Professional outdoor lacrosse makes its return to Long Island this weekend when the Premier Lacrosse League brings its tour-based model into Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium for five games, beginning Friday night and continuing Saturday and Sunday.
It will be the first time the outdoor pro game has been played on Long Island since the New York Lizards of Major League Lacrosse last played at Hofstra in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic caused MLL to play a condensed 2020 season over a two-week period last summer in a bubble in Maryland. Then in December, MLL merged with PLL, with the two leagues continuing under the PLL name and model. One MLL team, the Boston Cannons, joined the new league.
The PLL coming to Long Island, to some the heart of the sport, means a homecoming for many of the league’s players, including Will Manny and Rob Pannell, who are from Massapequa and Smithtown, respectively, and who both played for the Lizards in their pro career.
"That’s where my career began, in the front yard with my dad, him using a baseball mitt and me having a catch, and then going to St. Anthony’s and having success there,’’ Manny said when asked about returning to Long Island. "I’m just really excited to play in front of my family, my grandparents, and just, everybody that’s supported me the past 29 years.’’
Manny’s family will get to see him play two games. Archers, the only undefeated team (3-0) so far this season, will play Chrome (1-2) on Friday night at 7 p.m., and then will face the league’s two-time defending champion Whipsnakes on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
Pannell, the winner of the Tewaaraton Trophy as the best player in college lacrosse in 2013 at Cornell, joined the PLL in 2020 and played for Atlas. He was traded to Redwoods LC this season and enters the weekend as the league's leading scorer with 16 points, on nine one-point goals and seven assists.
"A lot of guys in the league have a lot of great memories in [Shuart] Stadium, and for me, in particular, that was home and my favorite place to play on Long Island, playing there for seven years with the Lizards,’’ Pannell said. "To have the PLL come back where some of the MLL teams used to play, I think it’s amazing, and it’s an opportunity for Long Island to show their love for lacrosse, to come out and support the PLL, and watch the greatest lacrosse that there is.’’
Redwoods (2-2) plays Waterdogs (2-2) Saturday at noon in the first game of a doubleheader that sees the rebranded Cannons LC (1-3) against 1-3 Chaos, scheduled for 3 p.m. The Cannons feature attackman Lyle Thompson, who joined PLL this season and is widely regarded as the best lacrosse player in the world, and midfielder Paul Rabil, the co-founder of the PLL and a former Lizard.
Rabil and Thompson are tied for third in scoring in the league with 13 points each. Thompson has 10 one-point goals and three assists, while Rabil has nine one-point goals, one two-point goal, and two assists. Rabil also is on the verge of becoming professional outdoor lacrosse’s all-time leading scorer. He enters the weekend with 641 points in his 14-year career, two points behind leader John Grant Jr.
Sunday’s schedule sees Chrome vs. Atlas (2-2) in the second game of the doubleheader.
What to know about PLL Weekend at Shuart Stadium
What is the PLL?
The Premier Lacrosse League is the top professional outdoor lacrosse league. Established in 2019, PLL competed with Major League Lacrosse for two seasons before the two leagues merged in December and moved ahead with the PLL name and tour-based concept.
How is PLL different from MLL?
The PLL uses a tour-based concept, where all eight teams barnstorm around the country, playing tournament-style lacrosse in a different location every weekend. It has a 52-second shot clock, making for faster play.
Who are the top players to watch?
Paul Rabil, co-founder of the league (along with his brother, Mike Rabil) is 35 but still one of the league’s top players. He has nine 1-point goals and one 2-pointer this season, and is two points away from tying John Grant, Jr., as the all-time leading scorer in professional outdoor lacrosse. Rabil’s Cannons teammate, Lyle Thompson, is widely regarded as the best player in the world. Rookie Jeff Teat, of Atlas, the No. 1 pick in the 2021 PLL draft, had seven goals and two assists in his last game.
When are the games?
Friday, 7 p.m.
Archers (3-0) vs. Chrome (1-2)
Saturday, starting at noon
Redwoods (2-2) vs. Waterdogs (2-2)
Cannons (1-3) vs. Chaos (1-3),
Sunday, starting at 12:30 p.m.
Whipsnakes (3-1) vs. Archers
Chome vs. Atlas (2-2).
How can I get tickets?
Tickets are available at premierlacrosseleague.com or through Ticketmaster.