Chaos Defense Clamps Down on Archers En Route to PLL Semi Victory

COURTESY OF PLL


With 17 seconds remaining in the PLL semifinals, Archers midfielder Tom Schreiber took a last gasp two-point shot against Chaos goalie Blaze Riordan that could have sent the game into overtime.

The ball rolled up Riorden’s shorts and got stuck. It was that kind of day as the Chaos defeated the Archers, 9-7, to earn a trip to the PLL championship game.

“I didn’t think that ball went in,” a somber Schreiber said. “There was a small hope. I think you saw Rowlett or somebody jump in and maybe it trickled in, but once you saw the replay you knew it wasn’t going to go.”

Riorden’s reaction was more brief.

“Good day to have wet shorts, I guess,” Riorden said.

One week after holding the second-seeded Chrome to only three goals on 35 shots, the Chaos went toe-to-toe with the league’s highest scoring offense, the Archers, in the semifinals. Despite the challenges of facing an offense featuring Marcus Holman, Will Manny, Connor Fields, Matt Moore, Ryan Ambler, and Tom Schreiber, the Chaos defense was impenetrable, allowing only seven goals.

The Archers took 40 shots, more than half of which were on goal, but they were only able to score seven goals, 14 percent lower than their regular season-leading 32 percent.

Chaos head coach Andy Towers credited the gameplan from assistant coach Jamie Hanford.

“We want to be connected,” he said. “We want everybody to prioritize the defensive scheme seven strong rather than their individual matchups. I felt like our guys did that. In order to do that, you’ve got to be 100 percent team-first. You have to be ego-less to not care who you cover, to not care how your individual matchup plays out to prioritize the success of the defensive end as a whole. Our guys did that again.”

On the season, the Chaos defense was sixth in the league with a 12.6 goals against average. Towers said it wasn’t until the team’s ninth game of the season, an 11-8 loss to the Archers, that he felt like the team played a good defensive game. He said he thought the defense played even better the following week, a 10-9 loss to the Atlas.

He said despite those losses, the defensive effort helped build up to the performances they’ve had in the playoffs.







The defense was also especially physical, often leaving Holman, Manny, and Schreiber on the ground after a shot.

“We talked about being the first ones to get our (jerseys dirty),” Riorden, who had 13 saves, said. “We’ve talked about being the first team to soak a ball. We’ve talked about being the first team to make a big hit. We did that today, and we didn’t look back. That’s what it takes in these crucial moments of high-octane lacrosse games.”

The Archers were the first ones to score in the first quarter, but the Chaos scored three straight goals in response. Although the Archers continuously clawed back, they never were able to fully recover.

It was the third year in a row the Chaos ended the Archers' season in the playoffs and the second time in three years it happened in the semifinals.

“They seem to be our kryptonite,” said Archers' attackman Marcus Holman. “You’ve got to give credit to them. It’s not like we’re playing against the JV squad. They’re incredible. They have some of the best players in the world.

“I think something the Chaos does defensively is they’re kind of unpredictable,” he added. “Early in the season, they were sliding. This game, they didn’t seem to be sliding as much. You’ve got to figure that out on the fly and adjust, and I don’t think we did a great job of that. You think you get an open look and Blaze stonewalls you, or he makes a kick save on a two-yarder. You’ve just got to try and work through it.”

For the third consecutive year, the Chaos entered the postseason with more losses than wins and as big underdogs, but again, they clamped down and earned a trip to the championship game, this year as defending champions.

If you listen to Riorden, the team doesn’t worry about how they did in the regular season. The focus simply is on the week in front of them.

Next week just happens to have a trophy involved.

“One one of the hardest things to do is show up on these weekends and have tunnel vision and focus on the main goal,” he said. “If you’re not 100 percent focused on that, these teams are too good, and these players are too good, and that’s the difference between winning a one-goal game or a shot that rolls up your leg. I’m extremely excited to spend one more weekend with these guys.”

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