Digesting Major League Lacrosse
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Digesting Major League Lacrosse: Week 11

Before we handle our domestic affairs, (e.g. Digesting Major League Lacrosse) let’s take a moment to acknowledge the proud members of Team Canada for bringing the gold back to their home and native land. Congratulations, you crafty inside finishers, you toe-dragging beauties of the North, on a job well done.

Photo Credit: Casey Kermes

As for the MLL, the quest for the Steinfeld Cup kept rolling along, with three matchups during the world games and the fourth taking place the following day. Hate it or love it, that’s how the MLL gets down: It doesn’t matter if you’ve got players in the NLL, coaching NCAA games, or whatever they’re up to – the league is like a treadmill that won’t shut off, and you can either run with it or get tossed off and embarrassed, with everyone in the vicinity getting all quiet until you walk away and they all start cracking up at your misfortune.

Video Digesting Major League Lacrosse

Is it unfair that the dead-last Bayhawks had to fight for their lives without several key contributors, while the first-place Outlaws didn’t have to play at all? Well, yeah, that does seem crazy. But the league rolls on regardless, everyone involved knows the league rolls on regardless, and fortune favors those who adapt, or prepare accordingly. How well did your squad draft? Did they account for depth issues, or successfully game the waiver wire?

Maybe things will be different in 2018, but for now, what’s done is done, and much like in early spring, teams had to find ways to win with the players they had. Certainly not to say these teams were short on talent; those who suited up put on an absolute show – three of the four games were tied in the fourth quarter, and two went into overtime. In case you missed anything, here’s a closer look at week 11.

Rattlers 10, Bayhawks 7

Chesapeake newcomers such as Mark McNeil and Brandon Benn have found themselves in an interesting position as of late. Tossed into the deep end and expected to swim, it’s partially on their shoulders to help rejuvenate the Bayhawk dynasty’s ever-dwindling chances for a three-peat.

The world games took a heavier toll on Chesapeake than Rochester, but the Bayhawks caught a lucky break, as Jordan Wolf was out of the lineup with a prearranged absence. Ultimately, Rochester’s missing players just meant viewers were treated to a gritty reboot of Rattlers Version 1.0, the squad that won three of their first four games prior to the arrival of their NCAA & NLL cavalry. Names like Dan Hardy and Steven Boyle rejoined the lineup, only this time playing alongside Mark Cockerton and Ty Thompson, who after weeks of waiting his turn, finally got the opportunity to make the active roster.

Cockerton, also known by his full name “56th (insert your expletive of choice) Overall Pick Mark Cockerton,” finished with five goals on the evening, including both of Rochester’s extra-man goals and all four of their first-half tallies, while Joe Walters led the Bayhawks with four points.

John Galloway took advantage of his Team USA alternate status to fly to Annapolis and suit up, and for the second time this season, his Rattlers defense held Chesapeake to only seven goals, the Bayhawks scoring after only 47 seconds, then going over 32 minutes without scoring a second goal. Despite the drought, the teams were somehow tied heading into the fourth quarter, where the Bayhawks were held scoreless once more.

Machine 13, Hounds 12 (OT)

The world games certainly didn’t affect all teams equally: the league-leading Ohio offense was missing three of their top five scorers, while (with the exception of Geoff Snider, who’s got only one game under his belt this season anyway) the Hounds roster remained intact. If you thought Charlotte would easily cash in on that disparity, you forgot one glaring obstacle standing in their way: the game was in Ohio, and the Hounds haven’t won a single road game all year.

Ohio’s extra roster space likely contributed to some different faces in the lineup, from the return of defenseman Chad Weidmaier (missing since week eight) to the recently-acquired Sam Bradman joining the squad, but the biggest story of the afternoon was the four-goal MLL debut of former Syracuse attackman Derek Maltz. A consummate finisher, Maltz netted four goals and literally cradled the ball one time. Quality crease play is chess, not checkers, and if you followed the Orange in 2012 and 2013 (Randy Staats joined the team last year and essentially relegated Maltz to midfield and man-up duties), you know Maltz can be like one of those guys at the park, playing on three boards at once and taking everybody’s money.

While Ohio’s attack flourished, Charlotte’s Adam Ghitelman, the guy trying to stop them, ran into some difficulty of his own. While it’s impossible to overstate how beneficial a mobile goalie can be on either side of the ball, those roaming tendencies will jump up and bite you from time to time, and for Ghitelman, this was one of those days. After chasing Tommy Schreiber from X early in the fourth quarter, Ghitelman got back in cage just in time to see Logan Schuss’ third goal of the night go by, giving the Machine an 11-10 lead. After Ryan Young tied the game up with just under four minutes left, a failure to clear (while Ghitleman had the ball about thirty yards from the goal) placed the ball in the hands of longpole Brian Farrell, (he of the four-game scoring streak and Tusken Raider post-goal celebration), whose second goal of the game gave the Machine the lead once more.

Young answered yet again, squirming through triple-coverage to tie the game with one second left, and the Hounds rode the momentum to overtime, where Tim Fallon won the opening draw and put a quality shot on goal, but Brian Phipps made the save. Tom Schreiber threw a face dodge that caused Pat Laconi to overcommit, and put the game away.

Lizards 15, Cannons 14 (OT)

The Boston Cannons continue to find ways to rip their fans’ hearts from their chests, this time relying upon defensive miscues and ill-timed penalties to lose their fifth one-goal game (and second in overtime) of the season, this time to the surging Lizards, who have now won four games in a row and placed themselves in prime position to secure a playoff spot.

As clearly evidenced by the score, both teams found ways to overcome the loss of marquee players such as Paul Rabil, Kevin Buchanan and Rob Pannell. For the Cannons, Ryan Boyle contributed a season-high four points while Owen Blye and Brent Adams both recorded their first career hat tricks. Meanwhile for the Lizards, Tommy Palasek tallied his second five-point performance in as many games, and JoJo Marasco had a clutch hat trick of his own, all three of his goals coming in the fourth quarter or later.

Lizards fans should pick up Richie Meade’s tab when they see him having dinner, because Brian Karalunas and Joe Fletcher, both left off the final Team USA roster, were relied upon heavily in this game. With Kyle Hartzell in Denver, Karalunas was liberated from the close defense and free to play LSM once again (takeaway LSMs are peacocks – you’ve got to let them fly), picking passes from the air and roaming between the arcs to his heart’s content.

The Cannons defense was essentially only missing Brodie Merrill (and that’s “only” as in “strictly,” not as in “merely,” don’t be ridiculous), which made their mental lapses all the more puzzling. The Cannons appeared baffled by New York’s transition offense, and were eaten alive by unsettled situations throughout the entire game.
Now, back to that “ill-timed penalties” thing I mentioned earlier: with three goals and an assist, Will Manny had another solid game on the offensive end, which is precisely where he should stay, being an attackman and all. Unfortunately, he went offsides in overtime, and Marasco (another one of those late Team USA cuts) cashed in, throwing a face dodge at Scott Ratliff (that overtime face dodge strikes again), then sprinting to the goal for the game-winner.

Outlaws 13, Launch 10

The fourth game of the week took place right down the road from where the world games had just ended, with many players (Lee Zink, Jesse Schwartzman, Cam Holding for the Outlaws, Chris Mattes and Jordan Hall for the Launch) somehow managing to drag themselves out of bed and compete the following afternoon.

The Launch got off to a quick start thanks to Kieran McArdle, who needed only four minutes to record a hat trick. After seven shots on goal and seven points on the scoreboard, Schwartzman’s backup Charlie Cipriano was already getting warmed up on the sideline, just three minutes into the second quarter.

Thanks in part to Crowley trade members David Earl (one goal) and Steven Brooks (four points, including Florida’s second two-pointer of the year), the Launch found themselves sitting pretty with a 10-6 lead in the third quarter. Unfortunately, due to the rules of sports and simple fractions, the game consisted of four quarters, leaving the Outlaws plenty of time to right the ship. After Cipriano lowered his shoulder and put a driving Kevin Cunningham on the ground, the ball went the other way for the first of six unanswered Denver goals (including a game-winning two-pointer from Jeremy Sieverts), five of which were scored or assisted by John Grant, Jr.

The Outlaws’ win kept them tied with Rochester atop the standings, while Florida’s downward spiral continues with their fifth consecutive loss.

A Quick Look Forward – Week 12

With the exception of those battered and bruised while representing their countries, rosters should be completely intact when play resumes this weekend, and shockingly, no team has been officially eliminated from playoff contention. If any of the bottom dwellers have an epic comeback left in the tank, it’s going to have to start immediately.

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