5 Takeaways from the Opening Night of the PLL Championship Series


Bryan Costabile (10 points) and Romar Dennis (eight points) led the Atlas to an opening 29-16 win over the Whipsnakes.

In so many words, each of the four coaches participating in this week’s Premier Lacrosse League Championship Series said the same thing during Tuesday afternoon’s media availability.

“We don’t know what to expect out there.”

The Championship Series began Wednesday at The St. James in Springfield, Va., representing the first opportunity for many of the PLL pros and coaching staffs to experience the augmented Sixes discipline. Augmented, of course, because the PLL added a 13-yard two-point line — a key difference compared to World Lacrosse’s Sixes format that was played at The World Games this past summer.

Each of the four coaches essentially agreed that the preliminary round on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday would serve as a testing ground for Saturday’s semifinals. Because all four teams make it to Saturday, all that’s at stake is seeding. Perhaps sacrificing seeding for format-specific knowledge will prove to be a fair tradeoff.

Even with a small sample size of Sixes content available to study, coaches and players made it work. The PLL uploaded full contests from The World Games to their film service, and curious coaches like Jim Stagnitta of the Whips were anxious to get started.

“It all intrigues me,” Stagnitta said. “I watched USA games in Sixes, and then when I saw the rules here … it all intrigues me. I’m really looking forward to seeing what we’re going to be able to do from a substation standpoint.”

Stagnitta’s Whips fell to the Atlas 29-16 in the opening game of the prelims and the Archers followed with a 23-22 overtime win over the Chrome. Here’s what stood out most from the action.


Maybe there’s a reason the DraftKings Sportsbook pegged the Atlas as the betting favorite entering the tournament. The Atlas and their rangy shooters thrived against the Whipsnakes, converting on seven two-point goals.

Bryan Costabile, who produced a game-high 10 points, was a perfect 3-for-3 from distance. Romar Dennis went 2-for-4, and Jake Carraway went 2-for-2. Overall, the Atlas shot 58.3 percent from beyond the arc.

None of the other three teams attempted anywhere close to as many two-bombs as the Atlas. Maybe it was a product of the matchup, maybe it’s the Atlas’ strategy. It’s too early to tell.


Sean Sconone was an X-factor for the Chrome in the first half, making nine saves (60 percent) and helping the Chrome enter halftime up 13-6. Sixty percent in Sixes, even more so than in full field lacrosse, is astounding. Goalies see a ton of rubber with a 30-second shot clock, but Sconone wasn’t rattled.

Like the other clubs, acting Chrome head coach Jacques Monte switched goalies after the break, going to Georgetown graduate Owen McElroy. He couldn’t keep up with the Archers once they came alive, and the Archers came back to take a 19-18 lead a couple minutes into the fourth quarter.


That is the question. That was also a hot topic during Tuesday’s press conference.

“Let’s just say that’s an ongoing debate at this point,” Archers coach Chris Bates said. “I’m being lobbied a little bit for some specialization to some degree, but I think we’re going to learn as we go. There’s going to be some mixing and matching, but to start, we want everyone out and playing D, just getting acclimated.

“There will be a lot of questions answered here in the next couple days.”

That meant having All-Star attackmen like Will Manny, Marcus Holman and Grant Ament play more defense than ever before. It wasn’t perfect, but they fared reasonably well.

The Chrome took a consistent approach to subbing, changing lines for every offensive possession. Five players effectively took a run as an offense, got back on defense, then switched.

Just like at The World Games, subbing in this format is one of the nuances that can’t be perfected until games are played. It’ll get better, or at least more intentional, as this week goes on.


Everyone on the field is a pro, but Sixes creates even more opportunities for players to shine. Costabile, Dennis, Dylan Molloy and Ty Warner were four who noticeably excelled.

Warner, the only non-offensive player in the aforementioned group, even tied Brad Smith for the Whips’ team lead with four points. He also won 3 of 4 faceoffs, which are only taken at the beginning of each quarter.


For a multitude of reasons — availability, injury, etc. — the Championship Series created big opportunities for players who don’t see the same chance in the summer. Carraway, for example, was displaced by Chris Gray in the summer season. He went out and produced five points (two two-point goals and one assist) in his Championship Series debut.

Krebs, a 2022 Manhattan graduate, didn’t get a chance to play in the summer, but he made eight saves in one half of action Wednesday night. Others getting similar chances include Marc O’Rourke, Gibson Smith IV, Nick Washuta and Reed Junkin.

With more strong performances, they could play their way into larger roles — or onto different teams — in the summer.


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