The fifth stop on the Premier Lacrosse League circuit landed the teams just outside of Minneapolis at the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings practice facility. It turned out to be a fitting venue for the Waterdogs Lacrosse Club because they pillaged and plundered an abysmal looking Cannons team to the tune of 19-7. The win moves the Waterdogs record to 3-3 and they’ll have a chance to move up even higher with a win against the Chrome on Sunday. Conversely, the Cannons (1-5) have only three games remaining to right the ship and get out of last place or their season will be over.
The Cannons attempted to address an issue at the faceoff X by trading away Drew Simoneau and Chris Hogan for faceoff specialist Kevin Reisman. Losers of three one-goal games, the Cannons were looking to gain a few desperately needed possessions and translate them into wins. Unfortunately on this night, Jake Withers had other ideas. The Waterdog faceoff specialist won 20 of 26 draws and along with Zach Currier and Liam Byrnes, dominated the Cannons in ground balls 46-23.
The tone was set early as the Waterdogs scored five times in the opening three minutes. Ryan Drenner finally answered for the Cannons at the 6:09 mark, but 18 seconds later Zach Currier erased that goal with his first of two on the night. By the end of the first, Jacob Stover had replaced Nick Marrocco in the Cannons net and the Waterdogs held a commanding 8-2 lead.
The second, third and fourth quarters were exact carbon copies of each other with the Waterdogs outscoring the Cannons 4-2, 4-1 and 3-2 respectively. What each quarter had in common was the way the Waterdogs spread the ball to all of their players to create sustained pressure and create chance after chance. Not only did it get results on the scoreboard, but their approach to team offense was refreshing and enjoyable to watch.
“One of the things that we emphasize is just make passes, hit passes, (the) more passes the better,” stated Ryan Brown after the game. “We don’t have a Lyle or a guy like that – an X attackman that’s going to have the ball and make some stuff happen. For us it’s really important that we can keep the [ball] hot and flip the field and get the defenses’ heads turned left, right, up top, down low. That allows us to open up some cutting lanes, some room to pop off each other and rubs which creates opportunities. I think that’s when we’re at our best.”
Brown climbed back atop the scoring leaderboard with a four-goal performance while Zach Currier continued his stellar two-way play scoring twice and scooping six groundballs. Dillon Ward played his best game of the season making 10 saves, many of which were of the high difficulty variety. His best save came midway through the fourth when he robbed Shayne Jackson from point blank.
The Cannons big guns were uncharacteristically quiet. Lyle Thompson looked out of rhythm all night committing five turnovers and along with Paul Rabil, Andrew Kew and Stephen Rehfuss was held pointless. The lone bright spot for the Cannons was Ryan Drenner who netted the hat trick and added an assist.
The play of the game came at 3:05 of the second quarter when it looked like Zach Currier was going to score into an almost empty net. Lying on his back, goaltender Nick Marrocco reached up with his stick and snatched the ball out of mid-air for a highlight reel save and a definite candidate for the save of the year.