PLL Week 1: Whips Get Revenge, Atlas Flexes Offensive Might

PHOTO COURTESY OF PLL


The heavily shorthanded Chaos put up a valiant effort, but in the end, the Whipsnakes got a bit of revenge in the first game of the 2022 Premier Lacrosse League season.

Mike Chanenchuk scored with five seconds remaining to flip the script from last year’s championship bout and give the Whips a 9-8 season-opening victory Saturday afternoon in Albany, New York.

“For us, not being able to win that last game last year gave us a lot of fire,” Chanenchuk said.

His late goal capped a comeback effort for the Whipsnakes, who surprisingly found themselves down 6-2 to a Chaos squad missing a large chunk of its roster due to the schedule overlap with the National Lacrosse League.

A five-goal run stretching from the second quarter into the fourth helped the Whipsnakes take the lead, but they’d need one more push after the Chaos responded with tallies from Kyle Jackson and Mac O’Keefe. They got it in an equalizer from Jackson Reid and Chanenchuk’s late lefty bouncer.

The last goal sealed a hat trick for Chanenchuk, who led the Whips in scoring. Justin Guterding and Matt Rambo added a pair of points.

O’Keefe had three points for the Chaos, while Ryan Smith and Jackson each had two in the low-scoring affair.

ATLAS FLEXES OFFENSE

The Atlas already boasted one of the scariest offensive units in the PLL. When Chris Gray dropped to them with the No. 2 pick, they became the team to watch in 2022.

In Week 1, the Bulls delivered with the top scoring output in the entire league.

Jeff Teat and Eric Law each put up seven points, good for the PLL lead through Week 1, as the Atlas rolled to a 17-11 win against the Redwoods. Gray, Bryan Costabile and Trevor Baptiste added three points each, with Gray also sharing the quote of the weekend. He displayed his confidence by explaining how little he needs to see of the net to let off a shot.

“Just the corner, really,” Gray said.

Jules Heningburg got the Woods within a goal at 5-4 with 7:17 remaining in the second quarter, but the Atlas pulled away with a 10-3 run that stretched to the end of the third.







PARITY ON DISPLAY

The two teams that finished at the bottom of the standings last season — the Cannons and the Chrome — each walked away with a victory on Sunday against two of 2021’s top units. It was an early reminder of the fluidity of the PLL table.

The Cannons opened the day with a 16-10 victory against the Waterdogs in the most dominant showing of the weekend. Lyle Thompson got off to a strong start in his MVP chase, scoring four goals with two assists. While his performance is to be expected, the group got an unlikely boost at the faceoff dot. After struggling mightily on draws in the franchise’s first year in the PLL, offseason acquisition Stephen Kelly won 56 percent of his attempts and was especially successful early.

The Cannons led by as much as nine, first hitting the mark when Ryan Drenner capped off a four-goal run to start the second quarter to give his team an 11-2 advantage. The Waterdogs cut that deficit to six three times but were never able to get closer.

Drenner contributed three goals and an assist for the Cannons, while Jake Froccaro and Shayne Jackson each had three points. Asher Nolting scored twice in his professional debut.

“We felt good in the first half,” Thompson said on ESPN+. “We’ve still got to put a full game together in this league, especially coming down the stretch toward the end of the season. We’ve got to find a way to put four quarters together. Today we didn’t. We can’t be satisfied with the performance we had, but we built ourselves a solid enough lead.”

The new-look Chrome, hit hard by retirements in the offseason, followed up the Cannons with an 11-10 win against Archers.

The Archers nearly pulled off a comeback from down five goals when Marcus Holman scored a man-up goal with 47 seconds remaining, but the squad was unable to fully take advantage of a lengthy penalty on Mike Messenger by finding an equalizer.

Dylan Molloy notched two goals and two assists for the Chrome, while rookie Brendan Nichtern scored twice and added a helper. Eli Salama hit the team’s first two-point goal of the summer.

The Archers, playing without reigning Attackman of the Year Grant Ament, were flexible in their offensive sets. Rookie Connor DeSimone, inserted into the midfield unit, led the way offensively with two goals and two assists.

Holman had a strong chance to tie the score in the closing seconds while standing right on the doorstep, but Mike Manley did well to stop him from even getting off a shot. The ball bounced to Nick Grill, who was able to clear and seal the win.

“I thought for having some young, new guys, we kind of held our poise,” Chrome defenseman Jesse Bernhardt said. “It’s a good way to start the year off.”

NOTEWORTHY

Six players scored their first career goals over the weekend: Connor DeSimone, Chris Gray, Jack Hannah, Brendan Nichtern, Asher Nolting and Jackson Reid. Top pick Logan Wisnauskas, coming off a championship at Maryland and a Tewaaraton Award, had an assist in his Chrome debut. … Redwoods’ Rob Pannell went down with an injury but returned in the second half against Atlas after it was diagnosed as a cramp. … Cannons’ Nick Marrocco had the save of the weekend, stopping Waterdogs’ Michael Sowers … ESPN announced its roster of commentators for the 2022 season, which includes Jay Alter, Dana Boyle, Ryan Boyle, Paul Carcaterra, Drew Carter, Chris Cotter, Katie George, Roddy Jones, Quint Kessenich, Jake Marsh, Chantel McCabe, Anish Shroff and Sheehan Stanwick-Burch.

UP NEXT
ALL TIMES EASTERN

(In Charlotte, North Carolina)

Friday

Chrome vs. Redwoods, 6 p.m. (ESPN+)
Chaos vs. Archers, 8:45 p.m. (ESPN+)

Saturday

Atlas vs. Cannons, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
Whipsnakes vs. Waterdogs, 8:45 p.m. (ESPN+)

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