I am what Connor Martin would call a “lax babe”. I follow lacrosse with the same intensity that preteen chicks reserve for Justin Beiber. Not just for the flow (which I am admittedly a straight sucker for), but also for the love of the game. Last weekend, I checked out the season opener of the Philadelphia Wings, as they hosted the Boston Blazers. Phenomenal game on both sides, especially for a season opener. Based on other openers last weekend, here is a list of players to watch this coming season for the NLL:

1) Philly Wings – Athan Iannucci
• First off, while I am unabashedly a fan of the BOOM, it’s objective that Iannucci is a Wings fan favorite. When he ran out into the Wells Fargo center, he brought the house down, returning since taking a season off last year due to injury. Wings owner Michael French commented that the former Hofstra forward is in “superior physical shape [this season] and looks like the Athan of old.” You mean the Athan that was the only 100 point scorer in the NLL in 2008? If that’s the case, the Wings are looking at a stellar season, especially since there is an insane amount of talent there.
o Notable Players: Max Seibald (arm is an absolute cannon, excellent defender on field), John Christmas (moves like a rocket, even after taking a year off to work on his non-profit L.E.A.P.S., awww), Paul Dawson (aggressive, great teammate on the field)

2) Calgary Roughnecks- (TIE!) Curtis Dickson and Mike Poulin
• The Roughnecks had an incredible weekend. They faced two great teams, the Stealth and the Bandits, and are now holding a 2-0 record for the 2011 season. These two games showcased these two players’ talents in different ways. Against the Bandits, Dickson, coming fresh out of the University of Delaware, rocked it with two goals (almost pulling a hat-trick, but the third attempt hit the posts). His senior season with Delaware proved his worth as a professional player (he led the entire NCAA in goals scored and points), and his performance against the Bandits proved his worth as a Roughneck. He’s also…A BARTENDER!!!!! Now that I love. A man who can mix drinks and score goals. Woot!
• In the game against the Stealth, I’m going to call goalie Mike Poulin the MVP. He nabbed NLL’s Defenseman of the Week award, and hopefully doesn’t slow down this season. The Stealth got in 55 shots to the Roughnecks’ 27, and still the Roughnecks won 13-11 against the defending champions. In the game against the Bandits, Poulin stopped 33 shots on goal. Skills. AND his pre-game rituals include coffee (aka what may or may not be the only thing in my veins) and Eminem. Vurry cool.
o Notable Players: Scott Ranger (Five goals in the FIRST HALF? Deserves his NLL Offenseman of the Week), Geoff Snider (Buzz is he’s the “best fighter in lacrosse”, and a faceoff dominator. Killer combo)

From a Different Angle…

3) Washington Stealth – Rhys Duch
• The Stealth may be the defending champions, but they are in no way resting on their laurels. You can’t not be impressed with the performance Duch gave last Saturday, clinching a win for the Stealth against the Mammoth, after already notching five points (one hate trick PLUS three assists). The Mammoth tried to fight back, taking the game to overtime, but were no match for Duch’s streak. He also added two goals and four assists in Sunday’s game against the Roughnecks, giving him the edge as “league-best” of the year so far with 12 points. If this is just the beginning, this team could be rocking back-to-back rings.
o Notable Players: Paul Rabil (If you don’t know Rabil, you don’t know pro lax. 111 mph shot, and so far leads the league in loose balls. Deadly. Also, have you SEEN those Maverik commercials?!), Lewis Ratcliff (Won last year’s Reebok championship game MVP, and with 5 goals and two assists against Calgary, only getting better)

4) Colorado Mammoth- John Grant Jr.
• Grant may be a rookie on the Mammoth, but he sure as hell doesn’t play like one (granted, he is actually a seasoned NLL vet, having played 10 years on the Knighthawks). The Mammoth put up a great fight against the Stealth on Saturday, but fell to them in overtime. Grant contributed 4 goals and 2 assists to the effort, and if that was a game they lost, I’d love to see what happens when they win. If scoring and collecting loose balls win games, it looks like Grant’s got what it takes to be a champion.
o Notable Players: Ned Crotty (Also coming off of Team USA, Duke’s NCAA D1 Championship, insane lefty shot, MLL’s 2 pt shot champ 2010…quite the resume, Crotty), Mike McLellan (“The Maestro” quick-shot two goals, contributing to the game effort, known as a great “off-ball” player)

5) Boston Blazers- Josh Sanderson
• Josh Sanderson grabbed two goals and put in four assists this weekend, which is impressive, but not as impressive as what he is poised to do. Sanderson is about to become the 4th player in NLL history to amass 1000 points. He has 960 as of last Saturday, and even though he’s ten seasons strong in the NLL, he doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all. He’s looking to hit the 1000 mark by February, and if he keeps playing like he did last Saturday, it looks more than likely.
o Notable players: Casey Powell (last year’s NLL MVP, top scorer in game against Philly), Dan Dawson (2009’s MVP, no surprises here either, a monster player. These three are a dream team)

Hope you liked my first post on Lacrosse Playground. If you would like to continue this conversation follow me on Twitter @MarilynMonBRO.

I’m Sammie, and am not A “lax babe”, I’m THE “lax babe”. My first big-girl crush was on a laxer, who let’s just say is still on the field (and in the box) today, and it’s only expanded from there. I live and work around bros, who I love and could hang out with all day every day. One could really even call me a “bro in babe’s clothing”. While lax is (with a bullet) my favorite sport, it’s not the only one I follow, growing up a diehard NY Giants/Yankees fan. If all I had was YouTube clips of MLL skills championships, my aviators, my Ipod, Summer days, pinneys, and laxers, I’d be one happy chick.