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Austin Kaut surpassed 1,000 career saves after he came on in relief of Blaze Riorden.

Kaut Replaces Injured Riorden, Backstops Chaos to Season-Opening Win

June 3, 2024
Phil Shore
Premier Lacrosse League

It wasn’t easy, but for the first time in team history, the Carolina Chaos won the first game of a season by beating the Denver Outlaws 16-11.

One of the big reasons for the lack of opening weekend success in the past for the Chaos was that many of their core players were unavailable due to the overlapping schedules between the PLL and NLL. With the NLL Finals wrapping up May 19, and a smaller contingent of players on the Buffalo Bandits, the Chaos had all players from the 30-man roster at training camp, including Josh Byrne and Ian MacKay.

“To have this week has been massive for us,” MacKay said. “Instead of jumping in in week two or three and jumping right into a game after a practice, you saw it today. It’s done wonders for us.”

Though they came away with a victory, there were a number of obstacles to overcome. While Carolina outscored Denver 5-2 in the second quarter to take a 7-4 lead into halftime, the Outlaws scored the first three goals of the third quarter and five of the first six, including a two-pointer.

The Chaos came out aggressive in the fourth quarter, scoring five consecutive goals — including a couple two-pointers — by five different players, outscoring the Outlaws 7-1.

Carolina also went most of the game without four-time Goalie of the Year Blaze Riorden. Playing at his alma mater, Riorden suffered a non-contact left-knee injury in the second quarter and did not return.

Backup Austin Kaut, who has played sparingly since joining the PLL, not only made eight saves, but he also was the calming force that helped settle the Chaos in the second half while the Outlaws were riding a wave of momentum.

“There was worry right away seeing Blazey go into the tent,” MacKay said. “It was a quick turnaround getting him off the field and getting back out there and playing. I think you saw that. They ended up scoring a couple goals before halftime. They came out hot in the third quarter.

“Going into the fourth, Kauter came in and said he wasn’t playing to his standard and what he wanted, and he was going to step up for us in the fourth quarter. That definitely gave us some confidence, not that we didn’t have it with him before, but to hear him voice that and coming form himself in there stepping in for Blaze, that gave us a blanket of confidence going into the fourth and to play freely.”

Kaut eclipsed the 1,000 save mark for his career, passing Brian Dougherty for seventh on the all-time list.

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Outlaws head coach Tim Soudan heaped praise on Kaut, a player he was familiar with from their time going against each other in Major League Lacrosse.

“It’s Blaze 2.0. He’s really good,” he said. “I think we had his number there for a little bit, but then our shot selection on a couple, he was able to make saves on. He made a kick save at one point on a deep shot that I thought was a good shot from [Graham] Bundy. He’s a veteran goalie. It’s just unfortunate he’s sitting behind Blaze at this point, and he’s very, very good.”

Offensively, Carolina was led by three short-stick defensive midfielders: MacKay (three goals), Sergio Perkovic (two goals, including one two-pointer) and Patrick Resch (one goal, one assist). Rookie Ross Scott also scored twice.

For Denver, Logan Wisnauskas (three goals, one assist) and Sam Handley (two one-point goals, one two-point goal) tied for the team lead with four points. First overall pick Brennan O’Neill scored a goal and added an assist.


The New York Atlas was the first team to host a homecoming weekend, the first to experience the physical strain of playing games on back-to-back days, and the first team in 2024 to sweep in front of a home crowd.

New York beat the Maryland Whipsnakes 17-13 behind another dominant performance from both Jeff Teat (three goals, four assists) and Trevor Baptiste (74.1 faceoff winning percentage, 11 ground balls, one goal).

“I told our players, today was all about triply, extra, extra empty, draining that tank down to the fumes, and I said, ‘Guys, when it’s over, you’re going to be hallucinating today,’” head coach Mike Pressler said. “Sure enough, every guy that stepped on that field gave it everything he could.”

Even without rookie Connor Shellenberger, out with an injury the day after scoring eight points in his debut, the Atlas offense was firing on all cylinders. New York scored the first seven goals, four of which came from fellow Virginia alums Xander Dickson and Dox Aitken.

While the Whipsnakes outscored the Atlas in each of the next two periods, Pressler said the key was never letting Maryland get within a goal. While Maryland had the final four scores of the second quarter to close within five goals, New York responded with four consecutive scores to start the second half, keeping the game out of reach.

Rookie TJ Malone led the charge for the Whipsnakes with three goals and three assists, while veteran Mike Chanenchuk scored three goals, two of which were two-pointers.

Maryland goalie Kyle Bernlohr, the 2022 Goalie of the Year, was pulled in the first quarter after allowing six goals and making zero saves. Brendan Krebbs, who earned the backup role after the retirement of Brian Phipps, made nine saves on 20 shots on goal.