Gutsy Trevor Baptiste Helps Atlas Hand Chrome First Loss


Trevor Baptiste is helped off the field after injuring his hamstring.

EAGAN, Minn. — Chantel McCabe’s report from the sideline at the start of the fourth quarter of Friday night’s Atlas-Chrome matchup just outside Minneapolis was alarming for anyone pulling for the Bulls.

Just minutes earlier, Atlas faceoff specialist Trevor Baptiste walked off the field gingerly after winning a draw against Michael Messenger and taking the ball into the offensive zone. When he spoke to McCabe, he told the ESPN+ broadcaster that he heard a pair of pops and ranked his pain an 8 out of 10. That was followed by a cheery, “Thank God we have a bye week next week.”

Baptiste, who leads the Premier Lacrosse League in faceoff percentage by a wide margin, stayed in for the rest of the game in the Atlas’ 14-13 victory against the previously undefeated Chrome. He didn’t have the same success he enjoyed prior to the injury, having gone 80 percent against Connor Farrell, but he scraped and clawed his way the rest of the evening.

“I just tried to take it one foot in front of the other, really,” Baptiste said in his postgame interview. “I just blew out a [hamstring], that’s really what it is. But credit to Hannah, our trainer. I’m sure a lot of people might think it was crazy. She told me to stop playing, but I really wasn’t listening to her. That’s on me, but she really got me ready to go in and ready to keep playing.”

Clamping became the name of the game, as Baptiste relied on his wrists to do the work. At one point, he had to be helped off the field by teammates John Crawley and Dan Bucaro. He was playing on one leg.

“His effort and his ability to persevere through pain just tells you what kind of teammate he is,” color analyst Paul Carcaterra said on the ESPN broadcast.

That never-give-up mindset came as no surprise to those who suit up with him every week.

“Trevor is just such a warrior,” Atlas goalie Jack Concannon said. “He goes out there every game and leaves it all out there. He gives it everything he has. To see him go out there and play how he played against one of the top faceoff guys in the league is truly incredible, and to fight through that injury and go out there and continue winning is just unbelievable.”

Atlas head coach Ben Rubeor said one of his assistants, former PLL midfielder Steven Brooks, quickly suggested Baptiste be pulled from the game. As Baptiste mentioned, so did the medical staff. But he kept going out there, and the coaches were willing to take the risk.

“He’s a guy that even at not 100 percent, we have faith in at the end of the game to make plays,” Rubeor said. “I thought he had the clamp there a couple times, and we didn’t come away with the ball.”

Part of Rubeor’s calculus, he said, was the break the team is set to enjoy. The PLL is off next week, with the All-Star Game scheduled for the week after. While Baptiste is a shoo-in to be selected for the exhibition matchup at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, it likely won’t be a hard decision to sit out if needed for medical reasons.

The Atlas’ next game doesn’t come until July 23 against the Redwoods in Fairfield, Connecticut.

“He’s got 22 days to get healthy,” Rubeor said. “He’s a guy that I think takes care of himself as well as anybody in this league, and he’s certainly a big part of this thing. So, I hope he heals up.”

Baptiste’s early success was critical in Atlas getting out to a big lead, taking a 12-6 advantage early in the third quarter.

“Whenever you don’t have the ball, it is tough for you to get into a rhythm, it is tough for you to get the ball to score,” said Chrome interim head coach Jacques Monte, who filled in for Tim Soudan this weekend. “He was presenting a lot of issues early on, and it wasn’t just him. It was the rope unit. They were putting pressure on us in transition, and we had to adjust to that. When he was a little banged up in the second half, it allowed us to be able to get into a rhythm.”

The Chrome orchestrated a comeback, scoring six straight to tie the scre at 12, before Jeff Teat notched the game-winning tally for the Atlas with 1:21 remaining on the clock.

“Credit to Chrome,” Baptiste said. “This is two weeks in a row that they came back from a huge deficit. But we just hung together.”


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