"> Rambo Leads Whipsnakes to Dramatic PLL Championship Victory | USA Lacrosse Magazine


Matt Rambo celebrates with his teammates after helping Whipsnakes beat Redwoods 12-11 in overtime to win the inaugural PLL championship

Rambo Leads Whipsnakes to Dramatic PLL Championship Victory

Talk about an MVP moment.

Whipsnakes’ Matt Rambo scored the tying goal to force overtime with 21 seconds remaining in regulation, then buried a championship-clinching shot 28 seconds into the extra frame to claim the Premier Lacrosse League’s first championship, a 12-11 triumph over Redwoods.

Rambo, who notched three goals and three assists, earned championship game MVP honors two days after winning the league’s regular-season MVP award.

“I’m just so happy,” Rambo said on NBC. “This team worked hard all year up and down. We might not have the best individuals, but we have the best team.”

The late rally saved the Whips from a potential collapse. Jim Stagnitta’s crew was up 9-2 with four minutes remaining in the third quarter, but Redwoods turned things around quickly with a late spurt in the third frame. Jack Near, Ryder Garnsey and Sergio Perkovic scored in the final three minutes, with Perkovic’s goal coming from 2-point range, to cut the deficit to 9-6 going into the fourth quarter.

“I’m just so happy. This team worked hard all year up and down. We might not have the best individuals, but we have the best team.” — Matt Rambo

That was the start of a 9-1 run for Redwoods, capped off by goal by Joe Walters with 1:36 remaining to give the team its first lead of the game since going up 1-0.

“We didn’t want anybody home to turn their TVs off,” Stagnitta joked.

That set up the first of Rambo’s heroic actions which came out of a Whipsnakes timeout with 30 seconds remaining. He took a pass from Drew Snider and found space right down the middle to run in and equalize.

Whipsnakes got the first faceoff of the overtime frame and Rambo didn’t waste any time. He executed a question mark dodge from X around Matt Landis and beat Redwoods rookie goalie Tim Troutner.

“It’s a game of runs,” Rambo said. “We just dug deep.”

The Philadelphia native, who had previously lost two NCAA championships in his hometown, got to leave the field with a big smile on his face this time.

“Especially playing in the NLL with the Wings here, I grew up in Philly, any time I play in Philly it’s special,” Rambo said. “To win a championship here means everything.”

John Haus scored a hat trick for the Whips and added an assist, while Mike Chanenchuk had three points. Matt Kavanagh led the Redwoods with four points, while Ryder Garnsey and Brent Adams each had three.

Whipsnakes’ Kyle Bernlohr made 16 saves and was vital in the net.


Archers Shoot to Thrill

Will Manny put on a record-setting performance individually, notching PLL single-game highs for goals (7) and points (11), and Archers set a new team high for goals in an explosive 25-7 victory against Atlas in a battle for the No. 1 pick.

With the victory, Archers will pick first in the entry draft for the second consecutive year. Unlike last year, when the pick was given to them based on the bounce of ping pong balls, they had to work for this one.

Marcus Holman was also stellar, scoring six times, while Ryan Ambler and Christian Cuccinello each added four points. Archers pulled away late in the first quarter and early in the second with a seven-point run which included a 2-point bomb from Mike Simon, who started the year on Atlas. Another seven-goal run that started in the second and ran into the later stages of the third meant the rout was on.

Archers bested its previous season high for goals in a game with 8:09 left in the third and broke the league’s single-game record of 20 with 3:59 left in the third.

It seems likely, simply based on roster construction, that Yale faceoff specialist T.D. Ierlan will be the pick for Archers, but current faceoff specialist Stephen Kelly made a strong final impression by winning 14 of his 18 draws.

Archers has a chance to add two No. 1 overall picks to an already talented lineup if Tewaaraton winner Pat Spencer opts to kick off his lacrosse career following a season of basketball at Northwestern.


Matt Rambo scored the game-tying and game-winning goals to lead Whipsnakes to the PLL championship in his hometown of Philadelphia.

Play of the Week

Whipsnakes’ Jay Carlson knocked down a pass in traffic with his stick, then picked up the ground ball and danced around the crease for this impressive goal in the second quarter.


The PLL’s inaugural season began with an overtime game and ended with one. Archers kicked off this journey way back in June with a 13-12 victory against Chrome. For Whipsnakes, this was its fourth overtime game. … Archers flipped its usual script, starting Drew Adams in goal in the first half and sending Adam Ghitelman out in the second. Combined, they made 13 saves. … Atlas’ Brent Noseworthy scored his first PLL goal in his debut in the league. … Redwoods’ Jack Near and Archers’ Dominique Alexander also scored their first PLL goals … Greg Gurenlian went 13-for-23 at the X for Redwoods. Could this have been his final professional game? … Archers’ Jackson Place, who suffered a scary injury two weeks back, was interviewed on the sidelines during his team’s game. He was wearing a neck brace but said it should come off next week when his rehab begins.