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The Redwoods ended their winless streak on the strength of a four-goal fourth quarter against Boston.

Winless No More: Redwoods Dominate Fourth Quarter Against Cannons

July 6, 2024
Kyle Devitte
Premier Lacrosse League

BOSTON, Mass. — The California Redwoods got their first win of the season against the host Boston Cannons, 9-7, thanks to a four-goal run in the fourth quarter. It came at the best time for Redwoods head coach Nat St. Laurent’s squad, which was starting to stack up turnovers in their settled sets.

But PLL games change as quickly as the weather. With the score 7-5 in favor of the Cannons heading into the fourth quarter, it seemed like all Boson had to do was keep the game in front of them and make the most of their possessions. 

But it’s hard to get possessions when you’re facing off against TD Ierlan.

Going into the game, the Redwoods led the league in faceoff win percentage with a 68.4-percent win rate. Ierlan went 12-for-17 and scooped seven ground balls. His tenacity after the draw was also on display as he chased down some of those loose balls into a crowd of wingmen. The goals didn’t come right away, but the Redwoods did keep pace for the entire first half.

The silky soft hands of Wes Berg on the interior kept the Redwoods offense in the game early, as he converted passes that looked more like shots than assist attempts. That plan of getting deep into the shot clock was in place going into the game.

“Our gameplan all week was two words: discipline and composure,” St. Laurent said. “Have the discipline to not go for a home run play, don’t do it yourself. So, early on in the game, we wanted to go deep in the shot clock, and we were OK with shot clock violations. What we didn’t want was guys going 1-on-1 throwing the ball away or shooting muffins that would result in a clean save getting up and out.”

This was a homecoming for Billerica, Mass., short-stick Jeff Trainor. To his credit, he did everything he could to get his team over the line, finishing with a goal and an assist, both coming in transition at key points in the game for Boston. He also ate this shot on his first shift of the game like a champ.

“You know I wanted to give Trainor some love,” Cannons coach Brian Holman said. “I think that was a good plan; he had a goal and an assist. We want all of our short sticks to be on the board. Bubba [Fairman] hasn’t gotten on there yet, but he’s had some opportunities, and [Connor] Kirst is the swing guy in that group — but Jeff is just a super lacrosse player.” 

Boston’s offense fed a steady dose of the two-man game on the high wing with Marcus Holman and whichever midfielder was carrying the top side as well as Asher Nolting playing bully ball at goal line extended. The first part of that plan worked really well, as Holman had the Cannons’ first three goals. However, as the game went on, it was obvious that the Redwoods defense became more and more comfortable defending Boston’s iso play and diagonal skip looks. 

The Cannons didn’t get a lot of points from their midfield (three), and stat sheet mainstays like Ryan Drenner and Matt Kavanagh didn’t get a ton of touches either. But that was not by design.

“There was no plan on getting guys more touches,” Brian Holman said. “Our offense is based on ball movement and flow. One thing I know is that until I see the film I won’t be sure why it looked like that or what it was.”

Chris Gray’s goal with 5:03 left turned out to be the dagger for the Redwoods, who kept working to get more and more possessions to close out the game. Gray, who dutifully moved the ball through X all game, led the Redwoods in scoring with a hat trick by picking his spots and getting to the cage naturally. 

“To have both of these guys here [Gray and LSM Jared Conners] has been great,” St. Laurent said. “I know that we took a lot of heat for trading our draft picks away, but we would make those moves again in a heartbeat. I was really happy to see those guys play the way they have — you have Chris being able to play the way he has and score some big goals for us … it got us going early and put it away for us late.”

The PLL’s return to Harvard Stadium brought with it the return of Cannons fans from the sport’s Major League Lacrosse days. Attendance was not announced, but it was comparable to some of the best crowds that the first iteration of the Cannons drew years ago. Boston has a chance at redemption it they faces off against the Philadelphia Waterdogs at 7 p.m. in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader. 

“The beauty of this is that we get to come back tomorrow and play another one,” Brian Holman said.


A blowout from the jump, the New York Atlas brought their apocalyptic offense to Boston and the Denver Outlaws had no answer for it. Jeff Teat had a hat trick before halftime and finished the game with nine points. He is now on the precipice of breaking the PLL scoring record with 44 points — in just six games.

Xander Dickson, the PLL’s leading goal-scorer going into the game, had his title usurped by teammate Jeff Teat, who has 20 goals to Dickson’s 18.

Liam Entenmann was also on top of his game, making 14 saves in his first career PLL start.

“I was obviously pretty excited about it,” Entenmann said. “It’s something I have dreamt of for a long time. I was pretty comfortable out there tonight and that’s largely because of the guys I have in front of me. The defensive guys, Trevor [Baptiste at the dot], and the offensive guys doing their part — it’s not anything I can take a big piece of credit for.”

First-overall draft pick Brennan O’Neill was held in check by the Atlas defense and went 0-for-3 from the field, but Denver’s ball carriers didn’t get him the ball all that much. He finished with just eight touches.

There’s not a lot to take away from this game other than what most people knew coming into it — the Atlas are playing on another level. The Outlaws are still figuring things out on both sides of the ball. And games like this happen sometimes in professional lacrosse.

“It’s hard to win in this league,” Outlaws attackman Justin Anderson said. “If you don’t come and show up and give it your absolute all from the get-go, it’s going to be hard to beat any team. It doesn’t matter who they are. Obviously, we ran into a really hot Atlas team, and I thought they did a phenomenal job. We just did not match that energy.”