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MLL Recap: Hammerheads get first franchise victory, Outlaws take championship rematch

Photo courtesy of Major League Lacrosse

Connecticut Hammerheads 10, New York Lizards 8

Connecticut, behind strong performances by veterans on both ends of the field, defeated the New York Lizards for their first victory in franchise history, 10-8.

Bradley Voigt led the Hammerheads in scoring on the evening with four goals. Connecticut also had some new faces find the score sheet for the first time to complement the veteran Voigt’s performance.

After struggling early in the week, 3rd overall pick, Michael Kraus netted a pair of goals against the Lizards and added an assist for good measure. After being held scoreless in their first two contests, Connecticut hopes that Kraus’ performance on Wednesday is just the precursor of what is to come as they look to make a run at a playoff birth.

The Lizards’ offense looked good in spurts and went goal-for-goal with Connecticut in the second half. Ultimately, New York could not overcome the lapse in scoring between the 1st and 2nd quarters that saw them go goalless for over 19 minutes.

The Lizards’ Sean O’Brien (3 goals, 2 assists) continued his successful week in Annapolis, leading New York in scoring, while rookie Andrew Pettit also notched a pair of goals. The Lehigh alum has had a strong start to his young career, scoring in all four Lizards’ games thus far.

After losing a majority of their starting poles to the PLL in the offseason, it has taken the Hammerheads’ defense some time to to adjust to playing with one another.

“They were communicating really well tonight. Talking through the slide packages. They’re getting to know each other and are more familiar with one another,” said Hammerheads’ head coach Bill Warder. “And Sean (Sconone) played absolutely outstanding (in net).”

Sconone finished Wednesday night with 15 saves, including 11 in the first half. The big lefty has now recorded 45 saves in three games.

Despite being winless on the week, the Lizards are not officially eliminated from playoff contention just yet. New York will need to to beat Philadelphia on Thursday by at least three goals and then have Connecticut lose their final two contests to advance to Saturday’s semifinal match-up.

Defense, party of (Scon)one

Hammerheads’ goalie Sean Sconone has been one of the best keepers all week in Annapolis. This continued Wednesday evening, as he made 15 saves against New York to give Connecticut their first win in franchise history. On numerous occasions, Sconone was left on an island, but came up with huge saves nonetheless. The 2019 MLL Goalie of the Year will have to continue to stand on his (hammer)head if Connecticut has any chance of making the playoffs as they take on Boston and Chesapeake in their final two contests.

Filling the Voigt

Bradley Voigt chose a good day to have his best game of the week, as the Syracuse alum netted four goals in Connecticut’s first victory on the condensed season. Voigt scored in a number of ways, including this slick move to beat Lizards’ goalie Austin Kaut. Given the reins to the Hammerheads’ offense in the offseason after the departure of Bryce Wasserman, Voigt has a chance to help lead Connecticut to the playoffs with victories in their remaining two games.

Denver Outlaws 13, Chesapeake Bayhawks 12 (OT)

This highly anticipated rematch of last year’s championship game lived up to the hype, as Denver scored the game’s final 4 goals, including in OT, to defeat Chesapeake 13-12.

Brain Kormondy’s game-winner helps keep Denver undefeated at 4-0 on the week, as the Bayhawks fall to second in the standings behind the Outlaws with a 3-1 record.

The evenly matched contest saw no team hold larger than a three goal lead, and was tied for the final 7 minutes of the 4th quarter. Both defenses played as well as expected, as they were pitted against the week’s two highest scoring offenses.

Denver’s Ryan Lee led all players in scoring with five goals on the night. The RIT grad continued his dominant week to remain, in my opinion, atop the short list for tournament MVP. In addition to Lee, the Outlaws saw four other players nab a pair of goals in the victory.

Lyle Thompson (3 goals) and Andrew Kew (2 goals, 1 assist) continued to be the spoons that stir the pot for the Chesapeake offense. Thompson continued to show why he is the best player in the world with this highlight reel, one-handed goal.

The play of Denver’s Max Adler at the X was a deciding factor in this one, winning 22 of 25 face-offs of the night. The Outlaws will look for the Bentley alum to play a significant role again if these two squads match up in the playoffs this weekend.

In the loss, Chesapeake goalie Brian Phipps continued his strong performance in cage, stopping 16 shots on the night. Phipps had a busy night, facing 10 more shots on cage than the Denver goalie tandem. One shot saw the 10-year veteran come up hobbling. This injury appeared to linger throughout the remainder of the contest. Luckily for Phipps, the Bayhawks have an off day Thursday.

Both teams will get some much needed rest before playing their final games of group play on Friday. Chesapeake takes Connecticut at 4:00 p.m., while Denver plays in the night cap at 7:00 p.m. against Boston.

They really don’t like each other, do they?

This was a great bull dodge by Chesapeake’s Colin Heacock. It really was. But the most interesting footage could only be caught if you were watching in real time. Following the goal, Heacock stared down his defender and had a few choice words for his friend in orange.

It’s pretty clear that these two squads aren’t cordial with one another. That animosity may have something to do with the outcome of last season’s championship game, or just the growing rivalry between the league’s perennial franchises. While each team’s motivations may differ, this is for certain; their next match-up will be one you won’t want to miss. (p.s. I think it will be on Sunday)

OT-laws

We saw our first overtime game of the week, as the Outlaws’ Brian Kormondy beat Brian Phipps for the game-winner to keep Denver undefeated on the week. This finish was only fitting as it concluded what was the best overall game thus far in Annapolis. As the week and group play comes to a close, there are still two playoff spots up for grabs, with no team officially eliminated from postseason contention. Here’s to hoping we have a few more finishes like this before the week comes to an end.

Order Major League Life: Why Major League Lacrosse Players, Coaches, and Fans Share a Passion for a League that Often Goes Overlooked

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Adam Moore is a Delco native, co-founder/host of Pro Lacrosse Talk and managing editor of Lacrosse Playground. He also has a passion for sports history and serves as Lacrosse Playground's creative director. Adam has been writing on lacrosse for more than a decade and has been published online with The Capital Gazette and US Lacrosse Magazine. Adam played four years of college lacrosse as a goaltender for Elizabethtown College. When he’s not covering pro lacrosse, he can be found coaching at Boys’ Latin School in Baltimore and watching Philadelphia sports.

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