Long Island Lizards Week 3 Preview
By Derek McLean
After two long weeks on the road, the Long Island Lizards finally get to play at home. They are preparing for their matchup, against the Boston Cannons at Stony Brook on Thursday. The Lizards are trying to rebound after a difficult 0-2 start to the season.
Last week Long Island lost to a physical Denver Outlaws team, who was playing their home opener. With the score tied 6-6 at the half. The Outlaws outscored the Lizards 7-2 in the third, thanks to some great play by Max Seibald, who finished with 3 goals, 3 assists and MLL Offensive Player of the Week honors. The Lizards made a run in the fourth quarter, shutting the Outlaws down offensively and cutting the lead down to 13-10 but couldn’t get any closer. Despite some good pressure, they struggled to beat Outlaws goalie, Jesse Schwartzman who finished with 12 saves on the day.
The Lizards got a strong performance from goalie Drew Adams who had 11 saves on the night, 8 in the second half. Adams was making only his second career Major League Lacrosse start. The Lizards were led offensively by midfielder Stephen Berger who scored 3 goals and 1 assist. He was the only Lizard to have multiple goals in the game.
The Lizards will look to improve on keeping their discipline this week. In their first two games the Lizards have been called for some critical penalties down the stretch, which helped contribute to their losses. “Penalties are definitely something that turns the game around,” says Lizards general manager Casey Hilpert. “We definitely had some penalties that hurt us.” The Lizards have been shorthanded 15 times so far this season, the most of any team in the league. Along with resulting in 3 shorthanded goals, the penalties have cost the Lizards possessions, an area which they have struggled in early.
The Lizards will face a difficult 2-0 Boston Cannons team, who are led by 2009 League MVP Paul Rabil. The Cannons are coming off of a tightly contested 17-15 victory over the Chicago Machine in week 2. Boston has a persistent, high scoring offense, which will look to beat the Lizards with heavy pressure and by creating prolonged possessions, with good ball movement and by creating turnovers.
The Lizards will need a good game from their defense to stop Cannons attack, featuring Matt Poskay and Rabil. “Obviously Boston has got a good line up,” says goalie Drew Adams. “But we feel like we do to and we are going to go into this week, working on our own game.”
The Lizards game will need veteran defensive leaders Brian Spallina and Nicky Polanco to have good disciplined movement to challenge the fast paced and highly skilled Cannons. “It’s good to have a veteran group in front of you,” says Adams, who is making the transition to Major League Lacrosse from college, a difficult challenge for any goalie. But says Adams, “It’s easy to step in and play while having that defense in front of you.” With an inexperienced goalie, limiting high percentage shots will be especially central for the Lizards success.
The Lizards will need to have good play from their midfielders. Led by Stephen Berger, Anthony Muscarella, and John Glynn, the Lizards will require good production from the unit on clears and fast breaks. The ability to create offensive possessions has been weak spot for the Lizards early in the season. The Cannons will try to limit Long Island’s possessions. “We’re going to need to move the ball a little bit better, and get our offense in a flow, “says Hilpert. He says the team needs to, “make sure we have the ball on the offense most of the time and win the time of possession battle.” The midfielders need to get the ball in the hands of their attack.
When on offense, the Lizards can be very dangerous. But with lack of touches, the unit has been stagnant. The Lizards only have three players who have scored 3 or more goals on the season. In comparison the Boston Cannons have 7 players, who have accomplished this. The offense is led by Berger, Matt Danowski, and Zach Greer, who are capable of putting up big numbers, when given the opportunity. The will look to improve on the 18 goals scored on the season, which is the lowest amount in the league.
The game is set to begin at 7:30 on Thursday at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York. It can be seen live on ESPN 3 and on the Universal Sports Network on tape delay Friday evening at 6:30.