguably know each other better than any other two squads. That sets up what could be one of the more intense matchups to date.

There’s a lot of intangibles that could negate some of the trends, especially in such a short tournament, but there’s a reason both teams have been on fire; they’ve earned this spot for a chance to play for the title game.

Major matchup
The Redwoods have made an identity as a two-point shooting club, leading the PLL with 10, five more than the next highest-ranking club.

They netted two of them the first time they faced the Whipsnakes, and against a team averaging more than 14 goals per game, they might need to kill two birds -- or, um, snakes -- with one stone more than once.

The Whipsnakes allow just 8.3 goals per game, and that’s a total of four two-pointers; that’s too much to ask for one game, but generating as many doubles as possible may be the key for the Woods to pull the upset of the tournament.

The Faceoff Dot
Everyone knows Joe Nardella has been absurd this Championship Series. The Whipsnakes FOGO has emerged as a leading MVP candidate, and that’s saying a lot for how many weapons that are producing for the first-place squad.

The Redwoods, meanwhile, have the second-lowest faceoff percentage of all seven teams at 37 percent. Faceoffs aren’t the end-all, be all; after two, two of the semi-finalist teams are the two lowest-ranking in that category.

With how dominant Nardella has been, and how the Whips have won every game, owning the possession game has a ton of value. There might not be a way to negate Nardella and the Whipsnakes, but at the least the Redwoods are going to have to make all their possessions count.


Ramifications

This one is simple; the winner goes to the title game. A year ago, these teams faced off for the title, and the Whipsnakes came out on top.

The Redwoods have an opportunity for revenge, and to do so in crushing fashion, sending home the most dominant team of the tournament prematurely while also earning a berth for the Championship Game.

That doesn’t mean it will be easy, and the Whips are still the top team for a reason. They have plenty of guys who weren’t there a year ago, too, and want a taste of victory.