They dubbed this weekend "The Biggest Weekend in PLL History," and it sure delivered.
Six high-octane games came and went in the PLL's Week 8. For the second time in the PLL's three-year existence, the circuit stopped at UAlbany's Casey Stadium - a beautiful stadium that certainly lived up to its expectations. The crowd was rocking, the mini-stick games were in full swing in the Premier Zone grounds, and the "pre-playoff" atmosphere was in the air.
A little night action from Tom & Mary Casey Stadium in Albany. Pic is mine.
I got to witness it all from the press box & the field. Let's take a look at some of the highlights from Week 8 of the PLL's 2021 circuit.
Cannons eliminate Chrome in a "win-or-go-home game"
Even though it was a matchup of two teams who were running up the rear in the standings (both entered at 2-6, tied for last-place), Cannons-Chrome was a near sold-out matchup on Saturday evening for obvious reasons. Sure, Paul Rabil suiting up for the Cannons is enough of an attraction for most fans, but there was far more riding on this one. LSM-goalie duo Joel White and Joey Galloway announced they'll retire upon the end of the Chrome's season, so this became quite literally a "win-or-go-home" scenario. White and Galloway have been playing together for 15 years - 10 professionally - and they jointly will hang up the cleats after their 13-10 loss to the Cannons meant their elimination from the playoffs. The Cannons used a 5-goal effort in the second quarter (outscoring Chrome's lone goal) to secure their spot in the first round of the playoffs next week in Salt Lake City.
CANNONS: Paul Rabil, 3g, 1 two-pointer, 1 assist, 57% shot percentage
CHROME: Colin Heacock, 4g on 10 shots
Archers top Whipsnakes in an overtime shootout
The regular season finale was a thriller, and left no stone unturned. It was all Archers for the first half; they jumped out to a 6-3 lead early, and took a 9-6 lead into the locker room. Penn State product Grant Ament and UMass alum Will Manny put on a show in the first 24 minutes. But the Whipsnakes didn't go down quietly. They came roaring back, outscoring the Archers 8-5 in the second half, forcing an overtime.
Then, Archers attacker and Albany alum Connor Fields stayed cool under pressure, and 6 minutes into the overtime period, he finished the job.
ARCHERS: Grant Ament, 3g, 1 assist, 60% shot percentage
WHIPSNAKES: Zed Williams, 4g on 13 shots
Waterdogs grab a clutch win over Atlas to secure top seed
I described Atlas to a few fans today as the Yankees of the PLL: always a powerhouse team with expectations for championships, always has the firepower to make it a shootout game. But the Waterdogs came and matched the Bulls' effort in this top-two matchup on Saturday.
It certainly looked early like the Atlas would be running away with it; they jumped to a 4-1 lead, and the offensive distribution was in their favor. But credit the Waterdogs' defensive pressure on rookie Jeff Teat, who was held to a single goal in the 4th quarter (credit where it's due, it was a behind-the-back goal...see it for yourself below!).
Mikie Schlosser tallied back-to-back goals to keep the 'Dogs momentum moving in the second half, and ultimately their balanced offensive attack proved to edge the Atlas defense. The Waterdogs secure the #1 seed and the lone bye in the PLL Playoff.
WATERDOGS: Mikie Schlosser, 3g (all in the second half)
ATLAS: Eric Law, 1g, 3 assists
UP NEXT: The PLL hits the road for Salt Lake City next week for Round 1, where we'll see every team in action except the Chrome (eliminated) and the Waterdogs (bye). As for everything else? Buckle your seatbelts...
#2 Atlas vs. #7 Cannons
#3 Archers vs. #6 Chaos
#4 Redwoods vs. #5 Whipsnakes