With only three weeks to go and the playoff picture still largely up in the air, it’s only appropriate that this was a weekend of nail-biters, and every game was undecided until the final few minutes. When the biggest blowout of the weekend is a three-goal victory, you know teams are ready to make their making final pushes of the season. In case you missed anything, here’s what went down in week 11.
Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan Photography
Boston Cannons 12 , Chesapeake Bayhawks 13 OT
Considering this game got its own preview post, then Casey Powell’s return got a post, and the game itself got a post, you guys (especially those who are Cannons fans) are probably all set with the Boston-Chesapeake talk. As a result, I won’t discuss it here.
Denver Outlaws 12, Rochester Rattlers 9
The Rochester Rattlers held the Denver Outlaws to their lowest point total in over a year, but it just didn’t matter: the Outlaws found enough ways to produce, the Rattlers were held to single-digits for the second consecutive game, and Denver’s legendary streak lives on for yet another week.
With his teammates setting picks on Lee Zink at every opportunity, Ned Crotty (1g, 2a) scored all three of his points in the second quarter (his goal was his first against the Outlaws since July 23, 2011) to keep the Rattlers at a perfectly reasonable (considering the opponent) 7-5 deficit heading into the half.
It only took three minutes for the Outlaws to turn that 7-5 lead to a 10-5 one, but the Rattlers responded with a four-goal rally that had an especially vocal Rochester crowd sensing the upset. When Denver’s Chris O’Dougherty was flagged for an illegal body check, it looked like the comeback was officially locked in. Unfortunately for the Rattlers, their extra-man offense hasn’t been working that well as of late (you might remember their 0-6 performance in week ten against Hamilton), and not only did they fail to convert, they failed to put a single shot on cage: shot clock violation, loss of possession, loss of momentum – Rochester never scored again.
New York Lizards 11, Charlotte Hounds 13
The Charlotte Hounds played three of their most dominant quarters of the season, yet just barely held on for a win.
For the first three quarters, the Hounds were playing the exact game they strive for, consistently forcing turnovers that turned into transition goals. The Lizard’s midfield struggled to keep pace, and their defense was often late to slide or didn’t slide at all. Were it not for Greg Gurenlian controlling the faceoffs (he finished the day winning 17 of 22 draws, scooping 10 ground balls in the process), the game could have gotten even more out of hand than the 11-3 lead the Hounds enjoyed at halftime.
In the second half, and much like their second quarter against Denver earlier this season, unnecessary penalties completely took the wind out of Charlotte’s sails. The Hounds are lucky that the Lizards have the worst extra-man offense in the league (18%), because they racked up seven minutes worth of penalties in the second half, including unsportsmanlike conduct calls on three separate occasions.
With penalties and lopsided faceoff totals on their side, New York took advantage of an exhausted Charlotte defense and scored eight of the game’s last nine goals, including two-pointers from Steve Waldeck and Max Seibald (Seibald’s goal coming after another Charlotte penalty),
Ultimately the Lizards both lived and died by the penalty, with Drew Adams picking up an unsportsmanlike conduct call of his own with just two minutes left in the game, an inopportune time for backup goalie John Geagan to have to make just his second MLL appearance. Geagan made a big stop when the penalty ran out, but then sent his clearing attempt out of bounds with a minute left, and the Hounds held on for the win.
Ohio Machine 12, Hamilton Nationals 13
Unbelievable: it happened again. After losing 13-12 to the Bayhawks in week 10, the Ohio Machine suffered an identical heartbreaking fate in week 11, sentencing the team to their second year of double-digit losses.
Joe Walters (3g, 3a) and Cody Jamieson (2g, a career-high 4a) led the way with six points apiece and Dillon Ward (starting in place of Brett Queener for the second time this season), tallied 17 saves, including Marcus Holman’s potentially game-winning two-point attempt late in the game.
It’s impossible to say how much is due to coaching and how much is due to experience, but this is clearly a different Ohio Machine team from the one that lost 16-9 to Hamilton earlier this season. Chazz Woodson played his best lacrosse since returning from his hamstring injury, fighting through constant long-pole attention to set up his teammates with scoring opportunities (had Dillon Ward not been up to task, Woodson would have had at least three assists; granted there’s no such thing as an “almost-assist,” but an offense needs facilitators, so you know what I’m saying).
Equally adept at both dodging and finishing, Greg Downing scored his first three goals of the season (on only four shots), and oh, by the way – have you noticed Logan Schuss has 20 goals in just 8 games? Pretty decent numbers right there. Its been said for weeks now, but there’s plenty cause for optimism in this lineup.
The Big Picture
So Hamilton gets that coveted eighth win, but despite last year’s final standings and some enthusiastic player tweets, they’re still not quite a lock for championship weekend. Just like after week ten, there’s only one team that’s officially in and one that’s officially out. The big picture’s still blurry, but check back later: we’re going to try to clear this confusing playoff picture up.