“Muffler” Mike Kostiuk – All Lacrosse All The Time, a Division of the Edge of Philly Sports Network

The first of two PLL semifinal games this weekend in Washington, D.C. pitted #5 seed Waterdogs against #1 seed Whipsnakes. Waterdogs came in after an upset performance against #4 seed Atlas in the quarterfinals last week. As the top seed, Whipsnakes had an automatic bye into the semifinals; however, their only loss of the regular season was to Waterdogs. Despite several injuries and a two-goal halftime deficit, Waterdogs rallied behind a fourth-quarter hat trick from Kieran McArdle to upset the Whipsnakes 11-10. Waterdogs advance to next week’s Championship game, where they will face the winner of the other semifinal between Archers and Chaos.

Whipsnakes hold the edge after first half

Michael Sowers gave Waterdogs a 2-0 lead with markers at 0:52 and 4:32 of the first quarter. Brad Smith (6:01) and Mike Chanenchuk (7:42) equalized for Whipsnakes to tie the game after the first frame. Connor Kirst gave the Whips their first lead of the game 1:45 into the second quarter. Sowers would notch his hat trick at 2:08 to tie the game at 3-3. Jay Carlson (5:18) and Ethan Walker (6:21) would trade goals for Whipsnakes and Waterdogs before Jake Bernhardt (10:18) and Zed Williams (11:03) gave the Whips a 6-4 halftime lead. More bad news would come to Waterdogs, as Sowers strained a hamstring (he would continue to play with limited mobility) and midfielder Mikie Schlosser would suffer a lower body injury, being ruled out for the rest of the game.

Waterdogs dig deep in second half

Waterdogs came out firing to start the second half, with Zach Currier scoring just eight seconds into the third quarter to cut the deficit to one. Matt Rambo (5:49) restored the Whipsnakes’ two-goal lead, but Walker’s second of the game (7:22; assisted by McArdle) and a marker from Ryan Conrad at 11:26 would tie the game at 7 going into the final 12 minutes of play.

Rambo (1:31) put the Whips back on top, but McArdle would equalize with his first goal just under a minute later (2:29). Zed Williams (2:52) and Brad Smith’s second of the game (3:28) gave Whipsnakes yet another two-goal lead, but they would be shut out the rest of the way. McArdle tallied his second at 5:09, assisted by Connor Kelly, to close the gap to 10-9. Waterdogs then tied the game on defenseman Matt Whitcher’s first goal of the season (8:13). McArdle would then tally his hat trick (10:31; assisted by Walker), giving the Waterdogs the lead for good.

Other Stats of Note

  • McArdle/Sowers: 3g, 1a each
  • Michael Ehrhardt (Whipsnakes): 9 ground balls (led all players)
  • Joe Nardella (Whipsnakes): 13 of 24 on faceoffs, 2 ground balls
  • Dillon Ward (Waterdogs): 17 saves, 63% sv pct.

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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.