Waterdogs Seven Goal Run Not Enough to Take Down PLL Champs Archers 6/1/24

Courtesy of PLL

Di Miller, PLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©

Featured Image Photo Credit:  Courtesy of the PLL

Opening weekend started with a bang for the PLL and its fans.  They’d start out at Casey Stadium on the campus of U Albany, home of the New York Atlas.  The first two teams to start the weekend action off were none other than the defending Champions the Utah Archers (1-0) as they would go up against the 2022 Champions Philadelphia Waterdogs.    This was a game of runs as the Archers would get things going in the first with a five-goal run, four of which were unassisted.  The Waterdogs would make their seven-goal run a little less than four minutes into the third and would shut out the Archers for the remainder of the game, but missed opportunities in the final minutes would cost the Waterdogs the chance to take down the champs and they’d come away with their first loss on the season.  Final Score:  Archers 12—Waterdogs 11.

The Archers got it going 2:03 in when Connor Fields (4g) increased his angle, jumped, brought it back across his body and found the back of the net 1-0 Archers.  Grant Ament (3g) would be the next to score 3:57 in.  He rolled back to increase his angle, got underneath his defender and as he was falling, buried it down low 2-0 Archers.  It took almost three minutes before they’d score again.  Ament scored an almost identical goal to his previous tally.  He spun, got underneath his defender and put one past Dillon Ward with 4:46 left in the first and they took a quick 3-0 lead.  With 2:52 on the clock, Fields used his defender as a screen and as he rolled back, shot and found a tiny area between Ward and the pipe to put them up by four.  Fields would notch his first quarter hat trick off a feed from Tom Schreiber on the skip pass and he went low five hole with 2:05 on the ticker.  This was the first goal with an assist in the contest and the Archers had a five goal lead.  The Waterdogs would finally stop the run and get on the board with 29.3 seconds left in the first.  Ryan Conrad (1g) from just inside the two-point line, buried one down low to close out the first.  Score at the end of one:  Archers 5—Waterdogs 1.

It took 1:46 for the second to get going.  Mac O’Keefe (2g) was at the middle of the field, dodged to increase his angle and found twine down low 6-1 Archers.  Ament on the run down the alley, would notch his hat trick 19 seconds later with a low angle shot five-hole giving them a six-goal lead 7-1.  Less than a minute later, Michael Sowers was set up at X, found Kieran McArdle (1g, 1a) and he fired a low-to-low shot inside pipe 7-2.  Off the ensuing face off just 5 seconds later, Mike Sisselberg (1g) would win the draw headed to the rack and as he was falling down, wasted no time and fired on an unsuspecting Ward and the lead was once again six.  In the last 5:36, the Waterdogs were on a man up.  They used some beautiful ball movement, got the ball to Kelly and with one second left on the powerplay, he turned and buried it far side 8-3.  O’Keefe would tally his second just 23 seconds later with a bouncer directly in front of the cage and once again, the six-goal lead was in play.  Neither team could find the back of the net for the next five minutes.  As the clock was winding down, Matt Brandau (1g, 1a) would fire on the cage but it went wide, the Waterdogs retained possession, he grabbed the loose ball out in front, turned, fired over his left shoulder and hit top corner for his first career PLL goal with just 1.7 seconds left in the half. Score at the end of two:  Archers 9—Waterdogs 4.

Photo Courtesy of PLL

The third is when the Waterdogs found their feet.  Although the Archers got on the board first when Tom Schreiber (1g, 2a) would make his first shot of the day and it turned out to be a laser from the two-point line 8:53 in giving them their largest lead on the day 11-4.  Their final tally in the contest would come from Leclaire off a BTB pass from Schreiber, he stepped down and his overhand shot pinged the top corner 12-4.  Fourteen seconds later, the Waterdogs would flip the switch and went on a seven-goal run to close out the contest.  Matt Whitcher (2g) crashed the crease, spun and went outside top cheddar 12-5.  Less than three minutes later, the Archers had a miscommunication on defense, left Kelly all alone on the crease and he found the top corner with 5:21 left in the third and they had cut the lead in half 12-6.  Once again, the defense was stellar on both sides for almost four minutes.  But the Waterdogs weren’t done yet.  Ethan Walker (1g, 1a) got the rebound, spun and as he was falling down found a way to get it past Brett Dobson with 1:58 on the ticker and it was 12-7.  The final tally in the frame came with 51.5 seconds on the clock.  Brandau was set up at X and found Michael Sowers (1g, 2a) on the crease and he found twine.  Score at the end of three:  Archers 12—Waterdogs 8.

The fourth was all Waterdogs as they would shut out the Champs.  Eli Gobrecht was key in the first tally as he saved the over and back which set up the goal.  McArdle picked up the rebound and found Kelly cutting to the crease, he made a one-handed catch and finished right out in front 2:08 in and it was 12-9.  It took 38 seconds for them to strike again.  Jake Carraway (1g) was just outside the two-point line, stepped down inside the line and fired a high to low shot near pipe 12-10.  The final tally on the day came with 4:59 in the game.  Whitcher spun and buried it far side 12-11.  Unfortunately, the Waterdogs had missed chances in the last two minutes and were unable to find the back of the net again.  Final Score:  Archers 12—Waterdogs 11.

Utah Archers—SOG 20; Saves 22; Sv% .667%; FO 23-25; GB 40; TO 25
Philadelphia Waterdogs—SOG 35; Saves 8; Sv% .450%; FO 2-25; GB 25; TO 8

Stars of the Game:
Grant Ament—Utah Archers:  3g, 1a
Connor Kelly—Philadelphia Waterdogs: 3g
Brett Dobson—Utah Archers:  35SOG; 22 Saves; .667% Sv%


The Utah Archers (1-0) will face the Denver Outlaws (0-0)** on Friday June 7, 2024, at 8:30 p.m. EST at American Legion Memorial Stadium in Charlotte, NC.  The game will be televised on ESPN+.

The Philadelphia Waterdogs (0-1) have a bye-week and will be back in action when they return to their home field, Villanova Stadium in Villanova, PA for a double header weekend.  On Saturday June 15, 2024, they’ll host the Boston Cannons (0-1), gametime 12:30 p.m. EST.  Then on Sunday June 16, 2024, they’ll play their double header and host the Maryland Whipsnakes (0-0)**, game time 3:00 p.m. EST.  The game will be televised on ESPN+.

Di Miller, PLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©

**At the time of the article neither the Denver Outlaws nor Maryland Whipsnakes had played a game.