This past weekend the Premier Lacrosse League capped off a great season with a spectacular championship game, seeing the underdog team of Chaos defeat the two time Champion Whipsnakes in a rematch of last year’s final.
Both teams spent the majority of their season’s finding their way, finishing around the .500 mark (Whipsnakes 5-4, Chaos 4-5). When it counted most, these teams were able to find their mojo, team chemistry, as well as their “A” game, enroute to a spot in the championship game.
The Whipsnakes had a ferocious offense led by Zed Williams, Jay Carlson, Matt Rambo, and Brad Smith. With a seasoned faceoff man like Joey Nardella, they were set to control the ball for a good portion of this game.
Chaos was no pushover, having names that National Lacrosse League (NLL) fans would recognize right away. Josh Byrne, Chase Fraser, Chris Cloutier, and Dhane Smith all play for the Buffalo Bandits of NLL, so chemistry was not a factor, throw in PLL “Goaltender of the Year” Blaze Riordan (a former Bandit, now with the Philadelphia Wings) and the stage was set for a barnburner of a game.
Although the Whipsnakes got off to a quick start with Jay Carlson scoring early, some absolutely spectacular goals by Dhane Smith, Chase Fraser, Chris Cloutier, and Mac O’Keefe put Chaos in the driver’s seat after one quarter.
The Whipsnakes opened the second quarter with two quick goals to tie the game, but Chaos wouldn’t be denied. A howitzer from Dhane Smith, followed by another highlight reel goal by Josh Byrne, and it was a two goal game again. The teams exchanged one more goal each before halftime for an 8-6 Chaos lead.
The second half saw a stingy Chaos defense frustrate a potent Whipsnakes offense, only allowing three goals, while scoring six more of their own on way to hoisting the cup for the 2021 PLL Championship.
A Few Notes:
In my pregame notes, I had mentioned the faceoff mastery of Joey Nardella for the Whipsnakes. Max Adler was spectacular on faceoffs for Chaos, going 13 for 26 (50%), matching Nardella and giving many more possessions to Chaos than expected. My other mention was the goaltending of Blaze Riordan, who made 15 saves on 24 shots (63%), especially shutting the door on the Whipsnakes in the second half, not giving them a chance to gain momentum.
Everything this league and it’s partners have done all year has been first class, and this game was no exception. From great camera angles, to interesting insight from the booth and the sidelines, to another fantastic game played by the greatest lacrosse players. NBC Sportsnet and Peacock did a great job covering the game, which was yet another showcase to the world why lacrosse is the fastest game on two feet, played by some of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen.
With the NLL season just a few months away, and television, and social media deals in place for that league also, the world will get more chances to see how great a sport the Creator’s game really is, and why we love it so dearly. A great time to be a lacrosse fan indeed.