Be honest. How many MLL games did you catch this weekend? One? None?
They sure didn’t make it easy! Maybe it couldn’t have been helped, but every game in the league started up at the same time – Saturday at 7:00 EST, which was just in time to compete with both the NLL championship and the Albany-Denver NCAA throwdown that had been hyped up all week.
Photo Credit: 24 Seven Lax
Just in case your attention was elsewhere, here’s what you missed:
Rochester Rattlers 13 Charlotte Hounds 10
Last week I mentioned in the preview that Rochester coach Tim Soudan had considered keeping his attack unit on the field and no longer subbing them on the fly. He should probably go with that. Staying on the field and working from x, Ned Crotty tied a career-high with seven points, earning the Rattlers their first win of the season.
It all makes perfect sense, really: if you take Crotty away from x, you negate something he’s incredibly good at – the under appreciated art of restart manipulation. Someone misses a shot, Ned sprints as fast as humanly possible to the endline, picks up a ball, whistle blows and he comes sprinting back into the play. Not walking, not stutter-stepping or roll dodging, flat-out sprinting. And it gets results: one restart, he stuffed a diving wraparound goal.
A minute later, same situation, he fed a backdoor cutting Jordan Macintosh; Macintosh’s defender caught out of position after chasing the shot. Crotty got to the endline too quickly for him, the whistle blew, and you’ve got yourself an odd man rush, just like that.
For the Hounds, Ryan Young finished with seven goals at the attack position, but aside from Tim Fallon off the draw, a Brian Carroll transition goal in the third was the only point scored by a Charlotte midfielder. Carroll must have still been feeling good about his three-goal performance in week 2, because he took seven shots on Saturday, his highest total since July 2011.
Even in a loss, scoring seven goals deserves some attention, so here goes: not only did Matt Danowski assist Young’s first goal of the night (the other six were unassisted) and Young assist Danowski’s, but multiple Young goals were the direct result of Danowski setting picks behind the goal. So if you were wondering how an offensive centerpiece like Matt Danowski would fare being re-introduced to a team that just won without him, rest assured that part went just fine.
Denver Outlaws 14, Boston Cannons 10
“It’s about winning your matchups, slide too early in this league and you get hurt” – Boston head coach Steve Duffy
While that’s certainly true, sliding very late (or not at all) can be equally harmful, as was the case on Saturday night. Drew Snider, Terry Kimener and the rest of the Denver midfield enjoyed unprecedented access to the alleys, the creases and all areas in between. It’s like they had VIP passes, they came and went as they pleased, and nobody gave them any trouble at all.
With their midfielders running by their defenders and no help on the way, Denver quickly jumped out to a big lead, scoring two goals within the first minute and five in the first quarter. Things started to get ugly, but a window of opportunity opened up for the Cannons when Jesse Schwartzman took a Paul Rabil shot right off the leg and promptly gave up three straight goals, making the score 9-6 Denver at the half.
The Outlaws couldn’t seem to find the cage early in the second half, and when they did, Mike Gabel (in place of the injured Jordan Burke) was there to make some big saves. After Denver turned the ball over and Matt Poskay forced a 9-9 tie, it looked like the Cannons had seized momentum, but they just couldn’t quite cash in.
Denver’s Zack Greer, apparently no longer interested in playing lacrosse the right way for the right reasons, scored four goals in his return to the MLL, including the go-ahead and game-winning goals. After Boston wasted an extra-man opportunity and Drew Snider scored short-handed (his fifth goal of the game), the game was good as done, with Boston falling to 0-3 for the first time in franchise history.
Note: Boston’s Ryan Boyle did break the all-time points record. So for Boston, at the very least, there was that:
Ohio Machine 5 Chesapeake Bayhawks 14
Unlike the Boston defense, Ohio’s defense slides really, really quickly. You so much as get hip-to-hip with your defender, someone’s on the way to pick you up. Now, here’s the thing about the Chesapeake offense: they love it when a team slides quickly. Draw and dish to the open man, it’s just that easy. Needless to say, this didn’t quite work out for the Machine, and Bayhawks made Scott Rodgers’ Ohio debut a fairly unpleasant one.
With the outcome of the game hardly ever in doubt (Chesapeake led 6-1 at the end of the first quarter, at one point scoring seven goals in a row), the bigger story was the Bayhawks’ ability to score out of different offensive formations. Run Matt Abbott on an invert set, he dishes to Matt Mackrides for a goal. Put Mackrides on the invert, he calls his own number for another goal. And of course, if all else fails, just give it to Ben Rubeor, who led all scorers with four goals.
Steele Stanwick finished with three assists, but the Chesapeake defense (Evans and Polanco, respectively) held Stanwick and Woodson without goals for their second straight matchup. A storm halted the game at 10-1 with 3:20 left in the second quarter, and after a break, the teams resumed play, finishing the third quarter before additional severe weather forced the crew to call the game early. If it’s any consolation, Ohio fans, the Machine tied the Bayhawks 4-4 during that period between storms.
New York Lizards 11, Hamilton Nationals 12
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you your current leader for craziest game of the year. Go to ESPN3 and watch this game right now. No, it doesn’t matter that you already know the final score. If you didn’t see it, go watch it. Don’t have that kind of time? I’ll break it down for you.
About halfway through the first quarter, Matt Gibson sends a feed to Stephen Berger, who’s wide open on the crease. 215-lb Sol Bliss slides to cover Berger, misses him, jumps in the air and lands on top of Brett Queener, who definitely wasn’t expecting any of that to happen. Queener leaves the game and never comes back, Evan Kirk comes in to replace him.
Fast forward to the second half: the Nationals give up five goals in a row and head into the fourth quarter down 10-8. Evan Kirk stops a Mark Matthews shot and sends it the other way in a hurry. Martin Cahill finds John Austin in transition, who pulls up and sinks a two-pointer. Seriously, a two-pointer. On purpose. That’s right, Hamilton shoots two-pointers this year. It’s crazy, five two-pointers all last season (and one was a deflection – also, the seventh-place team had 10), now they’re pulling up like Ray Allen. It’s fantastic.
Anyway, Hamilton has all the momentum after that goal, but they just can’t figure out Drew Adams. While he’s standing on his head (four of his 14 saves came while keeping Hamilton stuck at 10 goals), a Stephen Peyser goal makes it 11-10, and Hamilton throws the ball away with about 1:30 remaining. A New York shot clock violation gives Hamilton the ball back with half a minute to go, and suddenly a fourth d-middie runs on the field. Using seven defensive players (not including the goalie) is a great move if nobody catches you, but unfortunately for the Lizards, the refs were on top of it. Too many men, 13 seconds left. Absolutely brutal.
Hamilton goes man up, and a few quick passes later, Kevin Crowley hits the first two-pointer of his career with four seconds left. And not even a regular two-pointer, a fadeaway two-pointer. And we’re not talking a smooth, Michael Jordan fadeaway, we’re talking “step back and swing like there’s a bee flying towards my head” fadeaway. Unreal. Game, Nationals. How often do you see someone hit a game-winning two-pointer with seconds left on the clock? Once every never? Seriously, go watch the game.
Note: Aside from crippling his goalie, Sol Bliss had a quality evening, preventing New York’s Tommy Palasek from scoring a single point. Palasek scored six goals on six shots in the first Lizards-Nationals meeting of 2012 and hasn’t registered a point in the two games since.
I’ll be back later in the week for more MLL coverage.
Send them over to me on Twitter – @ChrisRosie22