The LXM PRO was regarded as a bit of a sideshow early on by many, and a major contributing factor there was the fact that their weren’t two real teams to cheer for. The cast of players, outside of a few key guys, rotated constantly and this hurt the venture in terms of continuity from event to event, and the ability to build a dedicated following.
However, the last bunch of events have seen the LXM crystalize into a two-team traveling mini-league, and people who were doubters early on are finding it easier and easier to get on board. Each team has a distinct style of play, and go-to guys, and it seems like the team names and uniforms are set, at least for now. From 30,000 feet, this has really been a great year for this up and coming brand of professional lacrosse, and we finally feel like we can begin to predict outcomes with some consistency.
The LXM website makes note that we are now at Game Six of the STX-Sole version of the Tour. STX leads the series 3-2, but Sole was up 2-1 before Salt Lake City and Phoenix. Some may argue that record-keeping is silly in a two-team league, but hey, you have to start somewhere, and if my teams were splitting games pretty regularly, I’d make a note of it too.
When it comes to making predictions for an LXM game, you have to take a lot of things into consideration. Does either team have a couple of guys who have been playing a lot lately? Being dialed in helps. Does someone on either team have something to prove? Is it a “home game” for any of the players? What is the weather like? What is the playing surface? All of these little things matter greatly, because the talent on the field is pretty darn high.
Let’s take a look at who’s been playing a lot lately: Almost everyone. Although there haven’t been any marquee tournaments in a little while, almost all of the LXM guys are busy with lacrosse, training and life, and it always involves having a stick in their hands. But since most have not been out playing super competitive lacrosse, this issue is a wash for both teams.
Now let’s look and see if Vegas can be considered a home game for any of the guys on either team… Nope. Sure, there are guys on the team who love Vegas, but none are coming home here. Another wash, and I’m starting to doubt if I’ll be able to make a prediction at all.
Ok, weather. This has to be a difference maker, right? Right. Face off is at 6:15PM, and in the Vegas desert, this means one thing: coldness. The same thing happened in Phoenix so it’s not a “new” thing by any means, but it does provide precedent for how the colder weather impacts both teams. Judging by STX’s epic comeback win in the cold night air last time, you have to give them the edge here.
Then we get to the playing surface… it’s grass, and a brand new facility. This will actually be the first event ever held at the place, and only the second STX-Sole game played on grass. Pretty cool. PHX was turf and recent, and STX won. Coronado was turf and STX won. Seattle was turf and Sole won. OC was turf and Sole won. SLC was grass and STX won. Do you see a trend here? Me neither, but I like Sole just a bit more on the grass for some reason in this one, even if the barometer points to STX slightly. Still, it’s close to a wash, as the sample size is so small.
I can find a way give STX a slight edge so far, but it’s certainly not definitive. Maybe there is one guy on one of the teams with something to prove? I asked Kyle Harrison about this but from his answer, it seems like they all have something to prove:
I think all these players approach the games with a chip on their shoulders and something to prove; I know I do. Every game, there are things as a player you wish you could have done better, and for me and Team STX, we’ve got to get out to a good start. We went down 9-1 last game and had to scrap our way back into it. We got out to a nice lead in Seattle, and let Sole back in the 4th and steal it from us. In Arizona they got out to an 8-goal lead and let us creep back in and steal it from them.
Saturday night in Vegas is going to be another close, tough game, and anyone can win it. Though I’m not on Team Sole, I’ve got to imagine they’re talking about closing out a game. They got out to such a big lead last game, then took their foot of the gas and allowed us back in. That’s what I love about these two teams: it always comes down to the 4th quarter no matter what, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I love the personal insight, but it doesn’t get me any close to a prediction. No one point makes this decision and predicition easy, so I’m going to have look at this more wholistically (that’s not a real word).
STX does well in the cold, and they’ve won the only game on grass ever played between the two teams. STX won the last game, and Sole will be without the services of Mike Powell for the second straight event. Without MP’s ability to create goals with a quickness in the cold (it’s a Cuse thing), and increasing frigidity as the game wears on, Sole might race out to another lead, but a lack of scoring down the line could really hurt them.
Final Predicition: Back and forth action for a while resulting in a “game of runs”, where STX puts on the final, big run, and seals the win by a 3 goal margin, 15-12.