Four-straight one goal games for the Rattlers, three for the Lizards, two for Chesapeake, and it seems like every other for Charlotte. The margins are tight and the scores have been relatively high. That is except for the Outlaws, only managing to put up nine goals against the Cannons, a major change from two weeks ago. We’re over halfway there at this point and every last game is going to matter. Ohio solved their problems this week, while Denver was caught slipping, and now we have a tie for first. The coming weekend gets longer by a game, Ohio getting an away and home split. If they play their cards right, the Machine could become our clear-cut leaders.
Rattlers 12, Lizards 13
The battle over New York State didn’t even begin to disappoint this year. Weirdly enough, the cold-blooded in-state rivals only match-up one time in the 2017 regular season. The Lizards got the chance to play host and thanks to an exemplary effort by Joe Walters in the fourth quarter, the home team pulled off the comeback victory.
Curtis Dickson got the party started for the Lizards, dip and dunking wide open on the doorstep. From there, John Ranagan, Ryan McNamara, and Kyle Denhoff spent the next three minutes stealing the thunder. Getting his motor running, Matt Gibson got on the board at the 12:23 mark, slowing down the Rattlers. Before the visitors could stretch their lead, Dickson circled back around with his second connection of the game to knot the score at three, ending the first quarter. The second frame was much more methodical, or as some would say, slow. Rochester star Jordan Wolf buried a pair of goals on either side New York’s Ryan Walsh in the first chunk of the period. Between the Rattlers pipes, John Galloway turned away a game-high 4 shots on cage, while his opposite, Drew Adams, got a piece of 2 attempts. Finally getting the best of Galloway again, Joe Walters notched his first for the Zards, but Jeremy Boltus had an almost immediate answer for it, on the other end. The quick exchange sent the Ratz up by a goal heading into the break.
Just 30 seconds in, we got to hear from Curtis Dickson again. Taking a quick feed from Walters straight to the rack and locking the game up at 6. Ranagan came back around for retaliation, but his one goal extension wouldn’t last long. The tandem of Gibson and Walsh would make their rounds once more, forcing the tie, then taking the lead for the first time since the opening goal. But, in order to make is exciting, that couldn’t stand for long. Boltus bounced back for his second tally of the game, turning around a one-timer from Jojo Marasco while tiptoeing the crease. Right on his heels, Wolf and Ranagan followed up by finishing their hat tricks. Watching the Rattlers pull off with a three goal lead, Joe Walters crept down the edge and touched one past Galloway to cut the difference to two.
To start the fourth quarter, Paul Rabil rang up his only goal of the night, 500th of his career. It would tie the game up and start what became an incredible show. Barely 30 seconds later, Walters finished his hat trick and put the Lizards ahead by one. Insert another start in the making. Zed Williams took it upon himself to fight the ball straight through the defense, finishing on the inside for not one, but two consecutive goals. Single-handedly taking the lead, Williams put the Rattlers up by one, but there was still over 10 minutes to go. In all that time, it would only be players in black and green finding twine. Walters went again with his fourth to make it a tie, before Dave Lawson could should up in the final minute to drive the nail into the coffin and steal the win.
Despite taking the loss, it has to feel good to have John Ranagan back in the lineup for Rochester. Also having a reliable face-off man like Drew Simoneau that can go .586 against the likes of Greg Gurenlian is something serious. Zed Williams has been nothing short of fantastic from the start and will be an offensive leader in the long run. Until then, they need to keep up the fight, but tighten down on what they’re letting the other offense get away with. The Lizards weren’t having an exceptionally accurate night, but Galloway was seeing a lot of rubber flung at the goal. They still look to be in great shape for heading to Denver this weekend. Rochester will get the chance to get a new grip when they host last-place Atlanta on Saturday.
Hounds 15, Bayhawks 14
Another one! These one goal games are what lacrosse fans should be dreaming about. This time, it came as a big win for the travellers. Two weeks ago, Charlotte put up 18 goals on the Blaze and still found a way to lose. They responded with an 18-12 beatdown on Atlanta the following week, that time 18 was the magic number. Understanding that nothing is a given, the Hounds turned on the jets early in Chesapeake to try and take a substantial lead before their opponents could get started. In the first minute, the Bayhawks caught time in the box for a technical foul and Joey Sankey wasted no time capitalizing on it. Barely 10 seconds later, long pole Mike Ehrhardt fired a shot past Brian Phipps to keep the bench energized. Riding the momentum, John Haus rang up one of his own and suddenly Charlotte was up 3-0 in the first 3 minutes. Enough was enough for rookie Josh Byrne, feeding Matt Abbott for a goal before ringing one up of his own for the Bayhawks. Somewhere in the middle, Kevin Crowley racked up his first and second goals, matched by another strike from Sankey and Charlotte was leading by 4 to end the first.
Swinging on the starting bell, face-off man Brendan Fowler won the draw and connected with Ryan Brown for a quick goal to keep the wheels turning. Trying to stop to flood, Matt Danowski wedged in a goal for Chesapeake, only to be followed by a win and in from Fowler. Young John Crawley threw his name into the ring to push the difference to 6, making the Hounds look unstoppable. A group of young talent on the other end would show up to test that. Myles Jones would lead the charge hammering in two goal, on either side of a pair of strikes from rookie out of Villanova, Jake Frocarro, his first career goals. National Champion Colin Heacock drove from behind, turned and fired past Charlie Cipriano for his first MLL goal. Despite all of the effort from the youngster, Charlotte didn’t go away. Haus and Brown both cashed in for the Hounds to make sure to keep the healthy lead.
No one could get in the way of Kevin Crowley to start the half, turning the feed into the 12th Charlotte goal. Danowski had an answer for the Hawks, only to be matched by an effort from Mike Chanenchuk. A hat trick finalizer from Jones would get one back for the home side and a highlight stealing team goal from Chesapeake would follow. Ben Williams would win the draw, push the ball down the field, back-hand shovel the ball over to Byrne, who mailed a behind the back redirection over to Heacock for the finish. After that, the Hounds defense would shut the door for the next five minutes, giving Cipriano a break and giving Haus the space to make it a hat trick. Knowing three wasn’t likely enough, Ryan Brown came back around for a hat trick of his own, but it would be the last Charlotte goal in nearly 13 minutes. Leaving it all on the field, Frocarro found the back of the net again, completing his first hat trick. Danowski matched the effort by registering his third and fourth goals. With 3 minutes left, the Bayhawks were within one goal of forcing overtime, but they just couldn’t get the job done.
Rookies are continuing to make a difference for both of these ball clubs. Expect to see Ben Williams bounce back at the face-off x, dropping below .500 for two-straight games after his stellar performance. A hat trick from Frocarro, a pair from Heacock, and a wild card like Josh Byrne are going to carry the Bayhawks a long way once they start getting a better feel for each other. On the other side, leadership is going a long way for Charlotte and clearly momentum means a lot to their success. They have to stick to the plan of coming out hot if they want to climb the ladder against the Launch this weekend. The Hawks can use a battle with to get away from the bottom rungs and even their record to 4-4.
Blaze 16, Launch 19
Another tough break for Atlanta holds them down at the very bottom of the MLL rankings. All puns aside, they came out absolutely on fire in the first half. By halftime they were already at 14 goals, leading the Launch by two. It’s hard to say what happens to teams sometimes and it’s really hard to explain how a team can put up that many goals in the first half and finish with only two in the final two quarters.
Having Randy Staats back in the lineup for Atlanta brought a clear boost to the offense right away. Staats found twine in his first minute of the 2017 MLL season, just returning after winning the NLL Champion’s Cup with the Georgia Swarm. By the end of the first, Staats was three goals and one assist deep, while fellow returner Mark Matthews was right alongside him with a first quarter hat trick of his own. Kevin Rice was the only other shooter to connect for the Blaze in that first 15 minutes, but it was enough to put 7 on the scoreboard to Florida’s 6. The Launch attack was led by the pair of Toronto Rock performers, Connor Buczek and Kieran McArdle, raking in two each. Rookies Sergio Salcido and Tim Edwards both brought a goal to the scorecard, but they couldn’t bring momentum into the second quarter. Powell athlete Chris Bocklet opened the period up with a quick strike, with a laser from defenseman Scott Ratliff off the next face-off. Rookie attackman Tom Moore buried his first of the game, making the game 10-6. A three goal spree from Florida would begin to turn the tables, Buczek going first with a two-point rocket, followed by Chazz Woodson’s only of the night, and the first strike from rookie Dyan Molloy. The contested back-hander from Molloy would tie the game up at 10, waking up the Launch crowd. Not letting a fellow rookie take the cake, Jake Withers won the next face-off and took it straight to the house to push the lead back on his first MLL goal. James Pannell found success on the next possession, making it 12-10. Rice’s 2nd goal for Atlanta would stretch the difference to three goals. Owning the moment, Molloy swung back for the Launch and cut the difference to two. Not done yet, Withers pushed the next draw right back down Main Street and sent the rock into the back of the net to keep the Blaze afire. Before the horn would sound, McArdle took another run for Florida, keeping the game within two at halftime.
That’s when the extinguishers came out to play. The game nearly came to a standstill between the two teams, only featuring a combined three goals over 15 minutes. Hot of a Swarm Championship, rookie Liam Byrnes netted his first MLL goal in his debut, followed by the fourth point on the board from McArdle. Watching the Launch tie things up wouldn’t work for Randy Staats, putting up a fight and working his way to the island and dumping over his man’s shoulder and past Austin Kaut to take the lead back. In the fourth, it was more Florida domination over the Blaze. Rookies Nick Mariano and Ryan Drenner each added a goal to their stellar starts, before Kieran McArdle would take over and shut things down. Already four goals deep, McArdle busted out a fourth quarter hat trick to add to his totals, making it 7 goals and an assist for the weekend. Matt Mackrides was the only Blaze shooter to work anything past Kaut in the final 15 minutes, despite 6 shots on goal. The 5-1 run by the home team would end up blowing the Blaze out of the water. Not only did they pose a fourth quarter comeback, the Launch took a three goal lead halfway through the final frame and did everything they could to maintain it.
It’s hard to say what’s the bigger deal, Florida only allowing two goals in a half after allowing fourteen, or, Atlanta only being able to score twice in thirty minute when Randy Staats, Kevin Rice, Mark Matthews, Chris Bocklet, Jeremy Noble, Matt Mackrides, and James Pannell are all still on the field. Dillon Ward got the call again and this time only turned away 28% of what was on cage. Having Ghitelman back will make a huge difference, but that still doesn’t answer how so few shots found twine on the other end. Both squads should have their work cut out for them, the Launch heading to Charlotte and the Blaze going to Rochester on Saturday night.
Cannons 16, Outlaws 9
I don’t think anyone could have predicted this kind of outcome for a Boston vs Denver game. Maybe that’s what makes professional lacrosse so special. The Outlaws were owning first place and looked unstoppable after following up their only hiccup of the season by kicking the pants off of Boston, 19-13. It could have been the curse of the bye week, but it didn’t look like the Outlaws never showed up. They put up seven goals in the first half, two short of Boston, but somehow there was no wind left in their sails for the final 30 minutes.
Rookie Zach Currier was the first to go for Denver, but Sergio Perkovic would answer the call with his first career goal in his MLL debut. Powell athlete Mike Bocklet took the lead back for the Outlaws, yet once again, it was a rookie making his presence known. Kyle Jackson would even things out with his first MLL goal and just seconds later Kylor Bellestri gave the Cannons a one goal lead. A holding penalty on rookie Matt Landis gave Eric Law the chance to connect on a man-up opportunity and tie the game. Not letting the game get away from them, Davey Emala charged one past Jack Kelly and worked out a 4-3 lead after the first 15 minutes.
From there, it looked like Denver was going to come storming back. Three fairly quick connections from Matt Kavanagh, Drew Snider, and Eric Law gave the homeside a two goal lead after trailing for nearly 10 minutes. Bellestri punched in his second for Boston to keep it close, but Snider was hot on his tail re-extended the lead. Not taking kindly to Snider’s second, Boston retaliated with a roll that would exhaust the Outlaws. Justin Turri struck first, then Will Manny strapped up his backpack and took the ball to the house for three goals in a row, starting and finishing a hat trick in about two minutes. The late effort from Manny would win the frame back for the Cannons, putting them up by two at the break.
It seemed like the Outlaws were still in the game when Eric Law started the second half off with a goal. Great movement from Bocklet and Sieverts to found Law on the back door, burying a goal that looked pretty darn close to last year’s Championship-winner. Goalie Tyler Fiorito made some really nice save in the latter half, 11 to be exact, but the effort of the team to not waste possessions and limit production from all of the Outlaws was commendable. Only one shot, from the stick of Zach Currier, would beat Fiorito for the rest of the game. A combination of goals 2 through 5 for Davey Emala would soak up most of the spotlight. Kyle Jackson would bounce back for one more, while Bellestri got his 2nd and 3rd points of the game.
Whatever was said in that locker room at halftime lit a fire under the Cannons that won them the game. The Outlaws appeared to put the game in cruise control and Boston made them pay for it. Denver still sits in first place, but now they’re forced to share the position with the Machine. They’ll place host to a Lizards roster that looks to be in much better shape, while Boston will welcome the first-place Machine into town on Thursday. They’ll need to remember every last detail on how their plan for Denver paid off and replicate it against the equally powerful Ohio roster.
Thursday, June 22nd
Machine @ Cannons – 7:30 pm Harvard Stadium
Saturday, June 24th
Lizards @ Outlaws – 5 pm, Sports Authority Field
Launch @ Hounds – 7 pm, Legion Stadium
Bayhawks @ Machine – 7 pm, Fortress Obetz
Blaze @ Rattlers – 7:30 pm, Capelli Sports Stadium