By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director
COLUMBUS, Ohio – History will be made this weekend in Philadelphia. The Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) will showcase the best of its best in the inaugural championship game to cap off the league's first season. Capital University head men's lacrosse coach, Dom Marzano, will be a part of the historic weekend as he assumes his post as assistant coach to one of the teams vying for the championship trophy.
No. 4 Redwoods LC vs. No. 2 Whipsnakes LC
September 21, 2019 | 2:30 p.m. on NBC
Talen Engery Stadium (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Dom Marzano, now in his fourth season leading the Crusaders men's lacrosse program, accepted a position to serve as the assistant coach for Redwoods LLC, one of six teams comprising the PLL in its debut season. The Redwoods, led by Ohio Northern University head coach Nat St. Laurent, finished 5-5 in the regular season after making the first trade in PLL history - one that Marzano was heavily involved in with his role in personnel - and kept building up the roster to make a playoff run. They advanced to the postseason via a score differential tiebreaker and earned the No. 4 seed in the championship tournament.
The Redwoods won each of its two playoff matches and did so while breeding one of the best atmospheres of the season in Columbus at Mapfre Stadium on Sept. 6. The Redwoods' first win came in a 16-12 victory over the third-seeded Archers LC. They then followed that up last weekend in Albany, N.Y. with a 12-7 upset win over the top seed, Chaos LC.
Marzano said of the postseason experience, "All year, every game has been extremely close. Anybody can beat anybody. The experience in Columbus was the best lacrosse experience I've ever had in my life … they were loud and created an environment where we felt like we were the home team, for the first time I've seen it the whole year … on the lacrosse side of it, we won. It was a great win. We just kind of caught fire."
Back-to-back playoff wins have landed Marzano and the Redwoods in the PLL championship game, which will be aired live on national television this Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia. The Redwoods will play Whipsnakes LC at 2:30 p.m. at Talen Energy Stadium, home of the MLS's Philadelphia Union, and will be broadcasted live on NBC.
Marzano and the Redwoods split the season series with the Whipsnakes this year, 1-1. The Whipsnakes have MVP-favorite Matt Rambo and his league-leading 42 points (19-23-42), while Jules Heningburg paces the Redwoods as a top-five scorer in points (33) and goals (21).
"We have a lot of men on these team that are extremely motivated in situations like these," said Marzano. "The big thing for the last couple of weeks has been 'worry about us'. Do a little bit of scout and stuff like that but at this point, we have vets that are stepping up and controlling everything. We have a defense that is playing lights out. It's a true thing that we are gaining momentum. There is a lot of confidence."
The championship game will be the second match played on Championship Saturday. The other will be between Archers LC and Atlas LC at 11:30 a.m. The winner of that contest will earn the number one overall draft pick in the 2020 PLL Draft.
"The way that NBC has been televising the games, it's great to watch," said Marzano. "If you've seen a game, it's easy to view … the exposure nationally, what it is doing for the sport, I think you are getting a lot of viewers because of NBC partnership. It is growing the game naturally."
The PLL has made a huge splash in its inaugural year. The multi-million dollar partnership with NBC was just the tip of the iceberg that kicked off a wave of coverage and deals that continue to grow including Adidas, Gatorade, Icebreakers, and Capital One. ESPN has on multiple occasions featured highlight plays on its Top 10 list, social media engagement numbers are dwarfing other professional sport leagues and franchises, and Sports Illustrated is one of many publications to write on how the PLL may very well be changing the game of professional lacrosse and its coverage.
Marzano will enter the 2020 season with the Crusaders behind a 34-15 overall record and 20-5 record while at CU. Last year, the Crusaders won the OAC Regular Season Championship and posted a flawless 9-0 conference record while setting multiple program milestones, including wins in a single season (15).