As the Dropkick Murphy’s once did, the Outside The Box Podcast shipped up to Boston to take in Opening Weekend of the 2021 Premier Lacrosse League season. Although we experienced quite a few bumps along the way, taking in live sports again with fans in the stands was an experience that every person at Gillette Stadium this past weekend will always remember. The games were electric, the intensity was off the charts, and the outcomes of each game were almost all correctly predicted on our preview podcast. Here’s how it all went down in Foxboro.
Redwoods vs Cannons
The PLL debut for Lyle Thompson, Paul Rabil back in the red, white, and blue, and a new era of Cannons lacrosse kicked off under the lights of Gillette Stadium facing a championship hopeful Redwoods squad. Behind newly acquired Rob Pannell and some late game defensive stops from Eddy Glazener and company, the ‘Woods rolled to a 13-12 win and played spoiler to Cannons LC’s inaugural PLL game.
“Rob has been nothing but an incredible teammate, leader, and doing all the right stuff on and off the field since he got here,” said Kyle Harrison on his new teammate’s debut. The lacrosse community also learned that this would be Harrison’s final professional season of his playing career.
“He didn’t even want to announce his retirement… he didn’t want anybody to know and didn’t want anything to be about him, and that’s who he is,” said Redwoods Head Coach Nat. St. Laurent, “we’re all fortunate to have him in our lives.”
There’s always room to improve from game to game and the Redwoods have their eyes set on one thing heading into the gauntlet schedule they have in front of them.
“Our focus is on finishing what we started three years ago, and that’s winning a PLL Championship” said Harrison following the win.
Chaos vs Whipsnakes
In a highly anticipated 2020 Championship Game rematch, Chaos LC and Whipsnakes LC took to the field for the first time in 2021. And as KB said on our preview podcast, the absence of Attackmen Curtis Dickson and Miles Thompson could prove to be an issue for the Chaos offense, and KB certainly doesn’t miss. Whipsnakes picked up right where they left off in the Utah bubble and blitzed the Chaos defense all afternoon on their way to a 13-7 victory to kick off their three-peat campaign.
“I think the message was to be disciplined and us losing in our scrimmage earlier in the week was the best thing for us,” said Face Off Athlete Joe Nardella, “we haven’t lost a lacrosse game in about a year and a half and I think that was a really humbling experience for us.”
Whipsnakes Head Coach Jim Stagnitta said his team’s focus this season is consistency and playing all four quarters.
“At this time of the year, or at any point, we can always learn and we can always get better,” said Stagnitta, “and we had an opportunity to see what it’s like when we’re rolling and we had an opportunity to see what happens when we’re not all there.”
Even in a loss, Chaos had some positives to take away from their first game of the season especially the play of Wes Berg, who was acquired prior to the season from the Waterdogs.
“Wes is just a consistently smart, disciplined player and a great decision maker,” said Chaos Head Coach Andy Towers, “he equates his performances with winning the game and you saw what we can be when our offense gets rolling.”
This matchup is one that Chaos needs to figure out sooner than later to get the burden of losing to the Whipsnakes off their backs.
Atlas vs Archers
Is it 2019, or is it just this matchup? The Archers came out in the Saturday nightcap ready to go as they launched arrows all over the Gillette Stadium turf on their way to an 18-6 victory over Atlas. The Archers had goals recorded by eleven different players, including a hat trick from Ryan McNamara and a two-bomb from Connor Fields.
“It’s been a lot of fun so far and the sky’s the limit for us,” said Fields following his first game in an Archers uniform.
“We shot the ball really well… we had a couple two-pointers early and things were rolling for us,” said Archers Head Coach Chris Bates. Bates was also particularly impressed with his new-look defense’s performance.
“They did an outstanding job… it’s their first time playing together so it’s just good to get that group going.”
If the Archers can play complete games like this all season, they are going to find themselves competing for a shot at the PLL title in Washington, D.C. in September.
Cannons vs Waterdogs
In a battle of the expansion teams, the Cannons got another shot to tally the franchise’s first win in PLL history while the Waterdogs looked to kick off their second season with a splash. The Cannons came out with a bang and never looked back on their way to a 13-7 win.
Lyle Thompson said that this Cannons team isn’t an expansion team, they’re a talented team and he certainly did his part to prove that. Thompson scored four goals in Sunday’s game, as did teammate Andrew Kew. Head Coach Sean Quirk was happy to see his team grab their first win in team history during opening weekend.
“We wanted to establish ourselves in the locker room and more importantly on the lacrosse field,” said Quirk, “we have a long way to go before we get to where we want to be, but I think our identity is being a very accountable and selfless team.”
Paul Rabil said he doesn’t think there’s a blueprint for culture meaning success or locker room chemistry meaning success, but similarly to the New England Patriot’s mantra of “Do your job” and bringing in guys from all different walks of life is very similar to what this Cannons team is like on and off the field.
Waterdogs Head Coach Andy Copelan said he felt his team had a great training camp, but need to fix things on the field as the season continues to unfold.
“We have some carry over from last year and we have a lot of new pieces and this league is all about team chemistry,” said Copelan.
The Waterdogs have talent, but need to play as a team if they want to find success this season.
Chrome vs Redwoods
In the final game of Boston weekend, Chrome took the field for the first time against the ‘Woods and it provided a playoff preview with how intense this game was. There were fights, some significant injuries, and high octane play from both teams. In the end, the Redwoods improved to 2-0 on the young season with a 14-11 win over Chrome.
“We’ve got some work to do,” said St. Laurent, “we’re working on getting Ryder (Garnsey) more involved, it keeps me up at night, and that’s a great problem to have.”
The Redwoods look primed for a third straight season of going after a title and Chrome seem to be building off of last season’s success and fight their way into that conversation.
“How we responded in the second half says a lot,” said Chrome Goalie John Galloway, “we can build off of that performance going into next week.”
All in all, Boston was one helluva way to kick off the 2021 season and Atlanta is going to bring it for Week 2 of the tour.