PLL Semifinals: Why You Should Watch
The Premier Lacrosse League’s semifinal matchups are in place heading into this weekend. The top seeded Archers, after earning a first round bye, will square off against 4th seeded Redwoods who defeated the mercurial Chaos 15-9 in Boston this past weekend. Waterdogs (15-12 over Whipsnakes) and Cannons (20-11 over Atlas) will square off in the other semifinal matchup as the #2 and #3 seeds. It has been all chalk across the board, but that’s the best thing the league could’ve asked for at this point.
The bottom half of the PLL was pretty rough in terms of watchability this past season. Teams like Whipsnakes and Chaos had some fun games, especially against each other, but it was always clear they were a tier below. Even Redwoods, who have been through a tumultuous regular season campaign, feel like the red headed step-child of the semifinals. The last time they played Archers they were thoroughly dominated, going over 2.5 quarters without scoring a goal to finish the game. I expect a good fight out of them, but it feels like Archers cruise once again (although, knowing how my fandoms work, they’ll come out and totally lay an egg, breaking my heart once again).
One last quick note: any game involving Ryder Garnsey can get chippy, so if you’re interested in the possibility of a good scrap, make sure to tune in.
The marquee of the weekend is Waterdogs v. Cannons. The last time these two played was the first time we watched two of the top-tier teams that elect to punt on winning faceoffs go head-to-head. Cannons won that matchup 12-8, and I have to admit the game felt really disjointed. Waterdogs won a ton of faceoffs, which sounds good in theory, but working with a 32 second shot clock was so foreign due to lack of practice with it that the offense could never find a good rhythm. On the other side, Cannons were faced with one of the most efficient defenses headlined by all-world goalie Dillon Ward.
This game isn’t a clash of styles; it’s two styles that are eerily similar to each other coming together and fighting over who has to take on the one responsibility neither side wants, winning faceoffs. It’s going to be fascinating to see if Andy Copeland and company stick with Zach Currier on the stripe, knowing that their offensive flow is built to win off defense transitioning to offense over a clean faceoff win. Cannons have made it very clear that they will do whatever they can to give their opponents the 32 second clock, but can their high-powered offense figure out easier ways to crack a stout defensive unit?
This game is going to go one of two ways: it’s either going to be an absolute onslaught of offense or an ugly rock fight from start to finish. There’s really no room for anything else based on how these teams play. So my (future) in-laws will have to forgive me as I promptly ignore them starting at 3 Eastern while on our way home from a wedding this Sunday. It’s playoffs, and it’s going to be great.