PLL: Redwoods put league on notice; Whipsnakes hold off Chaos

Whipsnakes celebrate a goal against Chaos. (Photo credit: Premier Lacrosse League)

The second half of the Premier Lacrosse League season was underway this past weekend. Rafferty Stadium in Fairfield, CT was rocking as Saturday’s games were doozies, or “lit,” as the cool kids say. Are we cool? We must be.

The first game was Redwoods taking on Atlas. Atlas sat atop the standings at 4-1, while Redwoods were 1-4 with a little bit of work to do. In this one, Redwoods put the league on notice and pulled off the upset with a 16-15 nail-biter win.

Redwoods came out firing in the first quarter. A five-goal run should be the definition of a perfect start, right? Hold that thought. Jules Heningburg opened the scoring with a bang. Heningburg drove hard to the net and shot while getting rocked by goaltender Jack Concannon. The goal was reviewed and was deemed good as he stayed out of the crease and got the shot off before the shot clock expired. Charlie Bertrand notched the next goal for Redwoods. Ryder Garnsey popped two goals off in 20 seconds, and Matt Kavanagh added another. 5-0 Redwoods with 1:41 left in the first. Daniel Bucaro finally got Atlas on the board and that’s how the quarter would end.

Remember holding that thought? Here we go. Atlas were down 5-1 after one, and needed an answer. They exploded for eight goals in the second quarter. Bryan Costabile, Eric Law and Chris Gray notched the first three and all of a sudden it was 5-4. The dynamic Myles Jones got his first of the game, but was answered by a two-point bomb from Cade van Raaphorst. The next three were Atlas again. Craig Chick got his first, then Bucaro and Costabile each got their second, and Atlas had a 9-6 lead going into the half.

Atlas head coach Ben Rubeor commented at halftime about what worked well in the first half, despite the slow start.

“I thought we had a lot of goals, in kind of, these unsettled situations. I thought we rode really well and picked up some ground balls,” said Atlas head coach Ben Rubeor at halftime. Rubeor added that “this is a Redwoods team that obviously showed us in that first quarter what they’re made of.”

After two quarters, each dominated by the opposition, it felt very much like a boxing match. Round one to Redwoods; round two to Atlas. Who takes round three? Spoiler, it was a draw.

Each team scored three goals in the third. The first two were by Atlas, as Costabile got his hat trick and Gray got his second. While it seemed a bit slow, Atlas was pulling away, or so they thought. Sergio Perkovic took over for Redwoods with a one-pointer and on the ensuing faceoff, scoring a two-point bomb. Jeff Teat closed the quarter out with his first goal of the night, to give Atlas a 12-9 lead going into the fourth.

Boxing references are fun, so let’s stick with those. It’s the final round, players are running on fumes, so who takes the final round? Redwoods saved the best for last, outscoring Atlas 7-3 in the final frame. Bertrand got his second of the game to open the quarter, only to be answered by John Crawley. Rob Panell scored next for Redwoods to narrow the deficit to 13-11. Eddy Glazener scored his first of the season at the 6:09 mark with a two-pointer to tie it up for the first time since the second quarter. Teat and Bertrand traded goals to keep it tied. Maybe the biggest goal of the game was scored by Jones, who ripped a two-pointer and beat Concannon to give Redwoods the two-goal advantage they needed to ride this one out. Dox Aitken scored late goal for Atlas, but that would be it. Your final, 16-15 Redwoods. Whew, what a start to PLL week 7.

Players of the game for Atlas were Chris Gray (2+1), Costabile (three goals) and Teat (2+1). Concannon made 16 saves, for a 55% save percentage. He allowed three two-pointers, which proved to be crucial late in the game. As for the Redwoods, Perkovic and Jones each had four points, and Bertrand recorded a hat trick. Jack Kelly made 15 saves, for a 52% save percentage.

Redwoods head coach Nat St. Laurent was asked after the game to describe the euphoric energy on the sideline: “I can’t, I’m just so proud of our guys,” he boasted. “We’ve been to hell and back with this group. We talked about how Redwoods grow in the forest, and the branches grab a hold of each other so nothing breaks [them] down.”

Atlas drops to 4-2, as Redwoods creep up the standings, now sitting at 2-4.


The second game on the Saturday slate was no slouch either. The 4-1 Whipsnakes took on the 1-4 Chaos. Chaos comes in trying to get out of the basement in the standings and avenge a 9-8 opening week loss to the Whips.

Oddly enough, slow starts are a good thing for Chaos. Check this out. In 2020, Chaos started 0-4 and lost in the championship game. In 2021, they started 0-3 and won the league championship. This year, they’re sitting at 1-4, so we’ll see what happens the rest of the way. As for the Whipsnakes, they tried to continue their dynasty mentality, and they succeeded in this one. After Aaother nail biter of a game, Whipsnakes emerged victorious 14-12.

To the action we go. Whipsnakes outscored Chaos 5-3 in the first quarter. Keep that two-goal lead for the Whips in the back of your head, because that was the difference when the clock hit zero. Keegan Khan opened the scoring, only to be answered by Challen Rogers. The Whips rattled off three in a row: two by Matt Rambo and the other by Bryan Cole. Zed Williams and Chase Fraser traded goals, and Josh Byrne scored late to make it 5-3 after one.

Whipsnakes scored the first two goals of the second quarter. Justin Guterding and Mike Chanenchuk extended the lead to four. Fairfield’s own CJ Costabile scored his first and Byrne got his second to stop the Whips’ momentum. Boxing references are applicable here too, as each team had a counter punch for their opposition. Connor Kirst tallied his first for Whips, only to be answered by Mark Glicini. Tyler Warner scored next, only to be answered by Mac O’Keefe on the power play. This was quite the slobber-knocker. Whipsnakes led 9-7 at the half.

At the half, Whipsnakes head coach Jim Stagnitta said that “we’re doing some really good things on both sides of the ball. Certainly they’re (Chaos) talented, but I like how we’re playing our individual matchups.”

The third quarter was just as much of a stalemate as the second. Byrne tallied the hat trick to open the frame, only to be answered by Williams. Rogers got his second, but was answered by Rambo’s hat trick.

The Whipsnakes were up 11-9 going into the fourth. Chaos needed to break out, because seemingly Whips were doing everything they could to hold onto that two-goal lead from early in the game.

Chanechuk scored to open the fourth. The Buffalo Bandits pairing of Fraser and Cloutier scored the next two for Chaos so it was only a one-goal game. Devastating stuff for Chaos upcoming, as Joe Nardella and Khan scored two quick goals to give Whips a cushion again. Cloutier scored again with only four seconds remaining, but that would do it. Your final, 14-12 Whipsnakes.

Players of the game for Chaos were Byrne (3+1), Cloutier (2+1), and Fraser (2+1). League leader in saves Blaze Riorden did everything he could to keep Chaos in the game, making 15 saves, with a 52% save percentage. For the Whipsnakes, Rambo (3+1), Khan (2+1), and Williams (two goals) were the catalysts. Kyle Bernlohr struggled as far as his ratio was concerned, but stood tall late, making eight saves, with a 40% save percentage.

“We just have to play our own game”, said Rambo after the game. “Our defense played unbelievable. Kyle Bernlohr played out of his mind; we just tried to play Whipsnakes ball.”

Week 8 of the season is live from Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas next week. Saturday’s games are Archers/Atlas at 2 p.m. and Chrome/Whipsnakes at 4:30 p.m. Sunday’s are Waterdogs/Cannons at 1 p.m. and Redwoods/Chaos at 3:30 p.m. We’re getting closer to the finish line boys and girls. Hold on tight.