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MLL Recap: Barrage and Hammerheads keep playoff hopes alive

Philadelphia Barrage 12, New York Lizards 11

It’s do or die time in Major League Lacrosse as both teams needed to win to have a chance to make the playoffs. At 1-3, the Barrage had shown glimpses of greatness all week, but struggled at times to turn face-off dominance into offense. The Lizards had held leads, but hadn’t been able to play a complete game.

A tale of quarters

The Lizards had leads after the first (3-2), second (5-3), and third (9-6) quarters on the backs of strong performances by Austin Kaut (12 saves) and Nick Aponte (3 goals). So what went wrong in the fourth? After Colin Burke put the Lizards up 10-6, the Barrage had seen enough and went on a 6-1 run to win the game.

Kaut had 0 saves in the fourth quarter, couple that with Alex Woodall going 6/9, and you get a lot more time on offense. Coach Ford mentioned that while Mark Matthews hasn’t been lighting up the score board, he’s been a heck of a leader for the team, inspiring the younger players. Matthews was able to find the net late in the second to show the youngsters he’s still got it.

Barrage settling in

When asked about the somewhat stagnant offense, and its improvement over the week, Coach Spencer Ford added “Now that we’re at the end of the tournament, you see guys starting to sling the thing around a little bit better than they were in the beginning, you’re getting out of the way for dodges. So I think the chemistry is great, however, the spacing is a little off in the beginning and now they’re starting to shape that up a little bit, where you’re seeing them play better lacrosse.”

Philly has plenty to celebrate

While at the time of this article Philly’s MLL picture is unclear, one thing that is clear is that the young players on the Barrage will have success for years to come. Coach Ford had high praises for many of his young players.

“Eddie Bouhall came in and was phenomenal. Mark Evanchick has been at very high level,” Ford said. “Liam Byrnes is the best defenseman in the league.. A guy nobody will mention is #16 Kevin Fox… he’s been a bright spot for us both his mouth, his energy, he plays with great hate.”

“I’ve really been impressed with Colin Minicus, Jon Mazza, and Tyson Gibson,” Ford added.

Philadelphia will be hoping for a Hammerheads loss on Friday since they own the head-to-head tiebreaker with Connecticut. If Connecticut wins, their playoff hopes will be over.

No matter how the playoff situation pans out for the Barrage, they’ll be a force in 2021.

Lizards lose out, yet future is bright

Yes the Lizards went 0-5 but believe me when I say that they did not play like an 0-5 team this week. They held leads in multiple games, they had great performances from the likes of Austin Kaut, Alex Spring, along with youngsters Decker Curran, Andrew Pettit, Nicky Galasso and Colin Burke. 

“(Collin Burke) jumped off the page right away with his quicks…Decker Curran did a great job, especially today, he played some bigboy lacrosse today,” Alex Spring said.

“This whole week, first off, the MLL did a great job with all this. Kind of from the second we got here through our time its been first class the entire way. Everythings been taken care of really easily, we didn’t have to stress about anything, the MLL killed it,” Spring added when asked about the overall experience.

Expect New York to return in 2021 hungrier than ever.

Connecticut Hammerheads 11, Boston Cannons 8

Michael Kraus has found it, whatever it is. He didn’t have it in the beginning of the week, but better late than never as he scored a pair of goals in back to back games.

Along with Kraus the play of Bubba Voigt could be described as inspired as he has scored 7 goals in the last two games. 

Shark Week ramps up

Together Kraus and Voigt have injected sharkblood into the Hammerheads offense and led them to two straight victories. Tonight’s game was incredibly close as Boston was down by just two goals with 4:36 to go. The stats would indicate the same, as both teams had one man-up goal, turnovers and ground balls were similar, and faceoffs were nearly split. What then, gave the Hammerheads the edge?

Sean Sconone is that edge. He is in my book, the MVP of the tournament as he already has 67 saves with 48 goals against for a 58% save percentage. That includes tonight’s ridiculous save percentage of 73%!!!! If the Hammerheads have any shot at beating Chesapeake on Friday they’re going to need another solid performance from Sconone and even bigger performances from Kraus and Voigt.

Boston fails to finish, playoff hopes now in doubt

Boston benefited from strong performances by Kyle Jackson and Bryce Wasserman, but they’ll need their stars to step up against the Outlaws if they want a playoff spot. Randy Staats was held scoreless on 5 shots, partially thanks to Sconone, but I expect him to turn it up to 11 tomorrow against Denver.

The Cannons currently control their own destiny and can get in with a win against Denver. A loss, along with a Hammerheads win also gets them in as the #4 seed since they would own the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Philadelphia Barrage.

If both the Hammerheads and Cannons lose, the Barrage would earn a playoff berth thanks to a three-way tie and their +2 goal differential against Connecticut and Boston. The tiebreaker would hen revert to the head-to-head between Boston and Connecticut, giving the Hammerheads the final spot over Boston.

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