The opening weekend of PLL’s third season saw the debut of Lyle Thompson, who many consider the best player in the world, who, with the Cannons’ first two games in their new league and their first victory, solidified the merger between the two outside leagues. There were also several highlights and the first team to win two games in the Redwoods.
More than week 1:
The Whipsnakes remained dominant in their Championship Series title rematch against Chaos, the Archers provided another example of why their offense is the best in the league when they outclassed the rebuilding Atlas, and the biggest stars brought their A-games for a weekend that provided a lot of promise for what lies ahead.
While some players on this list have the advantage of playing two games over the weekend (selections from Cannons and Redwoods), it will all balance out with how the schedule plays out over the next few months.
Meet the Inside Lacrosse Team of the Week for the Gillette Stadium opening weekend round of games.
Adam Ghitleman, G, Archers (17 saves, save percentage 81%, 4GAA): Ghitleman left nothing easy for the Atlas offense and gave coach Chris Bates no choice but to play him in both halves, unlike the usual two-keeper system that ‘he has used over the past two seasons with his other star goalie Drew Adams.
Holden Garlent, D, Cannons (2 CT, 5 GB, 1G in 2 sets): Garlent scored a nice goal in the Cannons’ opener when he filled the open lane in midfield and fired a shot in the top corner. But it’s his active defense, both on and off the ball, that needs to be recognized above all else when considering what makes Garlent so special. One of the best communicators in the world, Garlent’s game will be paramount in helping Brodie Merrill and rookie Jack Kielty help the Cannons achieve more victories in the future.
Matt Dunn, D, Whipsnakes (1 GB, 1A): Dunn was clearly the league’s top covering defenseman last summer, and again proved he was aiming for the back-to-back Dave Pietramala award with the work he did on Chaos forward Josh Byrne on Saturday. Bryne netted a non-angle goal past Kyle Bernlohr on a down screen rushing towards the net, but Dunn otherwise dominated the game. It’s going to take something special to beat Dunn out of the dodge, and Byrne is certainly one of the few able to do that (as he showed in the 2020 title game with his goal between his legs) .
Brodie Merrill, D, Cannons (4 CT, 12 GB in 2 sets): Merrill has an annual award for a position he no longer holds his name, but in the Cannons’ first two games of the season, Merrill looked like he was five years younger. From the few big hits he delivered to picking up an occasional half-dozen rushing balls on each outing, Merrill was excellent. Every time a dodger turned his back on Merrill and turned around, his snapshot double took its toll. It was vintage Brodie.
Scott Ratliff, LSM, Archers (4 points, 1 2 points, 2A, 2 CT, 2 GB): Ratliff played an incredibly complete game and his 2 point pointer helped the Archers build an insurmountable first half lead. His midfield play gave Atlas no chance to sniff a comeback. It’s hard to beat Bomb 2-scoring Michael Ehrhardt after another stellar performance he put in, but Ratliff gets the nod in Week 1.
Zach Goodrich, SSDM, Canons (4 CT, 4 GB, 1A in 2 games): Goodrich appears to have established himself as the first SSDM of the year favorite George Bioardi after the way he defended himself on opening weekend. The former Towson gave nothing to the dodgers, be it Sergio Perkovic or Michael Sowers.
Steven DeNapoli, SSDM, Waterdogs (3 CT, 2G, 1 GB): DeNapoli has been hampered by injuries in recent seasons, but he was quick and energetic when the Waterdogs lost early in the season. It’s never a good sign for offense when an SSDM is at the top of the score, but DeNapoli’s two scores showed the fighting and athleticism he’s made his career into.
TD Ierlan, FO, Redwoods (36 of 55, 65%, 24 GB in 2 games): The No.4 pick in the college draft dominated in his debut, winning 21 of 27 over Stephen Kelly and Co. in the Redwoods’ one-goal win over the Cannons. Performances like these are the reason why coach Nat St. Laurent was so worried about whether or not Ierlan would fall to his knees at No.4 in the draft, and was more than willing to trade in for his serves to do so. this jump to make his team even more complete. The arrival of DI’s all-time point guard gave the Woods a few goals with his exceptional performances, and the St. Laurent side are unbeaten because of him.
Christian Mazzone, M, Archers (2G, 2A, 4 points): The former Rutgers star player can play at both ends of the pitch without ever having a negative impact. He can switch to powerful dodgers without sprinkling over himself and can recover in time to help the defense turn appropriately. On the other hand, it’s usually not Mazzone who draws attention to such a loaded attack, but his four points led the assault on Atlas.
Jules Heningburg, M, Redwoods (5G, 2A, 7 points in 2 games): Joe Keegan of the PLL is adamant. Heningburg shouldn’t be faced with the short stick showdown, and for good reason. He’ll burn them down with an arsenal of moves coming around X and a two-way ability to create natural chemistry with his teammates. On a midfielder who also includes Sergio Perkovic and Myles Jones, it’s choosing your poison for the opposing defensive coordinators.
Sergio Perkovic, M, Redwoods (4G, 1-2 points, 6 points in 2 games): While Perkovic shot 33% against the Cannons, his mark of 60% against Chrome deserves to be recognized. His 2 points put the game out of reach early on as St. Laurent’s squad kept Chrome in a comfortable cushion throughout, but Perkovic’s defense at the other end was also impressive. They don’t try to use him in a two-way role like they did last season, but when he’s ‘stuck’ there more often than not he pushes the dodgers off their line and doesn’t. give up nothing easy.
Lyle Thompson, A, Cannons (6G, 1A, 7 points in 2 games): Thompson’s arrival at the PLL was marked in spectacular fashion with his first touch turning into a signature backhand goal with the shot clock running out. He makes goalkeepers guess with his supernatural shooting accuracy, and Thompson’s ability to create an attack when given the smallest slither of space will never fail to impress. He will always get his, no matter what professional lacrosse league is.
Rob Pannell, A, Redwoods (5G, 4A, 9 points in 2 games): Pannell looked a lot more comfortable with the surrounding cast of Redwoods than he ever did as a member of Atlas, and this showed in the two contests he played this weekend. Pannell can score with the slightest step up when he takes that quick little spin around the post, or he can revert to his classic question mark – which we’ve both seen in full screen. This Redwoods offense is going to be hard to stop.
Zed Williams, A, Whipsnakes (4 goals on 13 shots, 4 TB): Zedzilla looks even fitter and more unstoppable after his 2020 Championship Series campaign. He told Bob Chavez he had put on 20 pounds of muscle during the offseason, and when he worked his way past Jack Rowlett on his way to jump over him and into the top right corner of the net. Blaze Riorden, well there isn’t too much you can do about it. He, along with the rest of the Whips’ offense, however, got a bit too sloppy in the second half and especially in the fourth quarter. Still, Williams has proven with his physique and skills that there wouldn’t be much of a chance to keep him this summer if you’re going to leave him on an island.