By Caroline Darney | August 9, 2020 | Reprinted from msn.com | Photo credit: Premier Lacrosse League
Zed Williams and the Whipsnakes are the 2020 Premier Lacrosse League champions after taking down the Chaos, 12-6. The Whipsnakes finished the game on a 10-0 run, including outscoring the Chaos 9-0 in the fourth quarter. Williams, a 2017 Virginia graduate, had five goals in that 9-0 run and finished with six for the game en route to winning the Championship Series MVP.
“I know the whole game our defense was keeping us in it, and Kyle [Bernlohr] was standing on his head. I knew they [the Whipsnakes defense] were going to give us possessions,” Williams said, with a smile on his face before giving the Chaos goalie, Blaze Riordan (14 saves), a ton of credit. “Riordan was stuffing me out, and I know I had to make something happen.”
“This was for my dad,” Zed said as he got choked up, gesturing to the MVP trophy before returning to his team. Williams’s father passed in 2017 during Zed’s fourth year at Virginia.
Williams finished the three-week event as the leading goal scorer with 20 goals and three assists as the Whipsnakes went a perfect 6-0. He saved his best performance for last, rattling off goal after goal as his team climbed back into the game.
“The guy Zed, man, we gotta give credit to him,” Matt Rambo (one goal, three assists) said of his teammate’s performance. “He stepped up big. We started moving the ball so, thank God we have Zed on the team now.”
The Whipsnakes won the inaugural PLL championship in 2019, but this is Williams’s first as he was added to the squad with the 2020 Entry Draft.
“Just unbelievable,” Whips goalie Kyle Bernlohr (16 saves, six goals allowed) replied postgame when asked to describe Williams and his run. “He’s the nicest guy I’ve ever met in my life. Individually, he’s just so talented. Just an unbelievable draft pick by Coach Stags [Jim Stagnitta]. I can’t say enough good things about Zed.”
The Whips got on the board first with a score from Mike Chanenchuk, and Williams’s first of the day gave the squad a 2-0 lead early in the first quarter.
The Chaos got rolling, scoring four straight to take a 4-2 lead into the halftime break. Brad Smith scored the Whipsnakes’ lone third quarter goal, but the Chaos added two, sending the latter into the final 12 minutes of the game with a 6-3 lead.
Then a switch flipped.
John Haus made it a two-goal game, then Zed’s second brought the Whipsnakes within one at 6-5. Williams would go on to score four goals over a 1:56 span as the Whips erased the deficit and took the lead for good.
Williams capped off his scoring with his sixth of the day — tying a PLL record for goals in a game — in dramatic fashion.
“You certainly have got to credit Zed Williams and the way he shot the ball down the stretch,” Chaos head coach Andy Towers said after the game. “Listen, that kid hit some incredible shots against arguably the best player, and definitely the best goalie, on the planet. Credit to him.”