Major League Lacrosse is set to descend on Annapolis, Maryland on July 18 to kick off their 20th season in a tournament format. Pro Lacrosse Talk is covering every team and how they’ll measure up in Maryland.
The New York Lizards head into the 2020 season seeking redemption after finishing last in the standings in 2019. BJ O’Hara’s squad will have their work cut out for them after losing superstar Rob Pannell to the PLL, following a quiet 63-point season that saw him tied for second in points. They’ll turn to established pros Dylan Molloy, Justin Reh and Austin Kaut to lead a team that many have already written off. Yet, it’s a short season, and momentum can be a powerful thing for a group of underdogs.
Balance on both sides of the ball
The New York Lizards lost some big-name players this offseason with Rob Pannell and Greg Puskuldjian joining the PLL and Kevin Crowley getting shipped to Philadelphia. Yet, they retain leaders at nearly every position. Dylan Molloy will lead an attack that is expected to feature rookie Andrew Pettit and Connor O’Hara. Justin Reh will headline an offensive midfield unit with Alex Spring working the field at LSM. And Jack Carrigan and Ben Randall return to anchor a defense that will see Austin Kaut in cage for his second year as the Lizards netminder. The Lizards are well-rounded and could surprise other MLL teams that suffered more drastic losses this offseason.
Youth and Inexperience
While the Lizards have many leaders on the team, they also have a handful of young players that will be expected to step up this season. Mark Andrejack is entering the season as the team’s top faceoff specialist and will be key in helping New York control the pace of play. Their ability to play consistently and control the flow of the game will benefit them and keep them in games.
Players to Watch
The Lizards landed the Lehigh attackman in the final round of the draft and it could turn out to be the biggest steal of 2020. It’s possible that other teams were wary of drafting him due to past injuries, but the bottom line is Pettit is a talented attackman who can score in a variety of ways. Look for him to make an immediate impact and successfully play off Tewaaraton winner Dylan Molloy. There’s certainly no replacing a player of Pannell’s caliber, but Pettit could turn some heads this summer and prove a lot of doubters wrong.
New York drafted Colin Burke third overall in the 2020 MLL College Draft and hope he can make an immediate impact at the midfield. He’s spent time at both attack and middie during his college career at Fairfield and Utah so expect Coach BJ O’Hara to use him all over the field, much like former Lizard Kevin Crowley was used last season. It’d be unreasonable to expect Burke to fill in seamlessly for the veteran Crowley, but if Burke can produce on a consistent basis, the Lizards could surprise a lot of teams.