(Photos Courtesy of Major League Lacrosse)
The Connecticut Hammerheads are off to a bumpy start in their first season as a franchise. The Hammerheads currently sit with an 0-2 record and are one of two teams, along with the New York Lizards, that have yet to win a game through the first three days of the 2020 MLL season.
Connecticut was blown out, 18-6, in their franchise debut against the Denver Outlaws on Saturday and lost to the Philadelphia Barrage, 14-10, on Monday, unable to sustain the energy from multiple first-half spurts.
But while the Hammerheads, as a team, haven’t looked great for a full game yet, there have been some bright spots. Two of those bright spots are a pair specialist, who are playing together for the fifth consecutive year. Goalie Sean Sconone and faceoff man Noah Rak played three seasons together at UMass, where they both received multiple All-Conference honors and helped lead the Minutemen to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2018.
The former Minutemen were reconnected in the summer of 2019 when Sconone was signed by Dallas in June and Rak was traded to Dallas in early August after sitting on the Bayhawks’ injured reserve list since being traded from New York earlier in the season. Now in Connecticut, the former college teammates are together for the fifth straight year and have been two of the brightest spots in an otherwise dull start for the Hammerheads.
Sconone, who was the MLL Goalie of The Year in 2019, has seemingly picked up exactly where he left off last season. The 5-foot-11 netminder got his 2020 campaign started with a 14-save performance against the Outlaws and followed up that performance with a 16-save performance against the Barrage.
While Connecticut has given up a total of 32 goals thus far, Sconone has been left on an island by himself many times in both of their games. And to be getting left out to dry as many times as Sconone has this season and still make the amount of saves he makes is truly incredible. Things could be looking much, much worse if they did not have him in between the pipes for cleanup duty.
Rak had a lesser impact on the Hammerheads opener against Denver, going 8-for-14 (57%) at the faceoff dot and scooping up four ground balls. But in the Hammerheads second contest of the season against Philadelphia, the Norwich, Conn. native was nothing short of impressive.
Going up against the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft and one of the best faceoff men in the league in Alex Woodall, Rak held him in check and the two went to war on every draw. Rak went 13-for-24 (54%) at the dot, scooped up eight ground balls, and scored two goals – including the first of the second half. Those two goals, which both came off of a faceoff win, provided significant sparks for the Hammerheads and allowed them to either gain or keep energy that they so desperately needed.
The Hammerheads’ next contest pit them up against the New York Lizards on Wednesday afternoon, and Sconone and Rak are surely going to bring their A-game once again as they help this squad search for their first win in franchise history.