The Premier Lacrosse League Championship Series rolled on in Utah on Wednesday night as the Redwoods and Chaos renewed their rivalry from the 2019 playoffs. The matchup promised playoff intensity as both teams entered the game winless.
The Redwoods found out prior to the game they’d be without defensive star Garrett Epple who was suspended one game. Redwoods’ coach Nat St Laurent downplayed Epple’s absence saying, “We play team defence … it doesn’t change who we are.” His confidence was a sign of things to come as his Redwoods secured their first win, in the lowest scoring game in PLL history, 8-7 in overtime.
Both defences were stellar in the first half, including their netminders, Tim Troutner of the Redwoods and Blaze Riorden of the Chaos. Andy Towers praised Riorden saying, “I think he’s the best goalie on the planet.” His first quarter showed it as, for the second time in the series, the Chaos shut out an opponent for an entire fifteen minutes.
Josh Byrne and Curtis Dickson netted goals twenty-five seconds apart to lead the Chaos to a 2-0 score after the first quarter.
The Redwoods’ Clarke Petterson would complete a transition goal after a lengthy defensive stand midway through the second. Dickson found Connor Fields through a maze of players, and he’d restore the two goal cushion, 3-1 at the half, the lowest scoring half in PLL history.
Undermanned or not, St Laurent praised his team’s defensive effort saying, “Our defence is standing tall. They’re outstanding” while also commenting “This is Redwoods/Chaos lacrosse. The tough plays are going to win this game.”
Former member of Chaos Myles Jones was kept silent in the first half. However, with Tyson Bell serving a one-minute slashing penalty Jones cut through the middle to spark the second half offense. The king of the two-pointer, Sergio Perkovic, who scored two a day earlier, added yet another to his growing tally and handed the Redwoods their first lead. It grew to 5-3 before the end of the quarter when Ryder Garnsey caught Josh Byrne on a mismatch behind the net.
Fans of offense, and the 23.5 Over, looked like their wishes may come true in the fourth quarter as Brendan Gleason continued the Redwoods’ run six seconds following the faceoff. After a Chaos win on the ensuing draw, it was Jake Froccaro answering 20 seconds later. It took over nine minutes for another goal as the defences and netminders continued their hot nights.
Despite the three points on the evening for Myles Jones, he did miss a few passes up top. One such resulted in a Mark Glicini interception and transition opportunity, finished by Josh Byrne, his second goal off three shots.
With the Chaos trailing by one, they surrendered back to back one minute penalties, the second of which was a slashing call to Austin Staats. The Redwoods defenders paid attention to Jones up top, opening room for Joe Walters to receive a pass and score from just inside the two-point line, three seconds shy of the end of the man advantage.
Ninety seconds from their second loss of the series, Chaos confused the Redwoods defence with a line change. Troy Reh became the beneficiary as his outside shot scored a two-pointer to tie the game at seven.
Chaos continued to push, looking for the go ahead goal, but as Connor Fields shot trying to beat the clock, the play was reviewed. Nat St Laurent’s challenge overturned the call, and gave the Redwoods the ball. As they crossed mid-field to call timeout, they were called for offside. The final possession for Chaos resulted in a wide shot, and the game went to overtime.
Off a play clock turnover forced by the Redwoods’ defenders, their offence tried to setup. However, another dropped pass by Jones turned into transition the other way. Curtis Dickson broke in with room and speed, seemingly about to end the game, but it was Troutner making a spectacular kick save to preserve the tie.
Back the other way the Redwoods’ attack once again went to Jones. This time the pass was clean. He found Garnsey down low, a quick dodge and the Redwoods won their first game of the Series. Garnsey spoke to the importance of the initial victory following the game, “it’s big for sure. We needed that one.”
The Chaos move to 0-2, facing the Whipsnakes on Friday, whilst the Redwoods now earn two full days off drawing the Atlas on Saturday.