PLL: Teat gets Atlas back on track

Atlas LC’ Jeff Teat in PLL action. (Photo: Premier Lacrosse League)

Death, taxes, Trevor Baptiste winning faceoffs, and Jeff Teat putting up ridiculous points. The true truths in life, and the Premier Lacrosse League. Teat registered eight points Saturday (four goals), Baptiste went 19 for 27 at the dot, and JD Colarusso (starting in net in place of injured Jack Concannon) made 10 saves (53 per cent) as the Atlas dominated Chaos 16-10.

Both teams entered the contest looking for back-to-back wins. Chaos looked like they would run away with this early when Dhane Smith found Chase Fraser in front of the net who converted a jump shot less than 90 seconds in. A pair of goals from Josh Byrne soon followed, the second coming shortly after an extended Atlas possession snuffed out by a pair of saves from Blaze Riorden, and a shot off the post.

They would not score again for over 20 minutes.

Chaos defenders lost track of more than one Atlas attackman on this night as Mark Cockerton, Eric Law and Jake Carraway (the latter on the man advantage) all circled to the crease from behind the net. Teat also finessed the ball in midway through what was a four-goal run at the time to end the first quarter 4-3 in favour of Atlas.

A back-and-forth second quarter only produced two goals – both from Atlas – thanks to goaltending from Blaze Riorden (11 saves in the half) and Colarusso. Colarusso made a kick save on a two-point attempt that would’ve closed the Chaos within one goal, and a stretch of three saves near the end of the frame including one point blank off Dhane Smith. Carraway converted his second of the game thanks to a beautiful pass from Teat, and Romar Dennis high stepped in transition to rip a shot just as a penalty to Mark Glicini was expiring. At one point in the quarter, Baptiste won nine straight faceoffs, stretching fellow drawman Max Adler’s drought to beyond 22 and a half minutes. Atlas led 6-3 at half.

The Atlas run continued in the third, stretching to 9-0 over 20 minutes with a long shot from Daniel Bucaro, Law’s second of the game, and a clean faceoff win turned fast-break goal for Baptiste. The Chaos drought ended after 23 minutes and 42 seconds when Mac O’Keefe broke from the change box untouched to put a rising sidearm shot past Colarusso. Troy Reh would score a second using every inch of his defensive stick to blast a bounce shot just under the bar.

The play of the game may have come from Teat on his second goal of the game. Scrambling, he was knocked down from behind, drawing a flag. He regained his feet just as a second defender was sliding over. Teat turned, broke through both defenders, went to the net and scored. The quarter ended with a two-pointer from CJ Costabile – a play in which all three long poles touched the ball in transition. All of a sudden, Chaos clawed back to within three, 10-7 after three.

Bucaro’s second of the game, 40 seconds into the fourth, came with two Atlas players behind the net. One defender fell, allowing Bucaro to work to the crease for a spinning shot. Chaos would not go away quietly. Smith bounced a shot from just inside the two-point line after swimming past his defender. Riorden got the crowd going when he intercepted and carried the ball over center (shades of Albany!) but passed off, allowing Byrne to complete his hat trick. He’d strike again less than a minute later circling the net, stumbling to the left of the crease and shooting high. With three goals in just under two minutes, Chaos were within one.

Then, a scary moment as Baptiste carried the ensuing faceoff toward the net. Diving toward the crease he collided with Riorden’s knee. Riorden stayed down momentarily but both men would remain in the game uninjured. A Dhane Smith post created transition for Atlas, which ended when Teat found himself defended by Mac O’Keefe. Teat’s hat trick soon followed. He’d then set up Law’s hat trick with a clean one handed, full speed ground ball recovery, and a backhand shovel pass across the front of the crease giving Law an easy finish.

Oh yeah, Teat was not done. Recognizing Glicini as a defender behind the net, he directed his teammate away, got a step and the ball and scored his fourth on a low shot with just two seconds on the shot clock. With Austin Kaut in the Chaos net late to provide extra pressure, he was caught near the midfield line on a turnover. John Crawley picked up the ball, beat a double and put the ball in what was then an open net for an easy two pointer, and an Atlas 16-10 win.

After a rough start for Atlas, the win puts them in a virtual three-way tie for first (Redwoods and Whipsnakes also 4-2). Teat commented on his eight-point effort at the end of the game saying, “it means my teammates are doing a great job.” He also added, “by the end of the year we’ll have something pretty special.” As if eight goal scorers and nine points getters wasn’t special enough.

The PLL All-Star game goes next week. Yes, Jeff Teat will be there.