PLL Quarterfinals Recap: Berg, Kelly Carry Redwoods to Semifinals


Jack Kelly's 20 saves helped the Redwoods advance to the PLL semifinals.

The Berg was the word on Labor Day in Foxborough.

Wes Berg, the man who has shuffled between the Redwoods, Chrome, Waterdogs, Chaos and then back to the Redwoods, tied the Premier Lacrosse League record for goals in a game to lift the Woods into the league’s semifinals. The crafty Canadian scored seven goals — six in the first half — to pace a 15-9 win over the Chaos.

The Redwoods’ result was one piece of an unusually chalky quarterfinal round for the PLL. For the first time in league history, the top four seeds advanced to the semifinals.

Berg, known for his knack for finding space in advantageous positions, needed just 18 touches to record the monster performance.

“I just kind of muck around in the middle there, and good things happen,” Berg said. “We got a lot of playmakers, so these are the fun ones. We like to play in the playoffs.”

On the other side of the field, Jack Kelly was a stone wall with 20 saves for a 71.4-percent success rate.

Jules Heningburg and Romar Dennis each had three points, as the Redwoods won a fourth straight game. Now they face their toughest test yet in the top-seeded Archers, who had a bye through the quarterfinals.

“So many guys are kind of buying into this and chiming in, and I think that’s the difference when you have so many young guys,” Redwoods coach Nat St. Laurent said.


The defending champion Waterdogs are the only club that has previously won a PLL title that remains in the hunt. To advance to the final four, Andy Copelan’s team knocked out the Whipsnakes for the second year in a row and handed the two-time champs their worst-ever finish. This season is the first the Whips are absent from the semifinals.

Kieran McArdle and Michael Sowers combined to overwhelm the Whips, notching eight and seven points, respectively, in the 15-12 victory. Dillon Ward commanded a sturdy defense that slowed the Whipsnakes down late. After Tucker Dordevic tied the score at 10, the Waterdogs kept their foes off the board for nearly 15 minutes.

McArdle scored the eventual winner with the clock winding down in the third quarter on an assist from Sowers. Two more goals from the St. John’s alum helped seal the deal.

“We knew in a playoff game we had to step up,” McArdle said. “If we’re the offensive leaders on that end, we have to step up in the playoffs if we want to make a championship run.”


The most lopsided contest was the nightcap, as the Cannons earned their first postseason victory since transitioning to the PLL with a 20-11 drubbing of the Atlas. That marked a season high for the Cannons, who remain the best story of 2023.

Asher Nolting led the way with a career-high seven points (three goals, four assists), while Jonathan Donville scored an efficient four goals on five shots.

The Atlas managed to cut a six-goal deficit to four at halftime, but the Cannons ran away in the second half. And now, a year after finishing in last place at 1-9, the Cannons are a win away from the title game.

“It’s special, especially coming from a place we were coming from,” said Cannons coach Brian Holman, who was named the PLL’s Dick Edell Coach of the Year earlier in the weekend.

The Atlas concludes a season in which they largely took a step back under first-year head coach Mike Pressler. After going 6-4 in 2022, the Atlas now hold the No. 2 pick in the Collegiate Draft and have many free agent situations to figure out — including one with superstar Jeff Teat.


The PLL handed out its season awards on Saturday night. You can see all the winners here. … Now a five-time winner of LSM of the year, Michael Ehrhardt discussed the difficult decision he faces when it comes to returning for 2024 when balancing life commitments. … Mike Pressler took a ricocheted shot to the face that bloodied his nose, but he proudly wore it like a battle scar. … The Redwoods played without injured midfielder Nakeie Montgomery. … Boston College national champion and two-time Tewaaraton Award winner Charlotte North joined the ESPN broadcast for Cannons-Atlas.


On Long Island, New York


(1) Archers vs. (4) Redwoods, 3 p.m. (ABC)
(2) Cannons vs. (3) Waterdogs, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN+)


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