The second PLL semi-final game on a misty Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia had one opponent seeing clearly and one not. Whipsnakes Lacrosse Club overpowered the upstart Waterdogs to head back to the championship games with a decisive 14-10 victory.
At times, to nobody’s surprise, it was the Zed Williams show. His back-to-back goals were impressive. He ended the day with five solid goals showing why he was last season’s MVP, and is a contender again this year. He was the halftime featured player; but it was his play on the field that really stood out.
Jay Carlson also contributed a hat trick for the Whipsnakes. Matt Rambo, who shone the last time he was in Philadelphia and playing for the PLL, seemed to struggle a bit but contributed a solitary goal and aided in two others.
The real highlight of the day appeared to be the play of Brian Phipps. The Whipsnakes’ goalie had a 57% save percentage. And although it was not a great percentage, he stole the show with his out of the goal cage-slide into the goal cage to prevent a critical goal. Major League Lacrosse fans were used to Phipps sacrificing his body for the game. That save had the stadium roaring while sinking the hopes of the Waterdogs.
“Any time you can play lacrosse with some of your best friends, it’s an awesome feeling,” Phipps stated. “It’s a very special group of guys and I am happy to be playing one more game.”
Someone who will not be playing one more game this season is Kieran McArdle. McArdle won “best of show” for the offense of the Waterdogs. He contributed six points with a hat trick and some physical play reminiscent of box lacrosse. Unfortunately, his fellow pack could not keep up with this dominance. Michael Sowers, returning from a near-season long head injury, had o goal and two assists. Zach Currier had one goal. Ryan Brown struggled to get things going although ended with a pair of goals.
Although the scoreboard showed a relatively close game, it appeared that the Waterdogs were overpowered. And while a great defense can make an average goalie look outstanding, a struggling defense can make an outstanding goalie look less than ideal. Dillon Ward’s 39% save average was not reflective of his solid net minding career or the work he’s done this season to raise the Waterdogs’ profile. That is understandable considering he was up against two former MVPs as well as their formidable teammates.
The final two teams will battle it out for the title in D.C. on September 19th. Will Chaos find a way to shake things up and knock the Whipsnakes down a peg with their physical play and aggressive style? Or will the Whips’ tame Chaos and go on to win their third championship in a row? Tune in to find out.