Waterdogs Lacrosse Club has its first win early in the 2021 PLL season after defeating Chaos 14-12 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Atlanta on Friday evening.
Ben Reeves, who took the place of an injured Michael Sowers in the lineup, recorded a hat trick in his first game action of the season.
“It was a great team win. Everyone stepped up and played well,” Reeves said earnestly to NBC’s Corey Robinson after the game.
Ryan Brown and Mikie Schlosser also recorded hat tricks for the Waterdogs.
Last season’s expansion Waterdogs went 1-4 in the 2020 Championship Series, their only win coming against Chaos. With a longer schedule in 2021, the team will expect to live up to their promise and rack up some more wins.
The Waterdogs led after every quarter, although Chaos held an early 3-2 lead in the first. Mac O’Keefe and Schlosser traded two-pointers before a reviewed Chris Cloutier goal on the crease gave Chaos the edge. Schlosser tied the game at three after catching Chaos goaltender Blaze Riorden by surprise. The teams traded two-pointers once again, this time from Connor Kelly who had a toe barely outside the arc, and Jake Froccaro. Reeves put Waterdogs up 6-5 with 13 seconds left in the first.
Kelly and Schlosser were the only two goal scorers of the second, giving Waterdogs an 8-5 lead at halftime.
Head coach Andy Copelan was happy with Schlosser’s improved play over week one.
“He’s everything we thought he would be,” Copelan praised. “He’s dodging more assertively than week one. A couple [goals] early on helped. He’s playing with great energy right now.”
Chaos showed signs of life early in the third, with Josh Byrne shoveling a backhand past Dillon Ward 35 seconds in. Kyle Jackson made it two in a row for the stingers 30 seconds later to close the gap to a single goal. Reeves and Byrne traded goals before Riorden made a point-blank save on Ryan Brown that, had Chaos staged a comeback, would have been the turning point of the game. Instead, Brown got revenge shortly thereafter, picking up a bobbled ball at the arc to put Waterdogs up 10-8. Reeves made it a three-goal gap with his hat trick goal to close out the third.
Brown opened up a 13-8 lead over Chaos in the fourth, and Zach Currier made it a six-goal lead halfway through the frame, going airborne over the crease. Chaos managed to close the gap slightly after Froccaro scored his second two-pointer of the game. Some great defense from the Waterdogs kept Chaos in check heading into the final minutes, with Liam Byrnes stripping Dhane Smith of both the ball and his stick leading to a transition chance. Ward then made a left leg save on a power play attempt from Froccaro.
With less than a minute left, Chaos picked up two goals, including a Cloutier marker, assisted by Smith, a box play that they probably practice in Buffalo playing for the Bandits. But, the clock favoured the Waterdogs, who showed their talent and kept Chaos on a short leash most of the game.
“As an offensive unit, I thought we did a good job today sharing the ball and setting each other up in great positions to make plays,” Schlosser said post-game. “We made a lot of hustle plays that resulted in goals. It was an exciting step for us.”
Both teams are back in action on Sunday, with Waterdogs in the 1 p.m. against the 0-1 Chrome on NBCSN, and Chaos versus Archers at 3:45 on peacock.
Kieran McArdle was scratched this game, but without an actual game day roster I can’t tell you who took his place|| Jake Withers won 14 of 25 faceoffs, an average day at the X for him at 56% || Dillon Ward made seven saves for a .440 SV%, and Blaze Riorden made 14 saves for a .540 SV% || Jake Froccaro led all scorers with five points – two 2-pt goals and one assist