PLL: Archers find killer instinct against Waterdogs

Waterdogs’ Dan Eipp tries to stop Archers’ Tom Schreiber. (Photo credit: PLL)

Archers Lacrosse Club moved to 2-0 on the young PLL season after a 9-7 win over Waterdogs LC on Tuesday night at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah. The Waterdogs fell to 0-2 with the loss.

The Archers relied heavily on Adam Ghitelman, who took over in goal for Drew Adams at halftime. Ghitelman only gave up one goal in his 24 minutes of play.

“We have a lot of pride in how we play,” the goaltender told NBC’s Todd Harris after the game ended. “We want to get after ground balls, we want to be the tougher team, we want to play team lacrosse. We challenged each other to do that in the second half and we did that pretty consistently.”

In the first quarter the teams matched each other goal-for-goal. The Archers had to defend for almost the first five minutes of the game but managed to hold the Waterdogs to a single goal from Connor Kelly. The Waterdogs finally made an error, letting a ground ball bounce to half where BJ Grill was unable to stop it and Will Manny picked it up and fired it just inside the arc for a 1-1 tie. Dan Eipp and Ian MacKay traded goals before Kieran McArdle knocked the ball out Stephen Kelly’s stick for a goal off the caused turnover to give the Waterdogs a 3-2 lead.

Ryan Drenner scores a jump shot for Waterdogs. (Photo credit: PLL)

Christian Mazzone tied the game at three but that was the Archers’ only goal of the second. The Waterdogs, however, pushed the pace for a three-goal run to lead 6-3 at halftime. Ryan Drenner scored on a jump shot, Wes Berg passed to Ben McIntosh for a one-timer and Drew Snider scored on a behind-the-back shot that caught Adams, who had been facing a dangerous McArdle behind the net, mid-turn.

The Archers outscored the Waterdogs 4-0 in the third. Marcus Holman was left unguarded in front of Charlie Cipriano and beat him easily. Rookie Grant Ament continued his great play from the night before and potted a shot with one second left on the shot clock. Mazzone scored a second goal. Ament then made a BTB pass from behind the net to Tom Schreiber who was cutting quickly to the net. It was a veteran move that should make the highlight reels in the morning.

Ben McIntosh tied the game at seven in the fourth with a shot that Ghitelman probably wanted back. Schreiber scored the game winning goal with 2:12 left, beating an out-of-position Wes Berg. Scott Ratliff put the ball into a yawning cage with 30 seconds left for insurance. Ghitelman made 10 saves in the second half of the game.

Post-game, Schreiber told Harris he didn’t know why he was being interviewed when the Archers’ defense deserved the credit for the win.

“They shut ‘em down in the second half and [the Waterdogs are] a really good group. Our defense was awesome,” he praised. “This was a little ugly but we found a way to win and come playoff time that’s important.”

Schreiber said his team was flat in the first half, a sentiment echoed by Ghitelman and Ament in further interviews.

“The reality of this tournament is we’re gonna have to play when we’re a little fatigued and a little tired. Things got a little fiery in the locker room, and all positive, but we just need to up the intensity and start to have that sense of urgency and play with that killer instinct.”

Schreiber singled out both Mazzone, with two goals, and defender Matt McMahon for helping to turn the tide.

Both teams next face Chrome; the Archers on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. and the Waterdogs on Friday at 9:30 p.m. Both games are exclusive to NBC Gold subscribers.