Carolina Tops California to Stay Undefeated

Week 2 of the PLL kicked off in Charlotte with the first Homecoming game for the Carolina Chaos. They faced off against the California Redwoods, playing their first game of 2024 after a bye in Week 1. The big news was that top goaltender Blaze Riorden would not play for Carolina after injuring his knee in Week 1. Starting in net for the Chaos was Austin Kaut, who is one of only eight goaltenders to record 1,000 or more career saves in professional field lacrosse history (MLL/PLL).

In a game full of rallies, Carolina turned a 5-2 deficit into a 9-5 lead halfway through the third quarter. Then six unanswered points by Redwoods in a span of 2:12 had them trailing 11-9. But Kaut shut the door on California over the final 14 minutes of the game, and the lone fourth quarter goal scored by Tye Kurtz secured a 12-11 comeback win for the Chaos, who improve to 2-0.

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Carolina down but not out

Kyle Jackson got Carolina on the board first at 1:54. California responded with a three-goal run. Wes Berg (2:18), Rob Pannell (5:05), and the first career goal for #18 overall pick Garrett Degnon (7:33) gave Redwoods a 3-1 lead. Josh Byrne (9:19) cut the deficit to one for Carolina, but Berg’s second (10:08) kept Redwoods in front by two after the first quarter. Charlie Bertrand (2:51) opened the second quarter extending the lead to 5-2 before Carolina reeled off three straight goals. Jules Heningburg (4:05), #4 overall pick Shane Knobloch (5:09), and a second goal from Byrne (9:38) tied the game at 5-5 going into halftime.

Kurtz breaks tie for Carolina as Kaut shuts down Redwoods

Carolina continued their run from the end of the first half, scoring four more unanswered goals. Ross Scott (0:31), Jackson’s second (3:02), and back-to-back goals from Heningburg (4:59; 6:37) put Carolina up 9-5. California then found another gear, scoring five times in a span of 2:12 for six points. Pannell’s second (7:14) was followed eight seconds later by TD Ierlan scoring unassisted after winning the ensuing faceoff. Degnon potted his second (8:18), then Berg scored his hat-trick goal (8:54) to tie the game. Degnon followed with a 2-point bomb (9:26) to give Redwoods an 11-9 lead.

Tye Kurtz (9:32) and Heningburg with his fourth goal (11:52) leveled the game at 11 apiece going into the final frame. Kaut (16 saves) would shut the door on California’s offense in the fourth quarter. Kurtz scored his second goal at 5:02, and it would turn out to be the game-winner to keep Carolina undefeated and put them atop the Western Conference standings.

Other Stats of Note

TD Ierlan (California): 16 of 24 on faceoffs, 10 Ground Balls (led all players)

Rob Pannell (California): 2g, 2a

Jules Heningburg (Carolina): 4g

Josh Byrne (Carolina): 2g, 2a

Tye Kurtz (Carolina): 2g, 1a

“Muffler” Mike Kostiuk

“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 covers NLL, PLL, WLA, and Major Series Lacrosse for the network.