A six game weekend is a whole lot of action to take in. Two teams, more or less, locked up their postseason appearances, while one fell off the cliff. Another two spots are wide open and still up for grabs. Something is telling us that it won’t be Ohio, Denver, New York, and Charlotte like last season. Before you glue yourself to the five games on the horizon, let’s rewind a bit.
When you’re on the cusp of making the playoffs for the first time in organization history, dropping a game to Chesapeake, 18-10, is a recipe for disaster. It put them on a level playing field with Rochester, Chesapeake, and New York, and momentum starts to work against them. But, lucky for the Launch, they had another game that weekend to get things back on track.
Well, that’s exactly what they did. Not squabbling a chance to use a struggling team to recover what they had lost, the Launch came firing out of the gates and pinned two quick goals against Charlotte. By the end of the first 15 minutes, Florida was up, 7-2, and looking mighty confident. They only lost one quarter to the Hounds and it was only be a mere 2 goals. In game two, 7 different shooters found the back of the net, despite Dylan Molloy racking up an astounding 6 goals of his own. Tack on a hat trick from Kieran McArdle and it looks like Florida finally has guys that will just strap up the backpack and carry the load.
It’s an improvement from Thursday night, where they fell to the Bayhawks for the second time in a row. Nick Mariano was 4 goals deep then, but Molloy and McArdle were the only others to hit double-digits, nabbing 2 a piece. The offense was stagnant at times, unlike on Saturday when they put on a clinic in front of the home crowd. The win gives just a little extra breathing room, Florida pulling a half game ahead of the pack searching for one of the two remaining spots. To hold on, and keep hope alive, this weekend’s showdown with the already eliminated Cannons means more than ever. If they lose it’s bad news bears, but it’s not over there. Everyone else has two games left and there’s going to be a lot of cheering for Denver and Ohio to continue their hot streaks and knock off the Launch’s competitors.
Launch, Bayhawks and Rattlers Ready to Win
There’s pretty much two responses to not making the playoffs. Work relentlessly in the offseason to prepare and leave it all on the field through every game. Or, it can become the expectation and a culture of laziness surrounded in losing can develop in the locker room. While Ohio and Denver are either one win, or an argument away, from their tickets to the postseason, the other two spots, occupied by Charlotte and New York are still up for grabs.
By the looks of recent efforts, Florida, Chesapeake, and Rochester are right alongside New York for the opportunity. We already discussed the Launch’s situation, but don’t think the Hawks and Snakes will give the other two a run for their money. Rochester, New York, and Chesapeake are all gridlocked at 6-6, 2 games back from the leader and a half point behind Florida.
The Bayhawks have won 3 of their last 4 games, including a split series with Florida. They stomped the Ratz by 10 and have pulled off double digits in every game this season. The problem lies mostly on the defensive end, where they are struggling to close game and keep opponents under 10. Rookie Josh Byrne has brought a whole new element to an offense that should expectedly be led by Myles Jones of Lyle Thompson every game, Yet, Byrne punched in 4 goals last weekend, bringing him up to 28 on the season, 35 total points. Unfortunately the road could be much harder for the Hawks, having to work through a home and away stand with the top-ranked Outlaws in their last two games.
Rochester, on the other hand, won’t have it a whole lot easier. They’ve got to deal with an angry Atlanta squad and the other top-ranked contender in Ohio. After they got borderline embarrassed by Chesapeake, the Rattlers have come out each game with a chip on their shoulder and started by crushing Boston, 21-9, followed by breaking down the Outlaws, 18-12. 39 goals in two games is highly notable and the effort they’re getting out of their highly box-laden roster is paying dividends. Last week it was Jordan MacIntosh and John Ranagan with 4 goals each, but they’re still carrying a load of guys that can find the twine.
New York is in a very unique position. While they have heavily benefitted from their infamous trade with Boston, they aren’t going big. They snuck past Ohio by 1, lost to Atlanta by 2, and only took down the bottom ranking Hounds and Cannons by 3 and 2 goals respectively. For a team that really seems to gel well, and has strong familiarity, their offense just isn’t clicking like it should. Will Manny is doing an absurd amount of work with 13 points in 4 games, and no one is coming close to matching those kind of number. Joe Walters and Matt Gibson put in a hat trick last weekend, but it hasn’t been consistent, just like Rabil, Walsh, and Pannell. On paper, this team should be beating the pants off of everyone. They’ll try to work things out on the road in Ohio this weekend, but with the way the Machine are playing it’s going to be a tight squeeze. Based on what happens this weekend, their season ending showdown with Charlotte could be a do-or-die thriller.
Denver (almost) Clinched Without a Win
After the Outlaws rolled in to Central Ohio and pulled out with a last second win, they were looking a the solo leaders of the regular season. Then the Machine flew into the Mile High City and returned the favor, positioning both teams at the top of the league, 8-6, and realistically no way of not seeing the postseason.
Well, that might not be exactly true. Now that Ohio and Denver are tied a 8 wins, no one can clinch at 8, right now. If Denver, or Ohio, can’t win another game, it comes down to yet another headache to figure out who moves on. Can you two just get the job done so we don’t run into another fiasco like last year?
Denver has to see the Bayhawks twice, after not linking up all season long. The Machine might have it a bit easier, though their opponents, New York and Rochester, will blood thirsty and desperate. If these two met up again for the MLL Championship, I don’t think many lacrosse fans are going to be mad about it. The best in the world deserve to play the best.
Boston Officially Eliminated
Well, it’s all over for the Boston Cannons for another season. They made the postseason in 2015, only to fall short in the semis. Dropping their most recent three games of the 2017 season was what did them in this year. The worst part about this, they’re the only team completely eliminated from the race and yet they’re the only ones that have three games left on the docket.
You can’t point the fingers at the trade with New York gone awry. Boston has more than enough firepower to live on without Will Manny, but it looks like the locker room died of a broken heart. It’s hard to go out and care when you know that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, but they’re still in a position to go out and ruin a few other seasons.
Thursday, July 13th
● Cannons 14, Lizards 16
● Outlaws 12, Rattlers 18
● Launch 10, Bayhawks 18
Saturday, July 15th
● Hounds 12, Launch 18
● Bayhawks 13, Blaze 12
Sunday, July 16th
● Machine 13, Outlaws 12
Thursday, July 27th
● Bayhawks @ Outlaws – 4pm, Sports Authority FIeld
● Cannons @ Hounds – 7:30pm, Legion Stadium
Saturday, July 15th
● Launch @ Cannons – 6pm, Harvard Stadium
● Rattlers @ Blaze – 7pm, Fifth Third Bank Stadium
● Lizards @ Machine – 7pm, Fortess Obetz