In the 30th and final game of the Premier Lacrosse League’s inaugural regular season, Archers looked to clinch a playoff berth with a win over Whipsnakes. Following an Atlas victory the night before and a dominating Redwoods performance earlier in the day, Archers would need a victory to be in the race for The Crown. Across from them, Whipsnakes had clinched a Top 2 playoff spot and were looking to continue to build momentum from their Week 9 17-4 victory over Redwoods and head into playoffs firing on all cylinders.
The Archers offense came out with a sense of urgency, dodging hard and executing as they jumped out to a 4-2 lead in the first quarter. Archers attacked the Whipsnakes’ short stick defensive midfielders and took advantage of their reluctance to slide. Marcus Holman, Christian Cuccinello, and Tom Schreiber all had success in the first quarter scoring unassisted goals. On the other end of the field, Matt Rambo attempted to keep pace with Archers as he netted two of his own unassisted goals, dodging All-Star defenseman Matt McMahon from both the left wing and X.
The second quarter belonged to Whipsnakes as they rattled off five consecutive goals and held Archers scoreless. After leaning on Rambo in the first quarter, Whipsnakes showed their offensive versatility, scoring in a multitude of ways. Connor Kelly and Ryan Drenner connected, for the second week in a row, on a goal as the shot clock expired. Three minutes later, Mike Chanenchuk stepped around a pick from John Haus and buried a two-pointer in the bottom right corner. On the next possession, Tim Muller scored his first of the season on an assist from Rambo in transition. Then, with just under two minutes to play in the half, Whipsnakes converted on a power play as Rambo skipped it through the formation to Kelly on the back post.
Archers responded to the Whipsnakes’ second quarter run by making a run of their own after halftime. Aided by penalties on Whipsnakes, Archers went on a 4-0 run in the third, holding Whipsnakes scoreless for the entire quarter. On the Archers’ first power play opportunity, Cuccinello threw a skip pass through to Holman, who caught it and dove across the face of the net to put Archers down two. Cuccinello would add a hockey assist later in the quarter as he drove from X, drew two defenders and moved the ball back to X to Joey Sankey. Sankey pushed the left side and found Will Manny, who converted his step down opportunity. With just seven seconds left in the penultimate period, Schreiber would convert on a two-point shot and put Archers up by one heading into the final quarter.
Archers added to their lead in the fourth quarter when Will Manny showed off his right hand as he dodged from X and wrapped one around Whipsnakes goaltender Kyle Bernlohr. Rambo would attempt to keep Whipsnakes in the game, finding John Haus on a cut as the Whipsnakes scored their first goal in 22 minutes of game time. However, Archers would answer and pull away for good as Manny completed his hat trick on what can only be described as an ABSOLUTE DIME from Schreiber as he dodged down the left alley. Schreiber, a natural right-hander, showed off his pin-point feeding ability as he dodged down the alley and found Manny on the backside of the offense. Schreiber would put Archers up 11-8, making it a two-possession game, as he dodged past both his man and the slide, finishing his hat trick and a six-point day with a twister to the far post.
As Archers offense hit their season average of 11 goals, their defense proved once again that they are the most dominant in the league, holding a Whipsnakes offense that averages nearly 13 goals a game to just eight. Drew Adams was the difference, racking up eight saves while only allowing one goal. Playing the second half of the last four games after a dominating performance in Week 6 against Redwoods, Adams has saved 64 percent of the shots he’s faced and has been the perfect left-handed complement to first-half Adam Ghitelman. In this game, Adams stood on his head, making big save after big save on the Archers’ way to a playoff berth
Archers will meet Redwoods in Columbus on September 6 to kick off the playoffs and a chance to go to the semifinals while Whipsnakes will play Chaos on September 7 for the chance to have a second-round bye and go straight to the championship.