Dallas’ Offense Finally Putting The Pieces Together

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Photo Courtesy of Dallas Rattlers                                                                                                                      

The Dallas Rattlers started the season with a seven game losing streak, and with an average goal differential of 3.2. The Rattlers clearly showed that they were capable of winning, but continued to have breakdowns that they just could not recover from, especially in the second half. 

Finally, the Rattlers secured their first victory in week seven, beating the Denver Outlaws 11-8 on the road. It was a momentum boosting win for the Rattlers and gave them a ton of energy heading into the All-Star break. They were able to squeak out another win in Atlanta on Saturday, beating the Blaze 16-14 in a contest that came down to the final minutes. 

While many factors can be attributed to the Rattlers’ recent success, the way their offense has transformed and gotten impressible better from week-to-week has been one of the biggest. They are no longer wasting possessions, looking out of sync, or killing a play in transition before it even gets started. The Dallas offense has indeed looked much improved over the past few weeks. 

The Rattlers’ offense looks much more poised and settled than they did early in the season, and they are moving the ball more efficently and with a purpose. Also, the addition of midfielder Adam Osika helped them out tremendously. 

Since being traded to Dallas from Chesapeake a few weeks back, Osika has really aided in settling down this young Rattlers offense and making keep the plethora of rookies and second-year players in check. Osika is able to get a touch and calm the offense, allowing plays to develop much more naturally instead of forcing it.

In addition, attackman Bryce Wasserman and LSM Eli Salama have both stepped up and continued to improve in recent weeks. Wasserman has really been an initiator from behind the cage, using his speed to create separation and set himself or a teammate up for a great look on cage. Salama has been deadly in transition all year, but over the past few weeks he has taken it to the next level. The British Columbia native is much more crisp in his passing and has taken much more time to let things develop, allowing their transition to be much more effective and reduce the silly mistakes. 

The Rattlers have also seen massive contributions, and improvement, from rookies Jake Seau, Bradley Voigt and Lucas Wittenberg, as well. All three have really been able to provide a spark at times and help lead this Dallas offense in some way or another.

This is a Dallas team that now knows how to win and play through a full game. While the youth of this team can still cause them troubles at times, they have minimized their mistakes and finally started to put all the pieces all together, especially on the offensive end. 

Brendan Sunday Dominates MLL All-Star Game; Continues Breakout Rookie Season

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Photo Credit: Dale Zanine                                                                                                                                   

The MLL All-Star Game took place over the weekend in Annapolis as Team Ice, captained by Lyle Thompson, defeated Team Fire, captained by Rob Pannell, 16-15 in overtime.

While the game as a whole was great there was one storyline in particular that stood out to many during this game. That storyline was the play of Atlanta Blaze rookie attackman Brendan Sunday. The Towson product put on a show, wowing fans all game long with his impressive array of offensive firepower as a scorer and a feeder.

Sunday ended the game with five points (4G/1A), including the game-winner in overtime. The rookie was simply on another level as he helped lead Team Ice to victory over Team Fire. Sunday took the reigns, ran the show, and did it just like he was a veteran.

Having such an unbelievable performance as a rookie playing in your first All-Star game may come as a surprise to some, but knowledgable lacrosse fans know just how special of a player Sunday is and how good he can be. 

Sunday’s success in the All-Star game and this season, in general, is no accident or fluke. The attackman has been grooming his craft and working towards this moment for years now. During his college days at Towson, Sunday was a key fixtures of the Tigers’ offense and regularly put up four-five point performances. He even had a few games where he tallied eight and nine points with most of those points coming from goals. 

The All-Star attackman was a force to be reckoned with during his time at Towson and still is now with the Atlanta Blaze. Thus far, Sunday has tallied 23 points (13G/10A). He is a big part of that fiery Atlanta Blaze offense that can strike at any given time.

A Poughquag, N.Y. native, Sunday’s ability as a pure sharpshooter is surely appreciated, but his passing game has seemed to develop the most during his rookie season with Atlanta, feeding some of the other amazing player makers on that offense. 

Sunday brought that same mentality to Annapolis on Saturday. Even though he was playing for Team Ice, Sunday was ready to catch fire and did just that. Sunday didn’t let the words All=Star get into his head all, and just simply went out there and did what he does best, ball harder than anyone else on the field.

With the second half of the season coming up next weekend the Atlanta Blaze will need the services of Brendan Sunday to help keep their offense flowing and ultimately keep winning the way they are.

 

MLL Standouts: Week Eight

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Photo Courtesy of Pretty Instant                                                                                                                       

Week eight of the MLL season saw three games take place, and it all started on Saturday night as the Atlanta Blaze beat the Boston Cannons 15-2 and the New York Lizards defeated the Chesapeake Bayhawks 14-10.

The week wrapped up on Sunday afternoon as the Dallas Rattlers secured their first win of the season, beating the Denver Outlaws 11-8 on the road. 

Here are some players that really stood out during week eight of the MLL season. 

OFFENSIVE PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK

Yet again, the Atlanta Blaze put on an absolute show with their fiery offense this past weekend. Randy Staats really ran the show as he was able to be the leader on offense and make plays all over the field. 

In addition to his scoring ability, Staats really put his passing game on display to help lead his team to victory. Staats was the quarterback of the Atlanta offense on Saturday night, and his play was one of the biggest factors that contributed to the them pulling out the win. 

Staats put up eight points (2G/6A) in the 15-12 win over Boston. Those six assists set a new Atlanta Blaze franchise record for assists in a game. 

DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK

While it wasn’t the greatest team performance from the Chesapeake Bayhawks on Saturday against New York, Jesse Bernhardt did not disappoint as he made plays all night long, really aiding the struggling Bayhawks defense. 

Bernhardt was a bright spot for the Bayhawks all game as he was able to cause havoc for the New York offense, even during times when it seemed all hope was lost for Chesapeake. Bernhardt was even able to get up and down the field a few times, jumpstarting the Bayhawks offense in transition. 

Statistically, Bernhardt caused three turnovers while also scooping up four ground balls in the loss. He also had one shot on goal as well, but did not convert. 

GOALIE OF THE WEEK

The Dallas Rattlers finally put it all together and secured their first win of the season, and they did so taking down the defending champs as well. A big part of the Rattlers win was the play of rookie goalie Sean Sconone who stood on his head all game long. 

Sconone hasn’t been the starter for Dallas all season, but has certainly made his presence known the last few weeks. The rookie has been shining bright, making impressive save after impressive save, and this weekend the win finally came to highlight his performance even more. 

The rookie made 20 saves off of 28 shots on goal to help lead Dallas to victor over Denver. 

Rookie OF THE WEEK

Cannons rookie defensive midfielder Zach Goodrich has been putting on a show all season, and even showed up once again this weekend.

Goodrich was making plays at both ends of the field just as usual. While the rookie gave the Cannons an edge on the defensive end, he was also able to help jump start their offense and make things happen in transition. Goodrich made his presence well known as a scoring, passing, and defensive threat. 

The rookie out of Towson scored one goal while also scooping up three ground balls in the loss against Atlanta. 

 

Boston Trades Shawn Evans To Dallas

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Shawn Evans going up against an Atlanta Blaze defender (Photo: Capital Gazette)                              

On Friday, the Boston Cannons traded attackman Shawn Evans to the Dallas Rattlers in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2020 MLL draft. 

A Peterborough, Ontario native, Evans is a legend in the box game having won two Minto Cup’s, seven Mann Cup’s, and one NLL championship. Evans is a two-time NLL MVP and the only player in history to win a Minto Cup, Mann Cup, and NLL championship within 12 months. 

Evans, a four-year MLL veteran, was acquired by Boston in the MLL dispersal draft back in the spring. He has only played in seven games during his MLL career due to the NLL and Box commitments, but has tallied a total of 25 points (14G/11A). 

The attackman was drafted in the sixth round of the 2017 supplemental draft by the Chesapeake Bayhawks. He played three games for the Denver Outlaws in 2018 before being acquired by the Ohio Machine late in the season.

Evans has appeared in two games for the Boston Cannons this season after being picked in the MLL dispersal draft back in the spring. He has tallied three points (2G/1A) with the Cannons. 

 

MLL Championship Weekend To Be Held In Denver

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Photo Courtesy of Dallas Rattlers/MLL                                                                                                            

On Monday morning, Major League Lacrosse (MLL) announced that Denver will host the 2019 MLL semifinals and championship games from October 4th-6th. This marks the first time that the MLL will play their championship game in Denver, known by many as the Lacrosse Capital of The West. 

The MLL semifinals will be played on October 4th at Peter Barton Stadium, sitting on the campus of the University of Denver. The MLL championship game will be played at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on October 6th. ESPN 2 will broadcast the 2019 MLL Championship game. 

Both Peter Barton Stadium and Dick’s Sporting Goods Park know how to put on high quality lacrosse events, and have done so in the past. Peter Barton Stadium is the home of the Denver Pioneers and hosted the Big East Tournament this past season. Dick’s Sporting Goods Park is home to the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer and hosted the 2014 World Lacrosse Championships. 

In addition, this will be the first time since the 2013 season that the MLL will host the semifinals and championship on the same weekend, and will be the latest the championship has ever been played in the league’s 19-year history. 

MLL Standouts: Week Seven

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Photo Courtesy of Denver Outlaws/MLL                                                                                                         

Week seven of the MLL season saw four game take place, but it was a little different with two of those games being played on Thursday afternoon. In those Thursday afternoon games, the New York Lizards beat the Boston Cannons 15-2 and the Denver Outlaws beat the Atlanta Blaze 18-17. 

In addition to those two games, the Boston Cannons beat the Atlanta Blaze 17-16 on Saturday and the Chesapeake Bayhawks defeated the Dallas Rattlers 13-11 on Sunday. 

Here are some players that really stood out during week seven of the MLL season. 

OFFENSIVE PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK

Rookie midfielder Brendan Sunday continues to put on a show, adding more fuel to fire that is the Atlanta Blaze offense. Sunday has been stepping up and improving each week, but this past weekend may have just been the best he has looked in an Atlanta Blaze uniform. 

The Atlanta Blaze offense has been one of the most electric this season, and Sunday has been at the forefront of it all. The midfielder has been able to really be that catalyst from the midfield that they have needed. He thrives as both a passing and scoring threat, and no one seemed to be able to slow him down. 

Sunday’s great weekend started on Thursday when he tallied five points (4G/1A) in Atlanta’s loss at Denver. He then upped that performance on Saturday, tallying seven points (4G/3A) in Atlanta’s loss against Boston.

DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK

Boston Cannons Veteran defenseman PT Ricci has continued to impress throughout his career, and did so once again this past week. While Boston went 1-1 over the weekend, Ricci was on his game in both games as a leader on defense. 

Just as usual, Ricci was giving every opposing player a very tough time getting anything going at all. He was all over the defensive end and really showed why he has been successful in this league for such a long time. The veteran continues to prove why he has been in the league for as long as he has. 

On Thursday, Ricci just had one ground ball as Boston lost to New York. Ricci really made an impact on Saturday, helping Boston hold off Atlanta’s comeback. The veteran had three ground balls and one caused turnover in Saturday’s game. 

GOALIE OF THE WEEK

New York Lizards goalie Austin Kaut has been putting on a show each game this season. He really aided the New York defense in a much needed win over Boston on Thursday. 

While New York hasn’t been the best team this season, their defense has been a bright spot. On Thursday, Kaut was one of the brightest stars on that end of the field for New York. Kaut was able to make save after save, especially in the second half, to help New York complete the comeback and secure the win. 

Kaut made 18 saves off of 30 shots in New York’s comeback win against Boston on Thursday. 

ROOKIE OF THE WEEK

Denver Outlaws attackman Chris Aslanian has been one of the most impressive rookies this season. Aslanian was up to his shenanigans again this past week, making the opposing defense look silly while making a difference in every way possible. 

The rookie continues to be one of the Outlaws’ main offensive threats, making an impact as a goal scorer and a feeder. Aslanian really aided Denver this weekend as he tore it up against the Atlanta defense, leading Denver in the 18-17 victory. 

Aslanian led the way for Denver with five points (4G/5A) in their win over Atlanta on Thursday. 

 

Dylan Molloy Leads New York Past Boston

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Photo Courtesy of New York Lizards                                                                                                                

The New York Lizards used a huge second half performance to take down the Boston Cannon 15-12 on Thursday afternoon. The Lizards put on an impressive display at both ends, especially in the second half, to secure the win. 

While it was a full team effort from New York that ultimately led them to victory Dylan Molloy seemed to be leading the charge for New York’s offense as he was the leader all game long. 

The star-studded attackman was really able to set the tone for the Lizards offense in the first half when their effort as a team was lacking. Molloy was able to do his thing, using his body to get pressure the defense and get quality looks on cage.

Molloy really set the tone for the rest of the offense as the entire unit seemed to follow his lead. He was able to get looks all over the field, converting from inside and out on the wings. 

While Molloy started the second half with maybe the best goal of the game he started to draw more attention, thus becoming more of a facilitator. Molloy was able to get it done as a passer, setting guys up and being the catalyst for plays in the six on six set.

He also did a lot of those little gritty things that really impact the game and boost a teams momentum. Molloy was hustling after ground balls, riding hard, and even drew multiple penalties which gave his team a man-up opportunity in return. 

Molloy ended the game with four goals and three ground balls as he helped lead the Lizards to victory. 

MLL Standouts: Week Six

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Photo Courtesy of Smug Mug                                                                                                                             

Week six of the MLL season saw a lot of action, and it all started on Thursday night with the Denver Outlaws annual Fourth of July game. This year Denver hosted the Chesapeake Bayhawks and secured the 14-13 win. 

In the lone Saturday night game the Chesapeake Bayhawks beat the Atlanta Blaze 16-13. On Sunday the Boston Cannons defeated the Dallas Rattlers 15-11 and the Atlanta Blaze beat the New York Lizards 12-11. 

Here are some players that really stood out during week six of the MLL season. 

OFFENSIVE PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK

It’s been said over and over again. Lyle Thompson is the best player in the world. That statement rang true this weekend as he put on an absolute show in both of the Bayhawks games. 

The attackman lit up the crowds in both games with his usual insane finishes and impressive plays that look nearly impossible. Thompson was the focal point of the offense, but as usual he did much more than just put up points. 

Thompson, as usual, was the hardest working player on the field at any given time. The attackman was not only scoring, but riding harder and more efficiently than other players in transition. As a result he also racked up a few caused turnovers and ground balls in both games. 

In the Chesapeake loss against Denver on Thursday, Thompson had six points (5G,1A). In the win against Atlanta he tallied eight points (5G,3A). Thompson is now first in the league in points with 25. 

DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK

On Sunday the Boston Cannons sent the Dallas Rattlers searching elsewhere for their first win of the season. While Boston got the win by a score of 15-11 this game was pretty wide open until the final period. 

Veteran defenseman PT Ricci can be given a ton of credit for Boston pulling out this one as he really helped lead the defense. Ricci’s performance helped the Cannons really get their transition started quickly, especially in the second half when they needed it most to start pulling away. 

Ricci was giving every opposing player a very tough time getting anything going at all. He was all over the defensive end and really showed why he has been successful in this league for such a long time. 

In Boston’s win over Dallas Ricci recorded one caused turnover while also scooping up four ground balls. 

GOALIE OF THE WEEK

On Thursday night Dillon Ward yet again proved to the lacrosse world why he is considered one of the best, if not the best, goalie in the sport right now. Ward stood on his head, helping to lead the Denver defense all game. 

While the weather delay did seem to mess with Ward a tad bit due to how the ball was bouncing he recovered quickly. Ward’s dominance came out early when he shut the door on Lyle Thompson, even after a few fakes were thrown. It was simply a world class play by a world class player. 

He also got hot down the stretch when the game was in the balance, helping to pull out the Denver win. Ward finished the game with 12 saves off of 26 shots on goal. 

ROOKIE OF THE WEEK

Atlanta was put in a difficult situation this weekend when Randy Staats – the team’s leading scorer – was ejected in the second quarter of Saturday’ game against Chesapeake and given a one-game suspension. 

With that hole to fill rookie midfielder Brendan Sunday stepped up to the challenge and absolutely delivered with his play on the offensive end. Sunday was not only a contributor, but a key figure in both games for Atlanta over the weekend. He thrived as both a passing and scoring threat, and no one seemed to be able to slow him down. 

In Atlanta’s loss against Chesapeake Sunday tallied five points (3G,2A). The midfielder had three points (2G,1A) while also scooping up 3 ground balls in Atlanta’s win against New York. 

Can Dallas Finally Get Things Clicking? 

The Dallas Rattlers have been one of the more depressing stories of the season as they have yet to win a game, sitting at 0-6 on the season. While Dallas hasn’t won a game they have shown signs of growth as a young team and the future is certainly bright. 

Dallas showed again this weekend against Boston that they can play with anyone. The question that many have is can Dallas finally put together a full game? They have had great quarters and can hang for a half, but past that something is just not clicking as of yet. 

On defense for Dallas they have been pretty decent with Christian Carson-Banister in cage while Jake Pulver, Craig Chick, and others lead that close defense group. Also, Eli Salama has been a stellar LSM getting it done each and every week. 

While Dallas has had a somewhat impressive defense, it’s the offense that seems to still be lagging behind. Even with Bryce Wasserman, Lucas Wittenberg, and others points are still hard to come by. They have improved and shown great promise but those chances have been very minimal. Dallas has the ability to push their foot on the gas and go in the fast lane all game long.

The only thing stopping them is their own mistakes and growing pains. It’s a slow process, but things can look much better in Rattler land. 

 

MLL Suspends Randy Staats and Warren Jeffrey Following In-Game Scrum

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Photo Courtesy of Atlanta Blaze/MLL                                                                                                              

On Sunday, Major League Lacrosse (MLL) announced that Atlanta Blaze attackman Randy Staats and Chesapeake Bayhawks defenseman Warrem Jeffrey had each been handed a one-game suspension following an altercation between the two in Saturday night’s game. 

The altercation between the two took place early in the second quarter. The scrum quickly turned into a fight with both players appearing to throw punches. Both players were ejected following the scrum. There were multiple other players penalized on both sides following the incident. 

Chesapeake went on to win the game by a score of 16-13. The game was interrupted by a pretty lengthy weather delay after the first half. 

Before getting ejected, Warren Jeffrey scooped up one ground ball and caused one turnover. Randy Staats tallied 2 points (1G,1A). 

Staats, sixth in the league in points, will serve his suspension today as the Atlanta Blaze face the New York Lizards. Jeffrey will be serving his suspension next week on Sunday, July 14th as the Chesapeake Bayhawks face the Dallas Rattlers. 

Rookie Chris Aslanian Proving His Worth With The Outlaws

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Photo Courtesy of Denver Outlaws/MLL                                                                                                         

The Denver Outlaws currently sit atop the MLL standings with a 5-1 record through six and a half weeks of the season. While Denver has a very stout defense, their offense has been extremely consistent early in the season as well. 

Denver certainly has no shortage of offensive star power with  players like Zach Currier and John Grant Jr, but rookie Chris Aslanian may be one of the most crucial pieces of the Outlaws offense. The Hobart product’s game has somewhat evolved in just a few moths from college to pro.

No longer “The Guy’ for his team, a new role and higher caliber options on all sides have certainly contributed to Aslanian’s development early in his pro career. Aslanian may have been known more for his goal scoring ability at Hobart, but with the Outlaws he has evolved into more of an elite passing threat more than a pure goal scorer. 

Aslanian seems to always be a step ahead of the defense with his ability to see plays develop before anyone else. He has been a backbone of sorts for the Outlaws with his insane feeding ability. The rookie can make cross field passes on dime, find a cutter when working behind the cage at ‘X’, and keep the ball progressing in transition. He simply makes a difference. 

While Aslanian’s passing game is next level, the rookie is still a fantastic scorer who can get it done from all over the field. While not unleashed every game, Aslanian is a sharpshooter who can send bombs from up top and in the mid-range. As an X attackman, Aslanian also has the ability to blow by his defender, get to the cage, and finish inside.

His ability as a feeder is what many have seen during his first six games in the MLL, but it’s his versatility that allows him to fit him into that Denver offensive system so well. They can count on Aslanian to do whatever they need that particular game or in that moment. With his ability to be an elite passer and shooter he can contribute in many ways, aiding his team to the fullest. 

Through six games Aslanian has tallied 16 points (10G,6A). Most recently, Aslanian tallied 5 points (2G,3A) to help Denver in their comeback 14-13 win at home over Chesapeake on July 4th.

Aslanian is a pure offensive threat and as his game progresses as a pro he can only get better. Justing being a rookie, Aslanian has plenty of time to develop even more and become a consistent threat in this league for years to come.