After last week’s grand opening of the new MLL season, MLL 2019 Week 2 was a little more relaxed with just two games over the weekend. Better yet, they were spread out and on different days meaning no competition for viewers. Saturday had the Outlaws once again going down to Atlanta for a quick turnaround rematch while the Cannons traveled to Dallas for their first meeting with the Rattlers.
2019 MLL Week 2
Denver 18 – Atlanta 16
Boston 16 – Dallas 10
There were two storylines going into the Saturday game with Denver and Atlanta to follow. One was whether or not the defending champs were going to win the revenge game after dropping last week’s match. The other was if John Grant Jr. was going to reclaim the league’s scoring title. As it would turn out, the answer to both of those questions was a resounding yes. The headline was of course Junior getting his points. What has been interesting about this storyline is that both pro leagues, the PLL and MLL, largely avoid talking about each other unless prompted. PLL coverage rarely discusses players’ prior time in the MLL just like the MLL will rarely talk about departed PLL players. That is why it’s been pretty notable that the Outlaws’ press releases have been front and center with showing Junior’s career stats side by side former-leader Paul Rabil, who helped found the Premier Lacrosse League. Going into this game, Rabil had a one point lead 596 to 595. Following this game, Junior’s one goal and two assist brought him up to 598 and the league career scoring record.
The question now is how much of him returning to the field was just centered around this record. He can’t play like he could a decade ago, but he’s still a matchup nightmare. Few defenders can deal with him. He backs them down and his momentum mandates a slide since you can either stop his momentum or occupy his hands, but not both. So now, you have the race to 600 to see if he hits that milestone. Then, what’s next? The obvious question is whether or not he plays out the entire season, or just slowly resumes his full time coordinator role. He’ll be on the Outlaws’ sideline regardless. The question is how much time will be spent in the polo versus the jersey?
But how about the rest of the team? His fellow attackman Ryan Lee was out this week, so they relied on fellow RIT alum Kyle Killen, who were also teammates with the Colorado Mammoth this winter. Lee lit up the Blaze last week with five goals, despite the loss. This week, Zach Currier stepped up with a hat trick and Killen recorded the same. The big area that was a difference maker was the two-point arc. Last week, the Outlaws had zero points from deep, this week there were two. It’s not the four-goal swing, but it is considerable. This was a by-product of the Denver middies being much more involved. This team seems to be at their best when they are a little more evenly distributed.
In the second game of the 2019 MLL Week 2 weekend, the Boston Cannons were looking to build on their opening night win over New York as they went down to Dallas. And build they did. The Boston first quarter was one of the most impressive offensive showings I’ve seen this year. The Cannons jumped out to a 7-0 first quarter lead which was due in small part to their attack. That group consisting of Will Sands, Mark Cockerton and Connor O’Hara are playing very unselfish lacrosse and the ball was moving very quickly. Sands was the main orchestrator, tallying six assists on the day.
Outside of the Cannons offense, Kevin Reisman was the only FOGO dressed this week. Jake Withers had the start against New York, but after going 0/3 at the X, he was sat in favor of Reisman. This is definitely a storyline to keep an eye on going forward. But more credit has to go towards the Cannons defense anchored by Nick Marrocco between the pipes. Them making stop after stop is what fueled the offense. This was my biggest question mark about this team in the preseason and they have so far stepped up to the challenge.