The defending Premier Lacrosse League champion Whipsnakes picked up right where they left off with a season-opening 13-9 win over Redwoods on Saturday at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah.
The Whipsnakes defeated Redwoods in last year’s championship so it was like the game was just coming back from a long intermission – though each team stocked up on talent.
Whipsnakes added Zed Williams, who made an immediate impact with three goals, and Redwoods added Myles Jones, who scored a goal and one assist, and added a veteran presence on offense. Redwoods had moments of brilliance but let themselves fall behind early, having to play catch up.
Whipsnakes took a 3-0 lead in the first with two coming courtesy of faceoff man Joe Nardella, who on consecutive plays won the faceoff to himself and wrestled his way into the offensive zone. Jones got Redwoods on the board, faking outside before getting past the arc and going high-to-low with a hard shot. Matt Kavanagh got a second for Redwoods with 18.5 seconds left in the first.
Williams scored his first, shrugging off a defender to start the second. Kyle Harrison got the season’s first 2-point goal with two seconds left in a Redwoods possession, grabbing a loose ball and taking a smart underhand shot to tie the game at four. Redwoods then took a 6-4 lead on goals from Kavanagh and Clarke Petterson. Matt Rambo replied off the ensuing faceoff to stop Redwoods momentum. Rambo picked up another point after Tim Muller converted his pass right in front of the net to tie the game at six. Whipsnakes then took advantage of a turnover, getting the ball to Williams who put them up 7-6 with nine seconds left in the half. Williams scored again with 0.7 seconds left after Nardella won another faceoff. Williams put in a backhander as he fell to the ground.
Whipsnakes outscored Redwoods 3-0 in the third for an 11-6 lead. John Haus scored a pair in the frame.
Redwoods made a push in the third, with Petterson scoring his second of the game as he was pushed into the crease. Midfielder Sergio Perkovic scored a 2-pointer to get Redwoods with a pair. The physical play picked up with Bryce Young getting his stick into Ryder Garnsey’s neck, which started some pushing and shoving (and some f-bombs clearly heard in the background of NBC’s broadcast). Young and Tyler Warner were both called for penalties, but Redwoods squandered their two-man advantage. Max Tuttle and Joe Locasio added late markers for Whipsnakes.
While the offense of Whipsnakes shone, their real strength on opening day was at the X, where Nardella won 15 of 22 faceoffs. Kyle Bernlohr in goal also had a great day, making 15 saves.
Redwoods are back in action Monday at 7 p.m. facing Atlas, while Whipsnakes now have a few days rest until they play Chaos on Thursday.