Under the lights of Georgia State Stadium and across America on NBCSN, fans were treated to another one-goal thriller as Atlas closes out the first half of the regular season with a 13-12 win over Archers.
In a night that saw five lead changes, no team led by more than three. After getting on the board first with a fast break goal from Kieran McArdle just 31 seconds into the game, Atlas quickly found themselves down three as Archers’ most recent addition, Michael Simon, buried a 2-pointer against his old team. The teams trade goals to close out the first quarter as Paul Rabil dodges the left alley and finds Eric Law on a backdoor cut, Stephen Kelly feeds Marcus Holman on a fast break, and Ryan Brown closes out the quarter after some jaw-dropping ball movement from Atlas. The Brown goal, initiated from behind the goal by John Crawley, is a strategy Head Coach John Paul will continue to utilize.
The two teams would continue to trade goals through the second quarter and Archers would take a two-goal lead into halftime. Head Coach John Paul’s message to Atlas at halftime: use the clock and value the ball. Despite winning 75% of face-offs in the first half, Atlas committed seven turnovers, allowing Archers’ to build on their first half lead.
The third quarter would belong to Atlas as they came out of halftime and went on a five to one run as Rabil found the back of the net twice, starting with a diving goal as the shot clock expired. With a two-goal lead, Atlas committed two penalties that gave Tom Schreiber and the Archers’ powerplay unit the opportunity to tie the game up going into the fourth.
To this point, seven of Atlas’ ten goals were assisted. That would change quickly as the fourth quarter was highlighted by three unassisted goals. Joel Tinney would be the beneficiary of an Archers’ defense reluctant to slide to his wing dodges. Tinney wouldn’t let Archers do what Whipsnakes did to Atlas last week and make a run in the fourth quarter. Each time Archers scored, Tinney answered with one of his own. The hero of the night was none other than John Crawley. After not being active for their game at Homewood Field, Crawley looked like a man on a mission, netting two unassisted goals when Archers held their slides and being the party starter when he drew a slide. With just under three minutes to go, Crawley took short stick defensive midfielder Nick Tintle to X, dodged to his right and wrapped one around Adam Ghitelman for the game winning goal.
After starting the season with a pair of wins, Archers look to Week 6 with hopes to end their three game losing streak. For Atlas, an inconsistent season leaves them at 2-3 with plenty to be happy about but even more to continue to work on.
With their playoff hopes still alive, both teams look ahead to the second half of the season to prove to the rest of the league that they are contenders for the inaugural Premier Lacrosse League championship.
The Archers take on the Redwoods next Saturday at 5pm EST at Audi Field.
The Atlas take on the Whipsnakes next Saturday at 8pm EST at Audi Field.