The New York Lizards traveled to The Star in Frisco, Texas for the semifinals of MLL championship play and ran into a buzz saw in the form of the Dallas Rattlers, falling 15-12 and ending their bid at returning to the championship game.
The Rattlers showed why they held onto the number one spot in the regular season longer than any other team by jumping out to a 6-1 lead in the first quarter. Ty Thompson, Randy Staats, Jordan Wolf and Ben Reeves all found the back of the net in the first quarter. Dallas also found some scoring from unexpected sources such as faceoff specialist Drew Simoneau and long-stick middie Joel White. New York responded with Rob Pannell and Jake Bernhardt scoring two goals each in the second to narrow the Dallas lead to 9-5 at halftime.
Both teams went toe-to-toe in the third quarter as they traded goals like two prizefighters, tallying four goals apiece making the score 13-9.
Despite outscoring Dallas 3-2 in the fourth quarter, time ran out on New York’s attempted comeback. Dallas moves on as the face of the league; the model of consistency in Major League Lacrosse. They now prepare to play for the Steinfeld Trophy.
John Galloway and Drew Adams both played well in the cage making 12 and 11 stops, respectively, as they showed the audience they are still two of the best goalies in the world.
Jordan Wolf (2G/2A) and Randy Staats (2G/2A) led Dallas with four points each. Rob Pannell (3G/2A) led New York with five points. Simoneau went 24-31 on faceoffs and had an answer for each of the four different players that New York threw at him.
As Dallas moves on to face the Denver Outlaws, runners up in 2017, we have two western teams playing for a championship on the east coast that mirror each other eerily. Denver has been a model of consistency making the playoffs almost every year they have been in existence. Dallas had similar fortunes even before moving to Frisco. Both play out of excellent NFL facilities.
As they meet in Charleston this coming Saturday, Denver will face a determined Rattlers’ squad with a chip on their shoulder, having managed to keep their core together after the move from Rochester for unfinished business and a championship. Denver lost their starting goalie Jack Kelly to an injury sustained in the FIL championship, but have a more than capable backup in Dillon Ward, and their offensive stars like Chris Cloutier, Eric Law, Mikie Schlosser and Zach Currier are all capable of putting up big numbers.