If you’ve been watching the MLL this week, there is no shortage of highlight reel goals and assists, but something about the style of play feels. Something is different, and I’m here for it.
This isn’t your usual heavy dose of north/south dodge from the midline and rip on run with either hand offense. There aren’t a lot of guys like: Matt Streibel, Gary Gait, Kyle Dixon, Max Seibald, the Peyser brothers, and on who are striking fear in the defense as soon as they leave the substitution box.
These MLL rosters currently are comprised of a lot of pass-first guys. Players with really slick stick work and the ability to finish. Gone seem to be the big 2-point shooters, gunning on the run, and many alley dodgers, who can beat a pole. That subsequently has made the inside or crease player the most important person on the offense. They have to get open, they have to bury their chances. That’s the style being played and it’s leading to a ton of highlight goals.
Dare I say the “Canadian Influence” is heavy in the MLL right now?
Instead of initiating from the midline with a midfielder, teams are regularly deploying the Big/Little offense from X, a two-man game on the wing, or a 1-v-1 invert from X. These slower types of offense have allowed for a more deliberate pace forcing mismatches and bad switches, becoming a premium on ball movement, precise passing, and inside finishing.
The passing has been beautiful and has allowed the inside finishers like Ryan Lee, Shayne Jackson, Bubba Voigt, Mark Cockerton and Connor O’Hara to flourish. There isn’t a single North/South midfielder even close to the scoring lead and that isn’t normal in pro field lacrosse.
This version of offense in the MLL lets us watch more of a passing and X-dominated game and it’s been full of highlights.
Breakthrough Offensive Rookie Performers in MLL Halfway Point
You know about Lyle and some of the other vets, but what young guns are making their name known in the MLL tournament so far?
1) Daniel Bucaro – 10g 1a
The Outlaws lost a huge piece this year in midfielder Zach Currier. Going into this tournament they needed another dodging threat and, boy, has Bucaro delivered. I haven’t seem someone who can stop him yet, when he has the proper spacing. He’s playing at Mike Vick in Madden speed right now and his shot is lethal.
2) Reilly O’Connor – 4g 1a
The oldest rookie on this list by far.
Former Captain, now coach, at The Hill Academy and Georgetown University star, O’Connor is as smart as they get. Don’t get it twisted, he’s got top end skill as well. What you can’t measure in Reilly is his heart. Scoring the game winning goal last night showed how hungry and clutch of a player he is. Look out for him the rest of this tournament. He’s a serious x-factor for the Cannons sneaking into a top two finish.
3) Tyson Gibson – 5g 1a
No. 1 pick in the NLL and Bobby Mo product, Gibson has been one of the better Barrage players at winning his 1-v-1 match-up consistently all tournament, scoring some really pretty invert goals. Wearing the name of Jack Toomb, a former Robert Morris teammate who passed away on his jersey, Gibson is playing for something much bigger this tournament and it shows.
4.) Andrew Petit – 4g 2a
The Lehigh product jumped onto the scene scoring an absurd goal #sctop10 around the defender’s back. He has been deadly from the left wing with his different release points on his shot. Watching his highlight film posted by the @lehighlacrosse account this isn’t something new for Petit. The Lizards need him to keep getting shots off to get that fourth spot in the playoffs.
Congratulations to Andrew Pettit, who takes home our Goal of the Decade🥇 for this 🔄🎯 masterpiece.
He breaks down the goal 👇🏼 pic.twitter.com/99sd9yoWV9
— Lehigh Lacrosse (@LehighLacrosse) July 14, 2020
5.) Jon Mazza – 4g 2a
The 6’4″ Towson product has brought a good scoring touch to the Barrage attack. He’s been able to score on the run with a twister and hit some set shots. I think he’s gotten better every game of the tournament. For Philly to make the last spot in the playoffs he needs to keep getting adjusted to the pro game and gaining more confidence.
Honorable Mention: Sean O’Brien, New York Lizards