With each PLL team making Tuesday’s elimination round, it wasn’t actually necessary for a team to get any wins in group play.
Yeah, okay, I laughed out loud at that sentence, too. This is lacrosse – there’s so much pride on the line and passion for the game that no team would be content to just coast through and wait to strike in the playoffs.
But Chaos LC will have to be content with their 0-4 record because they can’t change it now. They head into the playoffs as the seventh seed after a 10-9 overtime loss to the Waterdogs, who also had been in danger of that 0-4 record. Instead, the Waterdogs get the momentum, finishing in fifth place by virtue of a better goal differential than sixth-place Atlas.
Zach Currier capped a great day just 1:17 into the extra frame, taking a pass from Steven DeNapoli and letting it fly into the top right corner. Currier, the first overall pick, left the Waterdogs’ first game 12 seconds in after a big leap into the goalie left him in concussion protocol for several days. He missed their second game and played a more defensive role in game three, but against Chaos he scored a hat trick.
“I rallied around my teammates and they rallied around me,” Currier said of his missed time.
It should surprise nobody that the PLL rookie was the one to score the winning goal. Currier’s been turning heads in box and field for years with his natural talent and quick, aggressive play.
“I was in a good spot,” he said. “If I missed that goal I’d be getting yelled at by all my coaches so I’m glad that one went in. We got the win and that’s what matters. It feels nice to get one before we try to make a run at this thing in the postseason.”
Connor Fields put Chaos on top early but a 2-pointer from Ryland Rees turned the tide. Connor Kelly deflected a shot in off teammate Wes Berg for a 3-1 lead. Sergio Salcido got one back for Chaos but the Waterdogs led 3-2 after the first.
Curtis Dickson tied the game at three, pushing through the defense to score an underhand goal shortly after he’d been hit in the head with the ball. Fields put Chaos back on top with a sidearm shot, and then Austin Staats scored his first PLL goal, knocking down a defender (he bounced!) before putting it in the back of the cage. Currier scored his first of the game with his teammates setting great picks before both Blaze Riorden and Matt DeLuca settled down and made some great saves to carry the game to halftime with Chaos up 5-4.
Dickson took more abuse throughout the game and each time it only fuelled him. Brodie Merrill landed a hard slash to Dickson’s wrist early in the third and Dickson retaliated with a low shot on goal to make it 6-4 Chaos. That was Chaos’ only goal of the frame, though, while the Waterdogs scored twice to tie the game at six. Christian Cuccinello scored on a one-armed underhand, and Ben McIntosh tied it with a jump shot.
Patrick Resch and McIntosh traded goals for a 7-7 tie in the fourth. Josh Byrne managed to score Chaos’ eighth goal while Kevin Buchanan kept the Waterdogs’ defenders busy. Currier tied the game at eight with an athletic crease dive. Cuccinello gave the Waterdogs a 9-8 lead with just 1:18 left to play. Nobody picked him up coming to the front of the net where he converted Kieran McArdle’s pass. The Waterdogs had some more late game trouble though, allowing Dhane Smith to walk right into the goal to tie the game once more with 6.7 seconds left.
“We had to learn how to win a game,” Currier said. “We lost the first game by two goals… same in the second game, we were up in the first half and lost by a goal and even last night we were down by a lot but we stormed back and had a chance to tie at the end of the game but made a little mental mistake.”
This was the eighth PLL game this season to be decided by a single goal.
Jake Withers and Drew Simoneau kept up their face-off dominance, winning 8/11 and 10/11 draws, respectively. DeLuca made 11 saves for the Waterdogs, and as a team they scooped 47 ground balls to Chaos’ 24, not an insignificant statistic.
Riorden almost equalled the save record he set last season, making 21 against the Waterdogs.