2022 PLL Champions: Waterdogs

Waterdogs Become The Third Franchise To Win The PLL Championship

Brendan Staff, Staff Writer

Two weekends ago the Waterdogs became the third franchise ever to win the PLL Championship. You might be wondering, what is the PLL? It is the Premier Lacrosse League, the newest and only professional outdoor lacrosse league. In the league’s short history of 4 years, there had only been two champions, the Whipsnakes taking the first two, and the Chaos stopping their three-peat attempt in 2021. The 2022 championship was the first ever played without the Whipsnakes. This year, the Waterdogs got in the way of the Chaos’ two-peat and became the 2022 champions.

The Waterdogs were the league’s first expansion team, announced back in 2020. After the league’s 7th team was announced, fans were eager for a uniform reveal. Right before the season, the highly anticipated uniforms were finally unveiled. On July 8 2020, lacrosse fans were introduced to some of the best uniforms ever seen, with arguably the cleanest lids in the entire league. It was made clear that the Waterdogs believe in a look good play good mentality.

After the Chaos won last year’s title, one could say they had a little too much fun in the post win locker room party and ended up breaking the trophy. The league took this opportunity, not to fix the old trophy, but to rather make a brand new one. The PLL partnered with Tiffany&Co. to create the CashApp Championship Trophy, featuring engravings of previous champions, similar to that of the Stanley Cup. 2022’s championship game was not only a battle to be the best in the league, but to also be the first team to hoist this brand new trophy.

Before the playoffs started, fans took a vote on who they thought would win it all. Coming in at the bottom two spots were the Waterdogs with a 6.2% chance to win and the Chaos with a 2.8% chance to win. Both teams defied odds and ended up playing best when it mattered most, making the championship game. The Waterdogs came into the playoffs at a 5-5 record led by sophomore Michael Sowers. Meanwhile the Chaos were able to sneak in the playoffs as the last seed, similar to last year at a 2-8 record. The Waterdogs played good team offense scoring above 11 points in every game. Despite just a one goal difference in the semi-finals, the Waterdogs were able to upset the league and make the championship. In typical Chaos fashion, reigning league MVP Blaze Riorden and the rest of the team turned it on in the playoffs. The Chaos defense only gave up 10 points through the first two games of the playoffs, playing in front of goalie Blaze Riorden, posting an unreal 75% save percentage. The championship game was set, the best playoff offense headed up against the best playoff defense.

The Chaos got off to an early 4-1 start with the defense playing lowdown. However, in the second quarter, the Waterdogs scored 4 straight goals, with a goal and an assist by attackman Michael Sowers. Neither team budged, going into halftime tied 5-5. Michael Sowers and Jack Hannah were able to get their team to another 4 goal run to start the second half, with the title in sight. However, Blaze Riorden had other plans. Midway through the third quarter Riorden made a great save, and threw a full field outlet pass to Matt Reese. It was a bad time to be a bottom corner as Reese sniped a 2 pointer bringing the Chaos to within 2. With eight minutes left in the game the score was 10-9 in favor of the Waterdogs. Waterdogs goalie Dillon Ward, saving 62% of shots, went on to shut out the Chaos for the rest of the game. Midfielder Connor Kelly put one away with 4 minutes left in the game, giving the Waterdogs a 11-9 lead. The game was far from over, but the Waterdogs were able to hold on to their lead. Despite a 17 save game from Blaze Riorden, 9 points is usually not enough to win a lacrosse game in the PLL giving the Waterdogs the title.

Outstanding performers for the Waterdogs included Michael Sowers with 3 points and Dillon Ward with a 62% save percentage. Michael Sowers scored his way into earning the playoff MVP, consistently leading his team in offense throughout the playoffs. 2022’s playoff was one to remember with numerous upsets and a new champion.