Entering Friday night’s contest between the Archers and the Redwoods, Rob Pannell sat at 298 career goals, just two away from becoming the fifth player in professional lacrosse history to score 300.
Through not even five minutes of play, 298 became 299 when Pannell dodged from behind the cage and sliced through the Archers defense to score lefty and put the ‘Woods up 1-0. It seemed only a matter of time before 300 came as he and partner in crime Ryder Garnsey — who was leading the PLL in scoring — looked set for another electric performance at attack.
But, after his 299th career goal, Pannell proceeded to shoot 0-6 and turn the ball over seven times for the remainder of the game. Garnsey scored with 10:08 left in the second quarter, but that would be his only and the club’s final goal of the game as the Archers defense utterly overwhelmed the Redwoods offense.
The Archers stymied John Grant Jr.’s group, holding the ‘Woods to just three goals, zero scores for the final 34:08 of game time, an 11.5% shooting percentage, and only 13 shots on goal. The three points allowed are tied for the lowest in a PLL game ever.
So, how did the Archers defense and Defensive Coordinator Tony Resch do it? How did they hold an offense averaging 11.8 goals per game to just three?
The success the Archers defense had was a result of quality goalie play, close defenders who can win matchups on and off the ball, and a defensive scheme that the players know and can execute effectively.
Brett Dobson is playing at an elite level for the Archers
Life is a lot easier for a defense when it can trust the goalie to stop certain shots and dictate that the opposing offense takes them. Brett Dobson’s 60.5% save rate (2nd in PLL) and his 69 saves (also 2nd) through five games represent how stellar of a first half of the season he’s had. Against the Redwoods Dobson made 10 stops, consistently deflecting close shots with his body.
“This guy played unbelievable,” said Mac O’Keefe as he sat next to Dobson in the postgame press conference. “He gave us a chance right from the start. When your goalie is playing like that, when your defense is playing like that, it makes your offense just feel that much more confident.”
The Archers defense may have only allowed the Redwoods to take 13 shots on goal, but Dobson came up big when called upon. He allowed the defense to play confidently, largely only giving up shots that had little chance of getting past the Canadian keeper.
Here, Warren Jeffrey plays Pannell’s top shoulder, focusing on driving him out and defending top-side, but giving up the shot off the question mark. Dobson stays big, using his shoulder to make the save. Because of the faith in Dobson to make that stop, Jeffrey could settle for allowing the low angle shot while preventing the easier look had he given up top-side.