With the All-Star game in the books, it is now time for the MLL to collectively take a breath and get ready for an intense finale to the regular season. While every team will say they take things one game at a time, I’m not part of any MLL team, so let’s take a look at everything coming down the road in the next few weeks. Here are the top things I will be watching for as the remainder of the season unfolds.
Will Florida find their groove?
The Launch have the last two Tewaaraton winners, the defending MVP, and the defending Rookie of the Year running their offense with middie Steven Brooks ready to fire an outside bomb at a moment’s notice (even though he has no two point goals this year). Despite that, they have the league’s lowest scoring offense and have the second most goals allowed in the league. While they are still working players into the fold, their existing base shouldn’t need new parts to make them work better. This team could explode at any moment, perhaps the week off was what they needed.
Boston’s taking the veteran approach
Boston is sitting at 4-4 with two other teams and is playing beyond outside expectations. After an offseason loaded with roster turnover, the Cannons have lost two games to New York (that’ll happen this year), an early season OT loss to Charlotte and they have split with the Rattlers. Not too bad. What’s interesting though is the team with two first round picks in the collegiate draft hasn’t dressed either of them (coach’s son Ryan Tucker or John Glesener), nor have they dressed their second round pick Wells Stanwick. Then, they had no picks until the fifth round where they picked up Harvard defender Brian Fischer and Rutgers FOGO Joe Nardella, who also haven’t played. Round eight TA Demoulas from Bentley? Definitely not. That makes three of the top 12 picks and seven total selections that have never strapped on the Cannons helmet on game day. If they start playing, could that separate the Cannons from the pack, or will it disrupt a team that is really starting to play well together and find an identity?
“…..And find I’m a number one
Top of the list
King of the hill
A number one…..”
Some of you may recognize those lyrics from “New York, New York”, but they really do describe the Lizards right now. Undefeated. 19 more goals than the next highest teams. 10 fewer goals against. Two of the top three scorers in the league. They also have the most dominant faceoff player the league has even seen. Greg Gurenlian’s 78.4% is destroying his own league record of 64.1% and he’s on track for 297 total wins, while the league record is 249. He’s also tied for 6th most ground balls in a season already. Did I mentioned he actually sat out a game too? He’s done all this in just 7 games! The Beast aside, New York is the team to watch. They have two tough games with Denver left and an Ohio rematch. They also have Chesapeake again, who they only beat by a goal. I don’t think the Lizards are going to back their way into the playoffs, but remember when Denver went undefeated only to lose in the first round of playoffs? I’ll bet you the Lizards do.
Can the Rattlers return?
Last year’s runner up had a rough start to the year. Plagued by injuries and NLL roster gaps, the Rattlers had one of the worst quarters of lacrosse I’ve ever seen against New York. With defending MLL defender of the Year Mike Manley back in the lineup along with Joel White, their defense is back on track. Adding in FOGO John Ortolani, rookies Jack Near and Kevin Rice, and another NLL player Jordan MacIntosh, this team is very dangerous again. Rice has seamlessly transitioned into the MLL and looks at home alongside league leading scorer Jordan Wolf and All-Star MVP Jeremy Boltus. What’s really scary is they can toss Mark Matthews and Randy Staats into the lineup at any point, just for fun. Good luck with that if you’re a defender in the league.