By Joey Bachich
What is the Premier Lacrosse League?
The Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) is the United States’ professional outdoor lacrosse league. Lacrosse superstar Paul Rabil started the PLL in 2019 with his brother Mike and has made enormous waves in the sports world.
Starting with six teams, the PLL travels from city-to-city weekly to attempt to grow the game in a different way. The Archers, Redwoods, Chrome, Chaos, Atlas and Whipsnakes are the original six teams, and the Waterdogs and Cannons were added as expansion teams after the first few seasons.
Now with eight full teams, the PLL looks to expand to home bases for its teams after this season. Even with that change, the season will still be touring to different cities weekly, which is a differentiating factor from other big sports leagues. With its second year on ABC, the PLL looks to have their biggest game to date when the one seeded Archers (8-2) go head to head with the three seeded Waterdogs (7-3) in the championship.
How we got here
No. 3 WATERDOGS (7-3)
The Waterdogs are defending champions and look to be the second team to repeat since the Whipsnakes went back to back in 2019 and 2020. The start to the season was a little rocky for the Waterdogs, being 4-3 after the first seven games. Not a bad start by any means, but the Waterdogs could have found themselves as a lower seed if they took their foot off the gas.
Avenging losses against the Archers and Cannons, the Waterdogs have gone 5-0 and have played their best ball in September when the season matters most. Goalie Dillon Ward has been a wall; when he starts the Waterdogs are 6-0.
Attackman Michael Sowers seems to play his best when the lights are the brightest, averaging 6.5 points in the playoffs, and he will be the x-factor of the offense. Midfielder Zach Currier is an all-around wizard who can go from defense to offense and creates mismatches at every level of the game, along with the physical midfielder Jack Hannah, who is not afraid of contact along with being a two point threat. If the Waterdogs can lean into their two-way play and win the submission game, they have a good chance at out-pacing the Archers and becoming back-to-back PLL champions.
No. 1 ARCHERS (8-2)
The Archers have broken their championship drought and have posted the best defense in the league along with the second best offense. Before this year, the Archers seemed to always have the talent to go all the way but could never put the pieces together.
This season, they have dominated in every aspect of the game from goals, assists, faceoff and goalie play. A late loss to the Waterdogs in the season stung, but showed the Archers that they cannot overlook the squad ahead of them.
Anyone in the Archers in the attack line can take over the game: Grant Ament fully healthy with his passing, Mac O'Keefe with his lights out shooting, and Connor Fields with his creative play.
In the midfield is the MVP of the league, Tom Schriber, who gives this team a veteran leader who can get his own shot. Brett Dobson has been a big reason why this Archers team flows so well with his goalie play this season, posting a 60% save percentage and at times can take over a game and steal one from an opponent.
If the Archers can create easy shots early and play some of the possession game, they can crown themselves PLL champions at the end of the game.
Setting the stage
The championship game is coming to Philadelphia Sunday, Sept. 24 at Subaru Park for its fifth season finale. The game will be on ABC and ESPN+ at 3 pm.