As the halfway point of the Major League Lacrosse season approaches and the All-Star break looms around the corner, teams are showing which of them have championship potential. The rich got richer while the poor got poorer. Denver and Boston remain at one and two respectively while Chesapeake worked to distance itself from Atlanta, which suffered a rough weekend as they dropped to 4-3. But the records of New York and Dallas kept the Blaze safely in fourth place.
Denver came out firing on Atlanta as the Outlaws built a 7-3 lead in the third quarter. The Blaze held on in the second quarter matching the Outlaws’ four goals and not allowing Denver to build its lead. Atlanta got hot in the third as they outscored Denver 6-2 to tie the score at 13-all. Denver regrouped and played a tight fourth quarter that saw Zach Currier score the winning goal. Randy Staats led Atlanta with six points (3 goals and 3 assists). Chris Aslanian led the Outlaws with five points (4 goals and 1 assist). Denver next faces Dallas and Boston and has the potential to sweep the weekend and remain in first. Atlanta takes on Boston and Dallas and needs to sweep if they are going to make a run at the championship this season.
Matters did not get better for Atlanta as they hosted Boston two days later. The Cannons jumped out to an early 6-4 lead at the end of the first, but their offense went silent in the second, scoring one goal to the Blaze’s five. Atlanta appeared to have the game in hand going into the third quarter, but Boston hung another six goals on the Blaze to take a 13-10 lead. Atlanta fell short in the fourth despite outscoring Boston 6-4 in the final quarter. Mark Cockerton led the Cannons with five points (4 goals and 1 assist). Brendan Sunday led Atlanta with seven points (4 goals and 3 assists). Boston next hosts Atlanta and then travels to Denver. The Cannons have spent the majority of the season in first or second place and no other team shows signs of taking them down. Boston and Denver each appear to hold their destinies in their hands.
Dallas continued searching for a win as they faced Chesapeake and played a very close first half. The Rattlers managed a 3-2 lead at the end of the first quarter and held on for a 7-6 lead at halftime. Chesapeake outscored Dallas 4-2 in the third quarter for a 10-9 lead. Chesapeake continued to apply the pressure and held on for the win 13-11. University of Tampa alumni and Bayhawks’ rookie Andrew Kew (3 goals and 1 assist) joined Lyle Thompson (2 goals and 2 assists) and Steele Stanwick (3 goals and 1 assist) in leading Chesapeake with four points. Adam Osika led Dallas with four points (3 goals and 1 assist). Chesapeake next hosts a New York team looking to change its destiny then travels to winless Dallas. Chesapeake joins Denver and Boston as a team holding the keys to their championship chances. New York and Dallas find themselves at a point where they need to evaluate their rosters and look to the next season.