The first game of the PLL’s first-round playoff tripleheader in Boston pit #4 seed Redwoods (6-4) against #5 seed Chaos (5-5). The teams split two games in the regular season, with Redwoods winning 13-8 in Week 4, and Chaos getting payback in Week 8, 14-12. Prior to the game, much was made of the need for Redwoods to have a balanced attack. While Rob Pannell and Ryder Garnsey were held to no goals, Wes Berg more than made up for the offense, tying a PLL record with seven goals. Redwoods led by 10 at halftime en route to a dominant 15-9 victory. They will advance to face top-seeded Archers in the semifinals next week in Long Island.
Berg takes over with first-half sock trick
More than half of the first quarter elapsed before Josh Byrne opened the scoring for Chaos at the 6:33 mark. But what looked to be a low-scoring defensive battle exploded in the last two minutes of the quarter. Berg (10:13; assisted by Romar Dennis) tied it up, then Cole Kirst (10:50) scored the only two-point goal of the game, putting Redwoods up 3-1. Ryan Smith trimmed the lead to one with 23 seconds remaining, but Owen Grant scored 10 seconds later for Redwoods. On the following faceoff, Rob Pannell fired a shot from near the center line. Chaos goalie Blaze Riorden made the save, but Berg was situated right on the doorstep and batted the rebound home at 11:57 for a 5-2 lead after one quarter of play.
Redwoods’ momentum continued into the second quarter, as they reeled off seven more goals for a nine-goal run. Charlie Bertrand made it 6-2 with a behind the back shot at 2:53. Berg then tallied three more goals (3:46; 4:50; 5:34) to extend the lead to 9-2. Jules Heningburg buried a feed from Romar Dennis (6:47) before Berg struck for his sock trick goal (7:34). Finally, Heningburg’s second (9:24) gave Redwoods a ten-goal lead, 12-2. Byrne’s second goal (11:17) broke the run, but Charlie Bertrand scored again just before the buzzer (11:55) to make it 13-3 at halftime.
Berg, Redwoods win fourth straight to move on to semis
Chaos opened the second half on a three-goal run. Markers from Chris Cloutier (1:40), Dhane Smith (1:56), and Brian Minicus (6:09) narrowed the margin to 13-6. However, head coach Nat St. Laurent’s decision to dress three longpole defenders for the game paid off, as the Redwoods defense stifled the transition game of Chaos. This tactic more often than not forced Chaos into 6-on-6 play, which is not their preferred style of generating offense.
Berg struck again at 7:12, scoring his seventh goal of the game, which tied a PLL record for goals by a single player in a game. As a result, Chaos trailed by eight heading into the final frame. Cloutier notched a power play goal (2:37), but Dennis would answer for Redwoods at 7:12 to maintain the eight-point margin. All Chaos could manage was Byrne’s hat trick goal (10:00) and Ryan Smith’s second (11:51), even as Redwoods goalie Jack Kelly was lifted in the fourth quarter for Tim Troutner.
Other Stats of Note
Jack Kelly (Redwoods): 20 saves, 71.4 save %
Jules Heningburg/Charlie Bertrand (Redwoods): 2g, 1a each
Josh Byrne (Chaos): 3g, 1a
Nick Rowlett (Chaos): 14 of 26 on faceoffs; 9 Ground Balls (led all players)
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“Muffler” Mike Kostiuk was formally introduced to box lacrosse when he attended a New England Black Wolves game on a whim in 2016. Instantly hooked, he has since become an avid follower of the National Lacrosse League. Following the postponement of the 2019-2020 NLL season, he was offered the chance to share his wealth of statistical knowledge and unique insights with the lacrosse community at large. He cheerfully accepted, and currently serves as Edge of Philly’s correspondent for both the Albany FireWolves and New York Riptide.