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Maryland Whipsnakes rookie Levi Anderson in his PLL debut against the New York Atlas in Minnesota

PLL Week 4: Whips Win with Rookies, Cannons with Long Ball

June 29, 2024
Jack Goods
Premier Lacrosse League

EAGAN, Minn. – The Premier Lacrosse League’s Indigenous Heritage Weekend kicked off with a glimpse into the future — or perhaps the present.

Rookies accounted for 12 points for the Maryland Whipsnakes in a 16-12 upset Friday of the previously undefeated New York Atlas, a representation of a changing of the guard on one of the league’s more consistent rosters.

“I’ve challenged them,” Whipsnakes coach Jim Stagnitta said. “I didn’t think we played hard the first couple games, at least not the level you need to play to win games in this league. We’ve made some adjustments to the lineup and we’ve asked guys to come out and earn it every week. What you did last week, what we did two years ago, what we did three years ago has no impact on today.”

As Stagnitta noted, he’s worked with fundamentally the same team for the past five years. There was little reason to adjust — the franchise was competing in and often winning championships.

Yet, the threat of stagnation loomed.

“We needed to get hungrier again and we needed to become more athletic,” Stagnitta said.

The new crop has brought that intended impact, starting with potentially the steal of the draft in TJ Malone. But it was two players making their PLL debuts Saturday that were particularly of note, Levi Anderson and Adam Poitras.

Anderson, the Saint Joseph’s grad acquired in a trade with the Redwoods, scored twice and dished out an assist while displaying a knack for getting to the cage.

Poitras, who Stagnitta was told was like a more offensive-minded Matt Abbott by the Loyola staff, scored twice and showed off his silky mitts.

“They didn’t play like rookies today,” Atlas coach Mike Pressler said. “They were lights out.”

Atlas got out to a 5-1 advantage early, with Bryan Costabile giving the squad its largest lead with a minute and a half remaining in the first quarter. But New York scored just once more in the first half, allowing Maryland to flip the script and take an advantage it never relinquished.

“We got off to a hot start and then I think we let our foot off the ground a little bit,” Costabile said. “Offense, defense, everywhere, I think we got kind of complacent. If you’re going to be a great team, you’ve got to continue to push when things are good and when things are bad.”

Malone continued his hot start with three points, while Zed Williams scored twice and reminded all watching of the importance of this weekend. He wielded a traditional wooden stick at the start of the contest while donning one of eight Indigenous Heritage uniforms designed by Ojibwe artist Patrick Hunter.

“I’m just trying to honor my ancestors who blessed us with this game,” Williams said.

New York also worked in a pair of rookies, with Jake Stevens and Payton Cormier making their debuts. Liam Entenmann, fresh off a national championship at Notre Dame, got his first game experience after Pressler opted to make a change in cage in the second half. He made four saves on six attempts.


After a brief lighting delay, the Boston Cannons closed the night by riding 2-pointers to victory.

Boston hit five times from long range, the most ever in a PLL game, to down Utah 14-9.

“Our spacing was really great,” said Matt Campbell, who got the party started with a pair of two bombs in the first half. “Our ball movement was amazing. That just opened up the opportunities, and we just were really confident in our shooting. We weren’t second guessing.”

The deep shot was critical to the Cannons pulling away down the stretch. Ryan Drenner capitalized on a last-second opportunity with four seconds remaining in the third quarter, with his long-range skip shot just bouncing past Brett Dobson to give Boston a 10-9 advantage.

“Dren knocking down a two from out there? That’s pretty unique,” Cannons coach Brian Holman said. “He said he was going to hit one. He likes when the rain gets on the turf a little bit. He said before the game, ‘This is a shooter’s turf.’”

After Connor Fields pulled the Archers back within one, Drenner hit from deep again. Chris Aslanian put the final nail in the coffin five minutes into the fourth to set the two-point record.

Campbell finished with six points, with Aslanian and Drenner close behind with four.

“The Archers are such a worthy opponent,” Holman said. “They are the champs, and that’s what we talked about this week. We’re an organization that’s continuing to try to reach higher levels. We want to go out there and honor the Archers by the way we play, and I thought we played really hard.”