It was an exciting weekend for fans of the MLL, as the final four had exciting games for their audience. The top seeded Rochester Rattlers needed a late surge to get by the upstart Ohio Machine. For the second consecutive week, the Outlaws and Lizards went back and forth, with the winner just scratching ahead by one goal in the end.
New York v. Denver
Denver was led by John Grant Jr.’s seven-point evening, but this was a collective team effort for the win. Going to the stat sheet, only one offensive minded player was without a single point. That means the Outlaws didn’t rely on a single person to produce all the needed points to win.
Jeremy Sieverts started and finished the scoring for the Outlaws. Ten players were able to register points, which kept the Lizard’s defense honest. Jr. was allowed free range to get to the goal and produce, but did so while being a part of the total team offense. The balance was essential to getting the win as the Lizards had to feel that anyone could have gotten the goal for the Outlaws, with Sieverts just happening to be the winner.
Denver and New York both played penalty free games, which did not allow for one team to get easy extra man goals. This puts pressure on the offense because man up situations is limited (transition and power play), meaning that each offense needed to be precise with their play. Each team had one penalty during the contest. Neither offense was able to capitalize on their opportunities.
Drew Adams and Jesse Schwartzman both played well enough for the win. Adams turned away 13 shots, while Schwartzman 10. Since both were playing well and their defenses were dug in for battle in front of them, there were only two runs in the entire game. The Outlaws scored three straight to take a 4-1 lead in the first quarter. New York returned with one of their own to take a 12-11 lead later in the contest.
Statistically, even facing off was close. The combination of rookie Brent Hiken and veteran Anthony Kelly won slightly under fifty percent, going 14-31 on the day. Greg Gurenlian took all but one face off for the Lizards, going 16-30. Ned Crotty went 1-1 with his lone attempt.
If this game went another quarter, the lead would have likely gone back and forth like it had all game. The teams were so even that the winner just happened to have a little extra on their side. That extra came in the form of John Grant Jr. and his assists on the final two goals in Denver’s favor.
Ohio v. Rochester
Rochester needed to grind out a victory in this game to make it to the final game of the season. The team came out of the gates slow and allowed Ohio to take a four-goal lead in just over the first five minutes of the game. The lead again was four when Ohio led 6-2. After which Rochester chipped into the lead and finally taking their own lead of the game in the fourth quarter.
Kevin Leveille led the Rattlers with six goals. Seven players were able to register points in the contest, with Jordan Wolf the closest to Leveille with five points (3g, 2a). Face offs were in Rochester’s favor as John Ortolani 16-29. Jordan MacIntosh went 1-1 as well.
The defense played very well in the second half limiting the Machine to only three goals in the final two quarters. One of those three, and the Machine’s last tally, was in transition as Brian Farrell scored. Six on six situations, the Rattlers held the Ohio offense to shots that John Galloway could save. The Goalie of the Year responded with sixteen saves on the day.
Ohio took an early lead and just could not hold the grinding style of the Rattlers at bay. The weather worsened as the game continued, which Ohio fell victim to the gritty game in which the Rattlers experience knew comes with playoff lacrosse. The team came out excited with the first four goals and could not put runs together to keep pace after the first quarter.
Both teams capitalized on their power play opportunities as they combined for 2-3 in their attempts. The scoring for Rochester was able to stay constant through the contest when Ohio’s faltered. Through four quarter of play, the Rattlers had 3, 3, 4, and 5 in the pivotal fourth quarter. Ohio started strong scoring 6 goals in the first quarter, before things slowed. They finished the last three quarters going 2, 3, and 0 respectively.
Both offenses were equal in shots on goal. The difference was in the save percentage. The shots that the Rattler’s defense allowed were savable for John Galloway. Brian Phipps had eleven saves, but many of the goals scored were in close and much more difficult saves. Kevin Leveille scored six and Wolf three, which shows that offense was able to get in close.