This weekend in the MLL played out according to script as New York continued steamrolling its way towards the championship and a 6-0 record going into their bye week. The Lizards defeated the Bayhawks by a score of 15-14 to remain in first place. Despite the closeness of the score, New York had answers for every Chesapeake attempt to take the lead. Despite the loss, the Bayhawks are tied for second place going into a crucial matchup against the Outlaws next weekend. Chesapeake clearly showed they are a top tier team as they played New York to the wire, but still have no answer to their face off dilemma.
The face off dilemma does not bode well for the Bayhawks as they face Anthony Kelly and the Denver Outlaws next week. Chesapeake has struggled against dominate face off men all season. Kelly has been one of the top face off men in the MLL since he put on a jersey and Chesapeake needs to find an answer to the threat he poses. Denver’s offense from last year reunited in Boca as the Outlaws defeated the Launch on the strength of a strong first half offensive performance. Florida threw Chris Mattes and Tom Croonquist at Kelly and managed to wear the big man down in the second half and spark a second half comeback against the champs that fell short. The Bayhawks will need the kitchen sink and then some to defeat the defending champs. With the Lizards enjoying a bye week, second place is up for grabs and every win is important in a league where they are difficult to earn.
The Outlaws are back with last year’s championship line up with the Mammoth NLL season done and they looked strong against the Launch in the first half. Anthony Kelly dominated face offs until the second half and allowed the offense the opportunity to build their lead. Despite their time apart, the Outlaw offense showed the chemistry that made them champions. The defending champs showed signs of vulnerability as Florida mounted a comeback that almost earned the Launch their second win of the season. Denver allowed the Launch to stay in the game and get their offense on track. Mattes and Croonquist did their best David versus Goliath imitation to wear down Anthony Kelly and get the ball back to the offense. If Denver allows teams to hang around like they did with Florida it may keep them from returning to championship weekend.
Moving down the league standings, the Cannons beat the Rattlers in overtime and the Machine found their offense against the Hounds. Boston and Ohio are making moves separate themselves from the bottom of the league standings. Boston remained true to their scrappy, chip on their shoulder attitude and hung in with the Rattlers and earned the one hundredth win in franchise history. Boston has been in every game this season and is starting to prove they are for real and positioning themselves for a spot in the playoffs with their effort. Ohio rebounded from their loss to Florida by defeating Charlotte and moving out of the cellar and tied with Boston at 2-3.
Florida and Charlotte are both 1-4 and in need of help to turn their seasons around and avoid a disappointing season. Florida, like Boston, has been in all their games this season and has a solid nucleus upon which to build. With the recent acquisition of Miles Thompson via trade with Rochester and their top three draft picks becoming available after their college teams were eliminated from the college division one championship. The same can be said for the Hounds as they are struggling for offensive production. They need Garrett Thul and their draft picks to arrive and bolster the roster.
Teams are finding their roles more clearly defined as week six is in the books. The Lizards are still on top with Denver and Chesapeake jockeying for second place. Boston, Rochester and Ohio are in a three way tie for the fourth spot and none of these teams are going to roll over for anyone. The Launch and Hounds are facing long seasons to climb out of the cellar and contend for a playoff spot. There is still plenty of season left to play and a lot can happen, but for now the top teams are riding high and the bottom teams are looking for answers to get on a winning path. I plan on enjoying the rest of the season because in this league you just never know.