The Big Picture: The Long Island Lizards will travel down to Annapolis for a matchup with the first-place Bayhawks. Chesapeake has already locked down a playoff spot, while the Lizards look to keep their one-game advantage over Boston and Rochester as the regular season winds down.
These two teams met on the opening weekend of the season, with Chesapeake taking a 13-11 decision on Long Island. However, the young Lizards are a far different team than they were at the start of the season, and still battling for a playoff spot, they should be the more motivated team.
Long Island Lizards: Long Island comes in having won three straight since being swept by Rochester in a home-and-home set four weeks ago. Had the Lizards managed even a split of that series, they would have clinched a playoff spot already. Now they find themselves essentially locked in a three-team battle for two playoff spots with Boston and Rochester, and every game is critical.
Players to Watch: Much has been made of the Lizards’ young stars, and rightfully so. However, this team still lives and dies with its veteran stars. At the center of it all is face-off specialist Greg Gurenlian and his league-leading .620 face-off percentage. Steady goaltender Drew Adams is second in the league in minutes, and has let in only five two-point goals all season, the fewest among starting goalies. But the midfield is where the Lizards’ veteran presence really stands out. Max Seibald is the best two-way middie in the game, and Brian Langtry and Stephen Peyser provide plenty of offensive punch from up top.
Chesapeake Bayhawks: Boston handed the Bayhawks their third loss of the season, a 16-13 setback at Harvard Stadium. The Cannons were fighting for their playoff lives, while the Bayhawks had punched their ticket to the tournament the week before. The storyline will be much the same this week, as the Bayhawks face another team on the playoff bubble. With little to play for and a possible rematch looming two weeks away, it will be interesting to see how much of his hand Bayhawks coach Dave Cottle chooses to show.
Players to Watch: After a quiet season thus far – by his lofty standards – two-time MLL MVP John Grant Jr. carved up the Cannons’ defense for six points last weekend. Grant teams with sweet-shooting Drew Westervelt to form one of the most dangerous attack combinations in the league. Kip Turner leads the league in both goals-against average and save percentage. Midseason acquisition Nicky Polanco has added experience and attitude to the Bayhawks’ defense.