The New York Lizards finished the year as the second worst team in the league. Despite having some big names on the roster such as MLL Rookie of the Year Rob Pannell, Goalie Drew Adams, midfielder Max Seibald and defenseman Brian Karalunas, the Lizards knew they need to improve. And improve they did, by a lot. The Lizards made two moves that puts this team in the playoff mix and makes them very exciting to watch.
The first move they made was acquiring attackman Ned Crotty and midfielder Matt Striebel from the rival Rattlers in exchange for attackman Grant Catalino, a 2014 4th round Collegiate Draft Pick, a 2014 6th round Supplemental Draft pick, the third overall pick in this year’s Collegiate Draft and their first pick in next year’s Collegiate Draft. However, they weren’t done as they also sent midfielder Stephen Peyser to the Ohio Machine for midfielder John Austin and the 13th overall pick in this year’s draft.
With those deals done, the Lizards continued to make noise in the offseason as they acquired midfielder Steve DeNapoli and a 4th round supplemental draft pick from the Rattlers in exchange for midfielder Mark Matthews.
With both moves, the Lizards are going to be good. How good can they be? Well for one their offense is going to feature a lot of weapons all over the field. Pannell and Crotty will take turns distributing the ball to Max Seibald and Striebel who will stretch defenses from behind the two point line. Attackman Tommy Palasek and midfielder JoJo Marasco will provide even more scoring opportunities as well.
Defensively, the team shored up a pretty solid defensive midfield unit with the acquisition of All-Star SSDM DeNapoli. He will help spell the Unterstein brothers and will make for a deep SSDM unit. It will certainly help Adams who faced a plethora of shots. While he let up the most goals in the league at 172, he made 209 stops, good for the top spot among all goalies. He also ranked fourth in save percentage. Shoring up the SSDM unit and pairing it with CJ Costabile and Karalunas should see this team next a big step forward.
The additions should also help improve their special teams, specifically their man-up offense. That unit ranked dead last in the league at an abysmal 17 percent, despite leading the league in man-up opportunities.
Expect big things from the Lizards this year as a result of the big name additions and look for the team to also address the defensive side of the ball with their first couple of picks. Their offense will surely carry them a long way and at the very least, get them to Championship Weekend.