As I wrote previously during this MLL tournament, the ball movement and passing was at a premium, making your inside finishers and off-ball shooters the most important part of your offense.
I took a look at what makes each guy special and different from the rest. One thing that really jumps out to me as a coach and to help younger players in the future as that all these guys put over 50 percent on their shots on target. As the old hockey saying goes “put pucks on nets, boys!” Pucks on net always have a chance to go.
For me, Ryan Lee gets the nod as the top finisher of the tournament as he’s able to get his shot off in a variety of different ways… and I coached him at The Hill Academy, so there could be some bias.
Ranking Inside Finishers + Closer Look at How They Operate
1) Ryan Lee
18 goals | 30% shooting | 61% on target | 59 total shots
Armed with a cannon with a hair pin trigger, Lee is everywhere. Behind the goal. Right wing. On the 2-point line catching flips and getting his shot on the run. Everywhere.
What really makes Lee different from the rest of these inside finishers is he regularly goes airborne to make a highlight real goal. I tweeted earlier in the tournament that Lee is the best pick-and-slip player, fake the pick and cut to space, in the tournament and maybe in both leagues.
Lee probably has the most range out of all of these guys, he can get to the middle and get his shot off on the run. The biggest thing Lee does that these other finishers don’t do nearly as much, it at all, is go through X to use the goal/crease as an additional defender. Once at X, Lee is a wizard at using the extra cushion provided to cut around the goal with or without the ball to get a sliver of daylight and then he makes you pay. Lee has a lower shot percentage than the rest of the snipers, but I attribute that to the fact that Lee shoots further out, and more. Shooters shoot.
2) Bubba Voigt
16 goals | 53% shooting | 73% on target | 22 total shots
The Penn Yan, NY, native grew up playing box lacrosse in the fabled “chicken coop” with chicken wire about the boards instead of plexiglass.
Bubba does a lot of his work around the 4-8 yard left wing-middle area, but will cut hard to the front of the crease any chance he gets. He can shoot, BTB, around the world, underhand and one-hand. His mid-range catch and shoot release is as quick as a flash and usually ends up in the net. Like most great shooters Bubba does an excellent job of “putting pucks on net” and giving every shot a chance to go in.
As a cutter, Bubba has an innate feel for when to cut and how to use his stick at different angles without the ball to present a target for the feeder.
What really sets Bubba apart from others inside scorers in this tournament is his ability to snag ground balls or clear attempts with one hand. He reminds me of a frog snagging prey. You put anything in his area and his sticky stick will snag it and make an improbable goal.
3) Andrew Kew
13 goals | 59% shooting | 68% on target | 22 total shots
Kew does his damage from the slot area on the left wing with a blistering 59% shooting percentage. Kew has a wicked release and amazing accuracy. He’s been able to find rebounds and gets his nose dirty on the garbage goals.
Kew’s biggest asset is his ability to cash in on the majority of his chances. Dude has ice water in his veins.
11 goals | 57% shooting | 75% on target | 28 total shots
Cockerton hangs ever so slightly above GLE in transition and buries the ball so beautifully to the far-opposite low corner. I think his biggest asset is how quick he gets the ball out of his stick when shooting, there is no second guessing. He will drift inside at times to get open and isn’t afraid to take some contact to get closer to the goal.
5) Connor O’Hara
14 goals | 38% shooting | 54% on target |37 total shots
Our second American to make the Top Inside Finishers list, the son of his own legendary coach, B.J. O’Hara, Connor put on a show this tournament. The righty who played at Bucknell University was the key to making the Lizards offense work and displayed a great ability to find openings inside and cut to the ball.
He displays his stick to the passers beautifully and moves his feet to avoid trouble and has a super quick release on his shots. Connor doesn’t stay in one spot on the field, which I think was his best asset this week.