Week 7 of the 2012 Major League Lacrosse Season definitely cleared up some question marks. There is a definite contender portion of the league and a definite pretender portion of the league right now, and we’re starting to see just where everyone belongs.
Photo Credit: 24 Seven Lax
Boston Cannons 16 – Charlotte Hounds 8
Boston proved they aren’t on a skid by doubling up the Charlotte Hound 16-8. Now, when you look back at their Rochester and Long Island losses, one can say they just lost two good games to two good teams during two straight weeks. It seems amazing how one win can seemingly right the ship, but it’s also true. A win is a win in the MLL, and nothing comes easy.
Charlotte did well to stay in the game early, and keep the Cannons offense at bay, but the Hounds couldn’t dominate at face offs, and they struggled to score consistently. Mitch Belisle did a bang up job on Matt Danowski and although Dano, Berger, Miller, Bitter and Boltus all registered at least one point, none had more more than 3. The production for Charlotte was balanced, but there just wasn’t enough of it.
Boston got the ball back in Ryan Boyle’s hands and he performed extremely well. Matt Poskay notched five nice goals by shooting smart and the Cannons midfielders didn’t shoot poorly at all. Many mids (Rabil, Stone, Smith, McGolone, Heim) had goals, and their shooting percentages were high. I picked Boston to win by 6+, and they did just that.
Denver Outlaws 16 – Rochester 12
I went with Rochester in this game, and said they’d have to do two things: 1) win face offs and 2) contain the Denver attack unit. The Rattlers nailed point number 1 as they went 17-31 on face offs, and did a decent job of limiting transition when they did lose. Rochester also did a great job on Mart Matthews, and the big Canadian was held scoreless in the game.
However, the Rattlers could not slow down Brendan Mundorf, and the lefty attackman started strong and kept pouring it on. Mundy scored the game’s first goal and then assisted on the second. He finished the day with 6 goals and 2 assists, and registered at least one point in all four quarters.
Paired with Jesse Schwartzman in goal, who had 16 saves, Mundorf was the difference maker for Denver. He played with confidence, led the Outlaws when they needed leading, and he took advantage of any opportunity he was given or created.
Ches. Bayhawks 16 – Hamilton Nationals 15
I knew the games would be tighter in Week 7 than they were in Week 6, and the Bayhawks – Nationals game was a perfect example of this! Hamilton typically starts slower than this, so I LOVE seeing the Nats put up big numbers in the first half of the year. It means they can’t sneak up on anyone in the playoffs as easily!
Chesapeake, on the other hand, looks like they have come back down to Earth a bit. They are now mortal, and beatable. A quick attack willing to go hard to the cage and endure a couple slashes can see success against the Bayhawks’ D. When you look at Long Island’s weaknesses over the past year or two, it was often their defensive team speed, and now that Polanco and Spallina are playing for Chesapeake, I think the issue has migrated South.
The Bayhawks D is physical, and talented, and they play cohesively, but they do have a weakness when it comes to foot speed, and a fast, tough attack can make them pay for it. Look for teams to attack the two poles I mentioned above more and more. I know, only two years ago that would have been an insane thing to write.
Long Island Lizards 16 – Ohio Machine 12
Ohio really wanted to prove something on Saturday night against Long Island. Only a few weeks back, the Lizards had run the Machine off the field at Hofstra, and NONE of the Ohio players were cool with that. So I definitely expected this game to be closer, but I also called Long Island with the win.
The difference in talent between these two teams is not that wide. On a good day, Ohio can play with anyone. But the difference in team chemistry, and coaching, is more than apparent. And that all makes a ton of sense. Long Island has been rebuilt, they have youth, and legs, and they play within a scheme. Everyone knows their role, and more importantly, they all embrace it.
Ohio can get there, but they aren’t there yet. It’s clear that team is still waiting for a true leader emerge. The question becomes, of the many qualified guys on the team, who will lead? And who will follow?
Who’s On Top?
The League Standings are pretty clear as to who’s on top right now, but when you look at the best teams going forward, I’m not so sure things will stay the same!
Chesapeake Bayhawks 6-1
Boston Cannons 5-2
Denver Outlaws 5-2
Long Island Lizards 4-2
Rochester Rattlers 2-4
Hamilton Nationals 2-4
Ohio Machine 1-5
Charlotte Hounds 1-6
Right now, the strongest team in the league might be Long Island. After a rocky start, the Lizards have been tearing it up, getting production from their midfield and attack, winning a lot of face offs and being athletic and team-oriented on defense. To me at least, they are the most dangerous team in the league.
Denver is starting to get healthy, and could make a good run this year, but I fear face off problems will be their downfall when it counts most. When the other teams are getting 1.5 to 2 times as many possessions, it’s always going to be an uphill battle.
Boston and Hamilton both look good, and outside of Long Island, they are my top teams right now. I really respect Chesapeake’s offense, and their tough D, but I do believe they are beatable with good game planning and a couple of tough attack men. Rochester is right on the cusp for me. They’re above Ohio and Charlotte in my mind, but not quite there in the consistency department either. Their role this year could come down to being a spoiler, but I’m not ready to sell them off em masse quite yet.