By: Steven MacDonald
A new week of action in the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) gets underway Friday night in a game between the Atlas and Chrome from Weidner Field in Colorado.
The Atlas head to Colorado on a three game winning streak, and winners of four out of their last five games. The lone loss came at the hands of the Whipsnakes in overtime.
Their latest victory came in their final game before the All-Star break, and in a game where goaltender Jack Concannon was out with an injury. Concannon will miss the Atlas’s two games in Colorado due to the same injury.
Over their last five games, the Atlas offense has averaged 14.6 goals per game. Offensively the Atlas rank as the PLL’s No. 4 unit. However, the Waterdogs and Cannons sit first and second in that category, and have played one more game than every other team heading into the weekend.
Attackmen Jeff Teat and Jake Carraway are now first and third respectively among rookies in points.
Defensively the Atlas won’t jump out at you by the numbers. However, this is a unit where Michael Rexrode held Lyle Thompson without a goal for just the second time in his professional career. Likewise, Atlas’s defense surrendered just 10 goals against to Chaos before the All-Star break. In that game, Atlas held Chaos scoreless for nearly 24 minutes of action while playing backup goaltender JD Colarusso in cage. The Atlas defense also boasts the league’s No. 2 penalty kill at 75 percent.
At the stripe resides two time PLL All-Star Trevor Baptiste. He is the reason Atlas is ranked third in the league in face-off percentage, behind only Redwoods and Whipsnakes.
Chrome were once responsible for knocking off back to back No. 1 teams in the PLL standings. Those wins account for the only two on the season for Chrome. In their two games since then, Chrome are 0-2 with a negative 12 score differential.
Offensively Chrome ranks last in the PLL and has only converted 2-7 on the powerplay.
One of the standouts of this offense in 2021 has been rookie Jackson Morrill, who is tied with Carraway for third in the league in points by a rookie with 15.
The Chrome have battled teams by their play at the defensive end of the field. Chrome rank third in defense, and goalie play led by John Galloway puts them fourth in that category.
At the stripe, Connor Farrell is the No. 5 specialist in the PLL at 49 percent, also tallying 39 ground balls.
The Atlas and Chrome will each play two games in Colorado as the push for the playoffs heats up. The Atlas can clinch a playoff birth by winning one of their two games against either Chrome or Cannons. Chrome- however- can neither clinch or be eliminated from post-season contention this weekend; but with a 2-4 record, winning at least one game has to be on their radar this weekend.