Archers forward Jon Robbins scored less than 20 seconds into Wednesday’s 26-23 win over the Whipsnakes in the Championship Series on Wednesday night.
The goals came quick and the goals came often for an Archers team that led by eight points headed into the final frame. Every Archers player tallied a goal, including Robbins and Jared Conners, who both normally play with long-sticks.
“It gives us a rest,” Archers head coach Chris Bates said. “We don’t want to play our offense guys constantly on the (offensive) end and we don’t want to play our (defensive) guys just on (defense). Again, we’re learning as we go. It’s good to get 10 dudes scoring. Everybody feels good. We try to share the ball.”
The Archers adaptability, and ability to score with any lineup on the field proved to be a difference maker in the new sixes format that features fluid substitutions and little stoppage in play. Conners scored off a faceoff and the Archers took several turnovers to the other end for goals.
On the other side, Whipsnakes struggled offensively, converting on just 30% of shots in the first half and turning the ball over 12 times throughout the game. Whipsnakes head coach Jim Stagnitta highlighted postgame that his personnel hasn’t fully adjusted to their new roles.
“It’s a challenge I’ve never had to do anything like this in my career,” said Stagnitta who led his team to PLL titles in the league’s first two seasons. “We have a few d-middies who haven’t played offense, guys who haven’t been with us in a while, another guy who hasn’t been with us in a year.”
Plays that felt like minor wins for the Whipsnakes didn’t end up like them in the first half. Open two-point shots led to long saves for Archers goalie Brendan Krebs, who finished with a 50% save percentage in his lone half of play.
And as a ESPN broadcaster Jake Marsh joked, Archers somehow scored during breaks in the game too as what appeared to be a Grant Ament (3G, 1T, 1A) one-point goal turned into a two-point score upon review.
But after the first half felt like nothing could go wrong for Archers, things flipped in the second half. Archers players and Bates noted after the game that while the win felt dominant at times, allowing a double-digit to dwindle down to a three-point victory wasn’t an acceptable finish.
“Not really happy with how we finished. I think tonight we had to learn how to play with a lead,” Archers forward Ryan Ambler (4G) said.
Whipsnakes stormed back in the second half, largely due to three two-point goals from Brad Smith (3G, 3T, 2A) and cleaner passing leading to open shot opportunities.
Whipsnakes now head into the final round robin matchup without a win hoping their squad found something to build off of in the second half.
“Second half, ball was moving faster. Less one on one dodging,” Smith said. “There are some positives to take out of it, a lot of lessons learned.”