This week we are trying something new. Instead of breaking down each and every game, we’re going to be looking at some of the breaking news, patterns, or other notable story lines that help make Major League Lacrosse exciting. Drop your thoughts into the comment section down below and let us know what you enjoyed and what more you’d like to see.
We’re in the homestretch of the season, with playoffs starting to peek at us from beyond the horizon. While Ohio and Denver are running the show, they still haven’t separated themselves enough from the pack to start counting their chips early.
We’re rolling into the last weekend before the all-star break, featuring just a Thursday night shootout, two Saturday night showdowns, and a mid-week follow-up. Denver will host their annual 4th of July extravaganza next Tuesday, when they welcome the Blaze. There’s still no action from Boston this weekend and the Hounds will get some rest too. Action starts tonight with Ohio at New York, so it’s time to look at how things are shaking out.
118 goals were scored this weekend between eight teams in the MLL. 35 of those tallies were registered by 14 different athletes that finished out the NLL season. Total, there were current roster 16 NLLers on the field, the three not finding twine were wielding long poles or goalie gear.
Another 24 of those scores came from the sticks of a variety of rookies. 11 of 35 first-years put the ball into the back of the net, 17 total with at least a point. Keep in mind, the 2017 rookie class also features a deep roster of defensemen, a goalie, and a four starting face-off athletes.
The face-off guys might be making the largest impacts. Rookies Ben Williams (CHE) and Kevin Reisman (OHIO) went head to head and pulled off an equal 15 wins against the other. Will Gural (FLA) pulled off 18 of 32 over all-star Brendan Fowler. Jake Withers (ATL) was the only FOGO to go under .500 this week, losing 13 of 31 to Drew Simoneau, the league-leader.
In total, exactly 50% of the weekend’s goals and just shy of half of the entire face-off wins were pulled off by guys that were either in college, or not on the active roster, to start the season. Josh Byrne scored 7 goals in his debut just two weeks back, Shawn Evans has registered a hat trick in every game he’s ever played. Dylan Molloy captured the Offensive Player of the Week honors after his first-ever game. The indoor game has clearly added a spark to the game of Tom Schreiber, recently earning the NLL Rookie of the Year honors and following up with 25 points across 5 games.
This is all without the Cannons’ totals, sitting last week out with a bye. Boston mixes in another 6 rookies that have seen time this season and 5, or so, NLL athletes. The games weren’t watered down while the NLL and NCAA seasons were in full swing, but who could argue that the level of play and excitement have elevated dramatically in recent weeks. Some believe that the MLL season should run parallel to the college seasons, just like most of the major sports. Yet, will early MLL attendance down and growing focus on the NLL, maybe things should bump back until teams can jump into the season with a full rosters of box stars, rookies, and players previously pulled away for coaching duties. If the fans want a say, the best bet would be starting to fill the seats at their local MLL games.
This week dropped some lacrosse news as big as ever. Boston Cannons’ poster child Will Manny and grinder Joe Locascio were unexpectedly swapped with Lizard’s goal scorer Dave Lawson and 2013 No.2 pick Chris LaPierre. Manny has been a favorite of the Boston crowd since being drafted in 2013 and his departure coming as a shock to most.
After 18 goals and 12 assists, Manny had led Boston with 30 points before shipping off to New York. Immediately Manny becomes the leader in points for the Lizards, while Locascio takes over the 6th spot. Lawson will take over the 5th rung on the Cannons scoring list, while LaPierre will hover at the bottom, still without a point across 4 games in 2017.
Even Manny showed his surprise, posting on social media to thank fans for their support, acting just as caught off guard as many of his supporters were. At 3-6, Boston is sitting alone at the bottom of the rankings. They’re down, but not out, only a half-game back from 3 teams and a point away from making it into the top half of the pack. Usually teams would go after a star, or two, in this case, but they sold off their big name and brought in a pair of midfielders.
New York, only a half-game ahead of Boston, picks up a shifty attackman and a high-caliber middie. Lizards fans should rejoice, nabbing two more big names to add to the pack. It looks like the goal was to try and fill roles that will put their thick depth chart of all-stars in better positions to put up the points they have potential for.
Machine 16, Cannons 15 OT
Saturday, June 24th
Lizards 14, Outlaws 17
Launch 14, Hounds 18
Bayhawks 13, Machine 15
Blaze 13, Rattlers 14
Thursday, June 29th
Machine @ Lizards – 7 pm Shuart Stadium
Saturday, June 24th
Rattlers @ Bayhawks – 7 pm, Navy-Marine Memorial Stadium
Launch @ Blaze – 7 pm, Fifth Third Bank Stadium
Tuesday, July 4th
Blaze @ Outlaws – 10 pm, Sports Authority Field