Author: Jared Welsh

A Must Win in Day 3

Jared Welsh, LTR Mid-Atlantic

Day three of the Major League Lacrosse week long tournament kicked off in Annapolis, MD as the winless Philadelphia Barrage took on the winless Connecticut Hammerheads in a must win game for both teams. Philadelphia has slightly more pressure for victory as they enter the game 0-2 dropping games to the Chesapeake Bayhawks and the Denver Outlaws. Connecticut got the day two bye, and coming off a 18-6 loss to the Outlaws would look to bounce back and get one in the win column.

Philadelphia trotted out #1 draft pick and Towson graduate Alex Woodall to control the opening face-off. It would take just 28 seconds for the Barrage to strike the first blow as Mark Matthews found the back of the net. On the ensuing possesion for the the Barrage, a Brendan Sunday rebound would get picked up by team make Tyson Gibson. Gibson with the quick reaction was able to find Shayne Jackson for the second Barrage goal of the game. The Barrage would continue to pepper Hammerheads goalie Sean Sconone with shots as Matthews buries his second of the game. The Hammerheads were not going to give up as Ryan McNamara would score their first goal of the game with 7:31 remaining in the quarter. However, Tommy Palasek would find Colin Minicus for the goal to answer back for the Barrage. With under six minutes to play, the Hammerheads would get a pair of goals from Will Sands and Noah Rak to pull the game within one.

Noah Rak would win the opening faceoff of the second quarter and get the ball into the offensive zone. Once again it was Sands finding paydirt and tying the game at four. The Barrage would answer as Jon Mazza would work the ball over to Brendan Sunday who used his athleticism and array of fakes to gain back the lead for Philadelphia. All game the long the bodies were dropping as big hits and big checks seemed to the order of the day. However, an unnecessary roughness call would give the Barrage the man advantage. It was Sunday receiving a pass from Matthews to build the lead to two. A faceoff violation by Woodall would give the Hammerheads possession and an extra man as Brett Craig would be called for slashing. Now Connecticut would take advantage of the man up when Will Sands found an open Bradley Voigt. It would be Voigt once again working himself open to get a wide open four foot goal to tie it at 6. It take just ten seconds for the Barrage to capitalize on a Alex Woodall faceoff win when Sunday found Matthews once again for a goal.

The Hammerheads came out of halftime ready to play. Noah Rak would win the opening faceoff and take it to the goal himself to tie the game at 7 in just six seconds. Connecticut kept the pressure one winning the ensuing face off and getting the ball to Dan Lomas for their first lead of the game just 14 seconds later. However, Mark Matthews would get the ball to the X and drive to the far side for a diving goal to tie the game at eight. The Barrage would work themselves into their set offense with Tommy Palasek passing from bottom to top to a wide open Brendan Sunday who connected on a streakin step down shot to regain the lead. Philadelphia long stick midfielder P.T. Ricci helped to push transition with a pivotal ground ball to allow the Barrage to once get work within their offense. This time it would be Hopkins standout Kyle Marr that would find Ryan MacSpayden if front of the net for a behind the back goal. The quarter ended on the longest scoring drought in of the game of 9:21.

The scoring drought would continue for three and a half minutes into the fourth when some crisp passing from the Barrages’ Shayne Jackson to Brendan Sunday grew their lead to 11-8. The Barrage would continue their run as Jon Mazza would score on the run shooting across his body. A few moments later Colin Minicus would start the possession by passing the ball to the top of the arc only to get it back from Matthews where Minicus buried the ball home. The Hammerheads would end a 25:12 scoring drought with a goal from Ryan McNamara who took it upon himself to get to the rack. Coming down the near side and falling on a cut behind the crease, McNamara was able to regain balance and dive in for the goal. The Hammerheads would chose the double the ball off the endline after an errant Barrage shot. This would allow Tommy Palasek to find a wide open Shayne Jackson for the 14th Barrage goal of the game. Noah Rak would win the following faceoff to give the Hammerheads possession. Cody Radziewicz would get the ball coming out of the substitution box and take it all the way down himself to cut the lead down to four. The Barrage would be able to hold the ball and use the shot clock to run time down and take their first win of the tournament with a final score 14-10.

Philadelphia head coach Spencer Ford said “We started off pretty hot, but had a couple of hiccups there, but I thought we fought on both ends of the field”. The Barrage were looking to get their offense clicking, whenever Connecticut would score, Philadelphia would answer back. “If they throw one we gotta hit them back with two punches. Everytime them came and got something we did everything we can to at least play good on the other end and get a good look”, Ford stated of his offense. Coach Ford, also a former MLL player, said of having a team back in Philadelphia, “I lost to them in ’07 Championship and I’ve said it before, if you can’t beat them, join them. As we push into 2021 we are going to play in front of those great fans, so our goal here is to step on the field and show some sort of toughness and grit”.

The Barrage improve to 1-2 and will take on the Boston Cannons tomorrow at 4pm on ESPN+. The Hammerheads fall to 0-2 and will play the New York Lizards on Wednesday at 4pm on ESPN+.

Game 3: Denver Comes Out Hot

Dan Bucaro, 77, scores one of his four goals.
Photo Credit: Pretty Instant / Major League Lacrosse

Jared Welsh, LTR Mid-Atlantic

The third game of day one of the Major League Lacrosse week long tournament featured the Denver Outlaws and the Connecticut Hammerheads. Unlike the previous two games, the stadium started to provide some shade for the 7pm start time.

Denver came out of the gate hot scoring the only goals in the first quarter. Charlie Hays got things going at the 10:27 mark. A fast break caused by Ryan Lee gave a great look to Chris Aslanian to make the score 2-0 just 12 seconds later. Ohio State grad Jack Jasinski scored with 5:51 left in the quarter. The final two goals came from Brian Kormondy and Daniel Buraco.

The Hammerheads would eventually get on the scoreboard as Ryan McNamara got things going in the second. However, Denver would not let up as league veteran John Grant Jr found Miles Silva 38 seconds later to add another tally for the Outlaws. Junior was at it again with an assist to Ryan Lee to take Denver up 7-1. Connecticut was able to get back to back goals from Cody Radziewicz to bring the score to 7-3. Once again, the Outlaws would not let the Hammerheads get comfortable as Ryan Lee picked up his second of the game. Lee wasn’t finished as he took advantage of some defensive ball watching and buried another goal from in front of the crease. Both of Lee’s goals in the quarter came by way of assists from Aslanian. Mike Schlosser wanted to break things up a bit as he got in on the assist to Lee game with 3:07 left, Lee was found roaming the crease all alone for the easy goal. The Outlaws would take a 10-3 lead in to the half time break.

It took until the 8:37 mark for the third quarter to get the first goal of the second half. Daniel Buraco drove from the X and carried his defender along the way. There was just enough separation for Buraco to send home his second of the day. The Outlaws continued to use one-on-one matchups to create scoring opportunities. Miles Silva backed up his defender to get close to the crease to get score his second and take the score to 12-3. Bradley Voigt would used a backwards sidearm shuffle shot to break the 21 minute scoring drought for the Hammerheads. In true Outlaws fashion, they come back with two unanswered goals by Jasinski and Buraco to end the quarter with a 14-4 lead.

A behind the back bounce pass from Dan Lomas a wide open Bradley Voigt got the scoring started for the Hammerheads in the final quarter. Less than a minute later, James Burr grabbed his own rebound put the Outlaws lead back to ten. Chris Aslanian took advantage of a defensive communication breakdown and put the bounce shot past Sean Sconone take Denver to a 16-5 lead. It would take 36 second for James Burr to find Miles Silva for another Outlaws goal. Right at the two minute mark, Voigt got open on the defensive slide and put home his third goal of the game for the Hammerheads. It would be Dan Bucaro that would answer back for the Outlaws and reach the 4 goal mark with less than a minute left to play, taking the score to 18-6.

RIT standout Ryan Lee finished the game with 4 goals and 1 assist, “it was a huge win for us to come out here, we didn’t know what to expect with two days of practice, so to come out here with a win like that was awesome for us to get the confidence going”. The 18 goal output was the most by any team in day one. When talking about the Outlaws defense Lee commented, “our guys are strong back there, they’re tough, they’re a big D back there. I bet they are pretty scary to play against”. Defensive coordinator Ken Clausen said, “I thought our short sticks played phenomenal, the poles did a good job getting out on guys”. Clausen mentioned using Zoom calls to help build the defense and discuss strategy knowing they would only get two days of practice. On the 18 goal output, Clausen said, “it takes a little pressure off. You understand things are going to happen. Teams are going to get goals. But when you have an offense that’s putting up points, it takes a little pressure off, allows us to play a little more comfortable and a little more freely”.

The Outlaws improve to 1-0 and will take on the Philadelphia Barrage (0-1) tomorrow at 4pm on ESPN2. The Hammerheads fall to 0-1 and will play the Philadelphia Barrage on Monday at 4pm on ESPN2.

Game 2: New York vs Boston

Bryce Wasserman drive to the goal.
Photo Credit: Pretty Instant / Major League Lacrosse

Jared Welsh, LTR Mid-Atlantic

As the field temperature at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium rose to 120 degrees, the New York Lizards took on the Boston Cannons in Annapolis. The second game of a triple header in the week long Major League Lacrosse week long tournament. The Lizards came out shooting in their isolation style offence. Lizards rookie Colin Burke (Fairfield) turned heads with a couple of upper corner goals that challenged the strength of the goal netting. New York also received a goal from another rookie, Leigh’s Andrew Pettit to end the first quarter up 5-3 with the help of Connor O’Hara and Brendan Kearns. Boston getting goals from Mark Cockerton, Bryce Wasserman, and Challen Rogers.

Mark Ellis kept the scoring going for New York to open up the second quarter. It would be the first of five back and forth goals for the pair of teams until Boston used two back to back goals from Wasserman to pull with one at 8-7. The scoring streak would not last long as Colin Burke ripped off his third goal of the game with a time a room shot that any lacrosse player would wish for. As the quarter wore on, the physicality and chippy play started to pick up with Boston serving a trippin and unnecessary roughness penalties to go along with pushing and shoving from both sides after many whistles. Scott Corcoran would end up scoring the first 2-point goal of the 2020 tournament for the Cannons, but the Lizards would take a 12-9 lead into the locker room at half.

It was Boston’s Mark Cockerton who took advantage of a great pick to score a wide open goal to pull the Cannons within two just minutes into the third quarter. However, a mix of sloppy play and good defense by both teams rattled off over 8 minutes of scoreless play until Cockerton scored again off a Randy Staats assist to make it 12-11 New York. The Lizards would not go down quietly as Dylan Malloy dodged and muscled his way to his second goal of the game less than a minute later. Connor O’Hara would add another New York goal. Boston would answer back with some flare as Randy Staats connected with Kyle Jackson for the behind the back goal. The quarter would end 14-12 New York.

The final stanza continued the chippy play that even included Boston’s goalie Nick Marrocco coming out of the crease to throw his weight around. The scoring would begin almost five minutes into the quarter as Randy Staats was given too much room to step into a shot. Boston was now within one goal. A face-off violation and a flag down would lead to the Cannons tying the game as Staats found Jackson on the crease. Jackson was able to beat Austin Kaut with three quick fakes to bury the goal. An eight minute scoring drought by the Cannons was broken by another Cockerton goal, is fourth of the game with only 1:44 to play and gave Boston the lead, their first lead since 1-0 in the first quarter. The insurance goal game just a minute later as Bryce Wasserman also collected his fourth. Them game would end with Boston taking the 16-14 win.

After the game Bryce Wasserman said, “this was an interesting game for us as a team, there’s a lot of guys from this Cannons team last year, but obviously myself included there are a lot of new pieces. We really only had four hours to mesh together as a team, and Randy Staats was only there for two of them. This was a unique game because we were learning how to play with each other while playing against another team”. The Cannons spent almost the entire game playing from behind or tied. “We know what we have, we have some of the most talented in the league and in the world in general. We never lost faith in that and I think we just stayed composed because we knew what we had, it was just going take time”, Wasserman said. Cannon’s goalie Nick Marrocco said of the new players and shortened pre-season, “it’s tough when you have new guys, trying to develop team chemistry in two days isn’t an easy thing to do”. He continued, “the mentality coming in, it’s going to be a grind, but a lot of it is mental. We have a lot of guys that have experience playing pro lacrosse, we can bounce ideas and settle the boys down when things aren’t going well”.

The Cannons (1-0) will take on the Bayhawks (1-0) on Monday at 7pm on ESPN+. The Lizards (0-1) will face the Bayhawks tomorrow at 1pm on ESPN2.