Major League Lacrosse reached the critical fourth week when the separation between playoff teams and those in need of retooling becomes apparent.
The Atlanta Blaze kicked off the weekend’s action by defeating the Dallas Rattlers 13-11. Last season the Blaze looked ready to take the next step and make a serious run at the playoffs and a possible championship. Dallas played in the championship game last season as the favorite but failed to win the Steinfeld Cup. The Blaze began red hot against the Rattlers as they took a 4-2 lead at the end of the first quarter. Dallas refused to roll over for Atlanta and keep the score close at halftime as the Blaze led 8-6. Atlanta managed a 3-goal lead by the end of the third as they led 11-8. Dallas attempted a comeback and outscored Atlanta 3-2 in the final quarter but fell short as the Blaze won. The Blaze proved effective shooting the ball as 62 per cent of their shots landed on cage as opposed to Dallas’ 49 per cent. Atlanta moved into a tie for third with Denver as Dallas remained in fifth thanks in part to a New York loss. Atlanta does not play again until July 6 when they tangle with the Bayhawks. The outcome of that game will go a long way in determining if the Blaze are starting hot or a true contender.
Boston continued their turnaround season and held onto first place as they handily defeated New York 18-11. The Lizards entered the game looking for their first win of the season and appeared ready to play as they kept things close. At the end of the first quarter as Boston led 5-3. Boston still clung to a 2-goal advantage as the Cannons led 8-6 at halftime. The situation got out of hand for New York in the third as Boston’s offense fired off six goals in the third and led 14-8. The lead Boston built in the third proved too much for New York despite a tightly contested fourth quarter. Boston and New York remained in the same spots that they both occupied the previous week; first and sixth. Not only did the Cannons outshoot the Lizards 48-39, Boston managed to put 65 per cent of their shots on goal while New York only landed 53 per cent of their shots. Boston takes on third place Denver while New York faces Dallas to move out of last place. The Cannons look the part of a playoff team while New York searches for answers and wins.
Atlanta and Boston came ready to play this season after finishing at the bottom half of the standings and missing the playoffs last year. It appears both squads accepted the exodus of many top performers to the PLL and the remaining players made the most of the opportunity. The first four weeks are now in the books and the next phase is making it to week eight and determining seeding for the playoffs. College and indoor seasons are both over so any late additions to the rosters reported and now the top four teams look to increase their lead on Dallas and New York. We are in for some good lacrosse either way.