Whipsnakes LC and Waterdogs LC will face each other for a second year in a row in the PLL semifinals. We have the highlighted odds and best picks for the first semifinal matchup with our Whipsnakes-Waterdogs picks.
Don’t let the seeding discrepancy between these two teams fool you. The Waterdogs and Whipsnakes met twice in the regular season and both contests were one-goal nail biters.
In Week 2, the Waterdogs held a lead over the Whipsnakes for three quarters, until their faceoff guy Jake Withers went down with an injury and forced two-way midfielder Zach Currier to take the faceoff. Their 9-4 lead slipped away in the fourth quarter and ultimately it was midfielder Brad Smith who called game in overtime for the Whips.
Three weeks later, despite still being riddled with injuries, the Waterdogs earned the 11-10 win over the Whipsnakes. This was the Whips’ single loss in the season, thanks to a huge fourth quarter by Dogs’ team MVP attacker Kieran McArdle with three goals.
In what will be a true test for both teams, a trip to the championship is on the line Sunday.
Whipsnakes vs. Waterdogs Game Info
Date/Time: Sunday, Sept. 11, 1 p.m. ET
Location: Audi Field, Washington D.C.
Weather: 82 degrees, 20% chance of precipitation, 7-mph wind
Whipsnakes vs. Waterdogs Picks
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Whipsnakes vs. Waterdogs ML Pick
Waterdogs (+135) ★★
I get it: they’re the Whipsnakes. They’re the archetype all PLL teams look up to, they’ve won two of three championship titles in league history, and their only playoff loss came in their championship game last season against the Chaos. They’re a team that’s had very few roster changes since their inaugural 2019 season, and a lot of them have shared playoff experience dating back to college, with so many Maryland guys on one roster.
The Waterdogs may have been the No. 1 seed last season, when the Whipsnakes knocked them out of the semifinals, but they’re a very different team than last year and a better one at that.
There’s a reason the Waterdogs were the only club to hand the Whipsnakes a loss this season. When the Whips first saw them in Week 2, the Waterdogs were still finding their footing. McArdle was splitting time on the attack with Ethan Walker as head coach Andy Copelan shifted guys around to see what worked offensively. Though it’s technically point guard Michael Sowers’ second season, he played only two total games last year: the opener versus the Cannons LC in Week 1 and the semifinals contest against the Whipsnakes. The Waterdogs also were without starting goaltender Dillon Ward, who was still playing in the NLL.
Still, with so much up in the air with this Waterdogs team, they kept a lead over the Whips for the first three quarters. They held the Whips scoreless in the first quarter, making Matt DeLuca one of just three goalies to do so this season - Ward was the second in Week 5. They ran into trouble when faceoff specialist Withers became injured and was pulled from the game. Their best midfielder Currier was forced to take faceoffs for the remainder of the game, limiting his production both offensively and defensively. While the game slipped away and the Waterdogs fell in overtime, things quickly turned around for the Dogs by the time they met the Whips in Week 5.
The Waterdogs went from an 0-3 season start to a five-game win streak, as the hottest team in the league. They defeated the Whipsnakes 11-10 the weekend before the All-Star break, the Whips' first and only regular season loss. Ward back in net, Withers at the stripe, and an attack commanded by a two-man game between Sowers and McArdle, the Dogs played a complete 48 minutes, something they didn’t do in Week 2. Arguably the biggest factor in their five-game win streak was not only their ability to play a full 48 minutes and close out games, but also overcome adversity when they didn’t hold a lead in the final minutes. We saw that in this particular game as McArdle scored three goals in the fourth quarter to will his team to a win.
What makes me believe this Waterdogs team can pull off an upset against the Whipsnakes isn’t because they’ve beaten them once already, it’s that we’ve seen the Dogs get better every week. No matter the injuries, or the goal deficit, they’ve played with zero excuses and executed when it mattered. They played their best game yet in the quarterfinals with a team-high 19 goals against the Atlas. While I don’t think they’ll drop 19 goals on goalie Kyle Bernlohr and the Whipsnakes’ defense, they struggled to maintain a large fourth quarter lead. It became 19-14 at the end, allowing the Atlas to go on a late run. The Waterdogs have yet to play their best lacrosse - they’re a pesky team with a versatile roster that plays a complete game every week, and they improve every week. They’ve beaten the Whips once, but they’ve continued to get better since.
Whipsnakes vs. Waterdogs ATS Pick
Waterdogs +1.5 (-120) ★★★
Last week I picked the Waterdogs to cover the spread even though I thought they’d win, and I’m doing the same again this week.
As I mentioned, the Waterdogs thrive in close situations as we’ve seen throughout the season. Even so, the Whipsnakes do, too. Of their nine wins, four were decided by one goal. Both times these teams met in the regular season, it was a one-goal game. So if the Whips do secure the win as the odds expect them to, I’d predict another one-goal game.
Whipsnakes vs. Waterdogs O/U Pick
Under 24.5 (-130) ★★★
There’s some good goaltending between these two teams. It’s safe to say Bernlohr is going to be the Goaltender of the Year winner this season, and when Ward last saw this Whipsnakes team in Week 5, he made 12 saves for the 67% save percentage, his personal season best.
Both times the Whips and Dogs met in the regular season they went Under. I expect the same here. Not only do the Whipsnakes have the best goaltender in the league, they have arguably the best defense. The Waterdogs' defense has proven to be a worthy opponent for the Whips and not just that, they have a powerful two-way midfield group.
For all of the above, I’m going Under 24.5 goals in what’s expected to be a close matchup.
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Whipsnakes vs. Waterdogs picks from 9/8/2022 at 11:07 a.m. ET.