McArdle & Sowers Guide Waterdogs To Semifinals

Eduardo Curros – Field Reporter, All Lacrosse All The Time

The second game of the PLL’s quarterfinal playoff weekend saw #3 seed Waterdogs face off against #6 seed Whipsnakes. The teams met previously in Week 5, with Kieran McArdle and Michael Sowers combining for 10 points in a 16-13 Waterdogs victory. Unfortunately for Whipsnakes, the dynamic duo would not be stopped on this day either. McArdle and Sowers combined for 11 goals and 15 points as Waterdogs triumphed 15-12. The defending PLL champions advance to next week’s semifinals in Long Island where they will play #2 seed Cannons.

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McArdle gets hot as Waterdogs take slim first half lead

The Waterdogs opened the scoring at 1:05, with Sowers converting a masterful crease dive off a pass from Jack Hannah. Whipsnakes did not take long to respond as Zed Williams leveled the game at 1:36. The teams then alternated goals, with Tucker Dordevic scoring unassisted at 3:00 to give Whipsnakes the lead. McArdle tied the game at 6:04 off a pass from Michael Sowers. Mike Chanenchuk put the Whips back on top at 7:34, but McArdle’s second at 8:26 evened things up again. Dordevic added his second at 10:04 to give the Whipsnakes a temporary lead. Connor Kelly responded off a McArdle assist with 1:26 left. Matt Rambo put the Whips up again 24 seconds later but Zach Currier, assisted by McArdle, scored with 0:33 left to make it 5-5 after one quarter. 

Sowers drilled his second goal just 26 seconds into the second quarter to put Waterdogs in front 6-5. He then extended the lead with another goal at 2:46. Matt Whitcher followed at 3:23 to make it four straight Waterdogs goals and an 8-5 edge. However, Whipsnakes would rally again. A second goal from Williams at 3:48, and a goal from Jake Bernhardt at 4:20 cut the deficit to one. Sowers (4:43) and McArdle (5:40) each scored again to push the lead back to three. But goals from Jackson Morrill at 10:56 (assisted by Cole Kirst) and Will Manny with just four seconds left in the half made it 10-9 in favor of Waterdogs. 

McArdle stays hot in second half

Dordevic scored his hat trick goal at 2:15 of the third quarter to tie the game for the sixth and final time, 10-10. From there, it was all Waterdogs, with another four-goal run extending into the middle of the fourth quarter. Hannah scored at 4:17, and Sowers scored his fifth goal of the game at 8:54. McArdle scored his fourth goal with just one second left in the third quarter, then his fifth at 5:18 of the fourth quarter to put Waterdogs up 14-10. Brad Smith broke the run at 7:10, but Ethan Walker fed McArdle for his sock trick goal 32 seconds later. Chanenchuk added his second goal at 11:26 as a Whipsnakes season plagued by inconsistency came to an end.

Curros’s Corner

McArdle finished with six goals and two assists. Sowers had five goals and two assists, and Walker finished with three assists. At the faceoff dot, Petey LaSalla went 22 of 29 for Whipsnakes, while picking up 16 Ground Balls to lead all players. Kyle Bernlohr had a day to forget in goal for the Whips, surrendering 10 goals on just 12 Waterdogs shots. He was replaced by Brian Phipps in the second half. Both Matt Rambo and Will Manny were held to a single goal, and the Whipsnakes had just two total assists, while Waterdogs registered nine assists in the game.

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“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 currently serves as Edge of Philly’s correspondent for both the Albany FireWolves and New York Riptide.