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.

Pro Lacrosse is Back in Annapolis

Chad Toliver (31) and Isaiah Davis-Allen (26) prepare for game 1.
Photo Credit: Pretty Instant /Major League Lacrosse

Jared Welsh, LTR Mid-Atlantic

It was a very different feel at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium today as Major League Lacrosse kicked off its week long tournament. The home of the Chesapeake Bayhawks is used to hosting big time lacrosse game, but never in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Coming to the stadium was exciting and familiar having covered the Bayhawks for the last 10 years, but I knew it was going to be different. The empty stadium and lack of music or PA announcements was very eerie as the teams were warming up.

The hometown Bayhawks drew the first game taking on an old, and somewhat familiar rival in the Philadelphia Barrage. Major League Lacrosse added a few wrinkles to the week long tournament. A brighter colored ball has already paid off in terms of visibility and splitting the sidelines to help distance players and personnel as much as possible. Usually in odd situations, it’s the familiarity of the game that makes everything seem right. The Barrage won the opening face-off via former Towson standout Alex Woodall and play looked a little rusty in the 97 degree Annapolis weather. Overthrown passes and sloppy transitions, mainly due to the split sidelines, made the opening quarter a bit erratic.

The Barrage also got the scoring started just 3 minutes and 10 seconds into the game as MLL vet Tommy Palasek scored unassisted. Almost a minute later, another long time MLL player, Mark Matthews scored in heavy traffic for Philadelphia. The Barrage would get a goal from Shayne Jackson and go up 3-0 before the Bayhawks tallied their first. Second year attackman Andrew Kew got the scoring started off a Ryan Keenan assist. The Bayhawks would end the first quarter on a 3 goal run and tie the game at 4.

The second quarter started much like the first, as Philadelphia added two goals from Tyson Gibson and Palasek. Chesapeake would answer with their second 3-goal run of the game getting scoring from Luke Anderson, Andrew Kew and Ryan Keenan. The Barrage would score the final two goals of the half by way of Colin Minicus and Palasek.

The third quarter started much as the previous two, an Alex Woodall face-off win and a Barrage goal. Tommy Palasek found Jon Mazza to take the 9-7 lead. Chesapeake would rattle off another 3 goal run, two of which came by way of man-up opportunities from Lyle Thompson and Andrew Kew. The Barrage would tie it at 10 with 34 seconds left off a Tyson Gibson goal.

Alex Woodall would go 4 for 4 in quarter opening faceoffs, but this time it would be the Bayhawks that would score first. Lyle Thompson would find Nate Solomon in traffic to take the 11-10 lead. Jon Mazza would get time and room off the assist of Mark Matthews to tie it for the Barrage a minute and a half later. Colin Heackock would find Andrew Kew open on the extra man set to start a 5 goal Chesapeake run that included goals from Lyle Thompson, Nate Solomon, and two more from Kew. The Bayhawks take game one by a final score of 16-11 over Philadelphia.

Chesapeake goalie Brian Phipps (11 saves) said that “it took us a little while to get our feet wet” after only two days of training camp. Playing in the league’s first game with split sidelines took some getting used to. “I thought it would be more chaotic and fast-break style, but you saw teams panic and get back so it allowed easy, settled clears in the second half.” Phipps continued, “It was more patient in the second half, so we could deliver the slower clears so we could get our personnel on”. When asked about the split sideline Bayhawks Coach Tom Mariano stated, “Coaching wise it’s weird” but went on to say, “I love it, I think it’s something everybody should do it, high school, college…if you work hard, you’re going to get transition”. Philadelphia Barrage midfielder Matt Whitcher said “we did a pretty good job with it, especially with it being the first time” when talking about the sidelines. He went on to say, “In practice is felt a little weird and we were going to feel the change, but come game time it was back to basics”.

As the players and coaches get used to the new rules, lighter ball, and playing without fans, expect to see the game speed pick up. Teams also have limited time to make adjustments in a week long tournament. “The team that improves the most over the course of this week is the team that’s going to be playing next Sunday” added Whitcher.

The Bayhawks improve to 1-0 and will face the New York Lizards tomorrow at 1pm on ESPN2. Meanwhile, the Barrage fall to 0-1 and take on the Denver Outlaws at 4pm, also on ESPN2.

A Champion Is Crowned

Philadelphia, PA– Memorial Day weekend means a lot of different things to a lot of people. It is a time to reflect on those that gave the ultimate sacrifice to allow everyone else to enjoy the lives they live. For some it is a trip to the beach or to the pool. Others visit with family and friends around the grill. However, for approximately 82,000 people, it is also a time to celebrate the sport they love….Lacrosse.

The NCAA men’s lacrosse championships have been played on Memorial Day weekend for as long as I have been a lacrosse fan. Before joining the media ranks, I attended several championship weekends as a fan. It has been a lifetime of memories for me, my dad, and my brother. In 2003, we enjoyed watching Virginia play in the mud of M&T Bank Stadium (then PSINet) in Baltimore. In 2010, it was the excitement of C.J. Costabile scoring 5 seconds into overtime to win Duke a national championship. 2017 saw the culmination of a lifetime of lacrosse fandom when the Maryland Terrapins won their first title since 1975.

2019 has been a thrilling year for lacrosse fans at any level. Parity seemed to be the theme across all three NCAA divisions. In Division II Merrimack won back to back titles as a send off to Division I. However, it was not without tests along the way. Division III saw a first time champion as Cabrini won the title in front of a hometown crowd. The Division I tournament featured 5 overtime games to lead us to today’s National Championship game between the University of Virginia and defending champs, Yale University.

Yale got things started off two minutes into the game off a Jack Tigh (2G) extra man goal. Moments later, Virginia would answer back as Matt Moore (4G, 1A) took it by himself from the X to tie the game at one. As the team’s settled in to the game, Virginia decided to work bottom to top from the offensive end. This allowed Moore to get his second goal of the game by slipping into the dirty zone and get a below goal line pass from Mikey Herring (1 A) to send the Cavalier’s up 2-1.

In the second quarter it was Yale scoring first. Virginia goalie Alex Rode (8 GA, 13 Saves) came out of the net to double a loose ball, however, Matt Brandau (3G, 2A) won the battle and fed Matt Gaudet (2G) to tie the game at 2. Virginia would not let the game stayed tied very long. Michael Kraus (3G) beat his defender with an over the shoulder shot to put the Cavalier’s up 3-2. Virginia was add another goal by Kraus as he as able to receive a great feed from Jeff Conner (1A) in the middle of the box to send the Cavalier’s up 4-2 mid-way through the quarter. Virginia would then go on to score two goals in the span of eight seconds of game time. First, it was left handed burner from Dox Aitken (2G) followed by face-off win and goal from Petey LaSalla (2G, 4-17 FO) to send Virginia up 6-2 with just over five minutes to play in the second. The score would stay that way going into the halftime break.

The beginning of the third quarter saw T.D. Ierlan (18-24 FO) win the opening face-off and feed John Daniggelis (1G, !A) who was able to double hop into a time and room shot to score for Yale. Just 45 seconds later, Brandau would find Gaudet and Yale would pull within two. However, Virginia would steal a ground ball just after possession was called on the face-off and Ryan Conrad would march down field and bury the one on one goal to send the Cavalier’s up 7-4. The fourth goal in three minutes was scored by Kraus from Moore to improve Virginia’s lead to 8-4. Moore would continue his involvement in the Cavalier offense scoring his third goal of the game by beating his defender from the X. The ensuing faceoff would be won by LaSalla where he would score his second goal of the day as the Cavalier’s went up 10-4. After a brief injury stoppage, Virginia would use almost all off the shot clock before Moore sent home a sidearm low-to-high bullet for his fourth goal of the game. Yale would get the last possession of the quarter put the ball in Brandau’s stick. The Boy’s Latin product was able to avoid and over the head check and put the ball past Alex Rode for this first goal of the game with .4 seconds left on the clock.

Going into the final quarter of play, Virginia lead the game at 11-5. Aitken would get the scoring started in the 4th, running down the right side to get his second goal of the day, increasing the Virginia lead to 12-5. However, Yale would win the ensuing faceoff and work the ball to Brandau, who was able to catch and step into his shot. Mid-way through the quarter Yale’s Jackson Morrill (1A) would find Lucas Cotler (1A) open in the middle of the field to pull the Bulldogs within 5. Brandau would continue the comeback notching his third goal of the game. However, time would be on the Cavalier’ side as they were able to hold the ball most of the final 3 minutes and getting an additional goal from Ian Laviano (1G), who had the goalie out playing defense on him. Yale would notch one more goal with 6.8 seconds left in the game as Virginia switched goalies. The final score was 13-9 as Virginia was crowned the 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Champions for the sixth time in program history.

–Jared Welsh–