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All-Star Preview: Analysis by position

By Molly Shunney & Thomas Livingston |  29 days ago

All-Star Preview: Analysis by position


The 2014 MLL All-Star Game will feature the best lacrosse players in the World. Here is a position-by-position breakdown of the match-up between Team MLL and Team USA, so you know who is playing and what to look out for on Thursday evening. Check out the line-ups, current statistics, and a “Player to Watch” at each position. 

Attack

Team MLL

Eric Law (Denver) 22G, 11A

Logan Schuss (Ohio) 18G, 5A

Matt Danowski (Charlotte) 10G, 1 2ptG, 3A

Drew Westervelt (Chesapeake) 6G, 4A

This is the first All-Star Game selections for both Law and Schuss. As for Danowski and Westervelt, this will be their sixth All-Star Game appearance. The four attackmen, who are used to playing against each other, are now on the same team. Surely, their pool of talent will be a good offensive mix against the daunting USA team. Law is currently ranked second in scoring in the MLL. Veterans Danowski and Westervelt can hopefully bring some of their past experience to defeat Team USA.

Player to Watch: Eric Law is a standout on offense for the Denver Outlaws. His consistency is a huge advantage, considering he has been able to net an outstanding 20 goals already this season. 

Team USA

Rob Pannell (New York) 21G, 10A

Brendan Mundorf (Chesapeake) 17G, 6A

Marcus Holman (Ohio) 17G, 2 2ptG, 7A

Steele Stanwick (Ohio) 3G, 19A

Kevin Leveille (Rochester) 13G, 6A

Ned Crotty (New York) 9G, 5A

Garret Thul (Florida) 13G, 2A

Head Coach Richie Meade has put together the most dynamic and well-rounded attack group on the planet. Led by 2013 Cascade Rookie of the Year Rob Pannell and 2010 All-World Selections Ned Crotty and Brendan Mundorf, this lineup has unheralded play-making ability. Pannell, Mundorf and Holman all currently lead their respective teams in scoring this season.

Player to Watch: Garrett Thul was a relatively unknown asset entering the MLL as a rookie in 2013 out of Army. Standing at 6’3” 230 pounds, Thul is a physical force and goal scoring threat. He has earned the respect of his teammates in Florida and across the league, but it remains to be seen if he will fit into Coach Meade’s crowded attack lineup.

Advantage: Team USA

If this had been a normal All-Star Game all the attackmen would have been all-stars and facing each other like they do during the season. Team USA picked the cream of the crop in advance of the World Lacrosse Championships and it will show Thursday night.

 

Midfield

Team MLL

Peter Baum (Ohio) 21G, 4A

Jeremy Sieverts (Denver) 14G, 5 2ptG, 4A

Justin Turri (Rochester) 12G, 2 2ptG, 9A

Kevin Crowley (Florida) 10G, 4A

Tom Schreiber (Ohio) 9G, 2A

Joe Walters (Chesapeake) 1G, 7A

Steve DeNapoli (New York) 4G, 1A

Kevin Unterstein (New York) 1G

Kevin Drew (Charlotte) 1A

2013 Warrior MVP Kevin Crowley is scheduled to play in the World Championship against Team USA later this summer. The Canadian will be trying to make a good impression against his future opponents, so you can expect solid play from the explosive midfielder. Justin Turri has been under the radar in the past, but leads the Rattlers in scoring this season with 17 points. Peter Baum, the Ohio Machine’s first overall pick in the 2013 MLL Collegiate Draft, will be making his first appearance as an MLL All-Star.

Player to Watch: You have to keep an eye out for Ohio’s Tom Schreiber. Schreiber has had a phenomenal rookie season, netting eight goals and feeding two assists. He is the only rookie to make the All-Star squad this year.

Team USA

Paul Rabil (Boston) 15G, 1 2ptG, 24A

Kevin Buchanan (Boston) 24G, 5A

Kyle Harrison (Ohio) 16G, 5A

Drew Snider (Denver) 14G, 4A

Max Seibald (New York) 16G, 2 2ptG, 2A

Dave Lawson (Rochester) 10G, 2A

Matt Mackrides (Chesapeake) 9G, 3A

JoJo Marasco (New York) 7G, 4A

Matt Abbott (Chesapeake) 5G, 2A

Jeff Reynolds (Chesapeake) 1A

Dan Burns (Chesapeake)

The Team USA midfielders are led by Paul Rabil, arguably the most dominant player in the MLL. While the offense is run through Rabil, Kevin Buchanan and Drew Snider can score in bunches. Defensive specialist Matt Abbott may be the most talented player in the group. He is a one-man clear and shutdown defender.

Player to Watch: Coming off a 2013 NCAA National Championship with Duke University, David Lawson enjoyed a breakout rookie season last summer in Rochester. The sturdy lefty talent is a two-way player and can make an impact at both the offensive and defensive ends of the field. He is a fixture of the first midfield line in Rochester and will be an exciting match-up vs. Team MLL.

Advantage: Team USA

Statistically both teams are stacked and the Team MLL middies will have a lot to prove against a seasoned group on Team USA.

 

Faceoff 

Team MLL

Anthony Kelly (Denver) 108-195

John Ortolani (Rochester) 114-228

Anthony Kelly and John Ortolani rank right behind Team USA’s Chris Eck and Greg Gurenlian on the MLL faceoff leaderboard. Though the rankings have remained the same for quite some time, Kelly and Ortolani are more than capable of playing against the two Team USA faceoff specialists and have played well in recent weeks.

Player to Watch: In the Week 7 game between Denver and New York, Outlaws’ Anthony Kelly proved that he could keep up with leader of the pack Greg Gurenlian. The two were evenly matched for just about the entire game.  If Kelly finds an opportunity to outplay Gurenlian or Eck, he will take the advantage. 

Team USA

Chris Eck (Boston) 120-199

Greg Gurenlian (New York) 126-212

The top two faceoff midfielders this season will battle for the honors of playing for Team USA. Eck and Gurenlian had identical records in 2013, with 232 faceoff wins. In recent weeks, the USA Coaching staff has considered keeping both players on the roster for the Tournament, a testament to the importance of this skill position.

Player to Watch: Greg Gurenlian was a late addition to the USA roster because of a nagging shoulder injury this season with the Lizards. He is a dominant force at the X and set the single season faceoff percentage record in 2013 when he won 0.641% of his draws. If he can stay healthy he will challenge Chris Eck for the starting position.

Advantage: Team MLL

While Gurenlian and Eck’s prowess at the X is not in discussion, we feel that Ortolani and Kelly have the edge here as they have been posting consistent numbers game in and game out.

 

Defense

Team MLL

Joel White (Rochester) 1G, 2A, 42GB

Ryan Flanagan (Charlotte) 34GB

Brodie Merrill (Boston) 2G, 1A, 31GB

Michael Manley (Rochester) 5G, 2 2ptG, 14GB

Brett Schmidt (Charlotte) 1G, 1 2ptG, 14GB

Kyle Sweeney (Boston) 13GB

Michael Simon (Denver) 2G, 6GB

Kyle Sweeney is the most experienced defenseman in this year’s lineup, making his seventh All-Star appearance. Ryan Flanagan and Brett Schmidt aren’t new to the scene either, having each been All-Stars at least once before. Michael Manley is a force to be reckoned with, and leads all MLL defensemen with eight points.

Players to Watch: Rochester’s Mike Manley is on fire. So far this season, he’s been named Warrior Defenseman of the Week twice. He gets the job done on both sides of the field. Manley has tallied five goals and two 2pt goals. His versatility is a strong asset for the Rochester and will be for Team MLL as well.

Team USA

Kyle Hartzell (New York) 3G, 1A, 26GB

Jesse Bernhardt (Chesapeake) 2G, 1A, 23GB

Brian Karalunas (New York) 22GB

Mitch Belisle (Boston) 16GB

Tucker Durkin (Florida) 13GB

Joe Fletcher (New York) 10GB

Lee Zink (Denver) 8GB

Michael Evans (Chesapeake) 2GB

Team USA has an abundance of talent at defense, including three 2013 MLL All-Pro Team selections: Michael Evans, Tucker Durkin, Lee Zink. Zink, a two-time Warrior Defensive Player of the Year is also joined by the MLL veterans Kyle Hartzell and Jesse Bernhardt; each have recorded over 20 groundballs this season.

Player to Watch: New York’s Joe Fletcher is the youngest member of Team USA but it was no mistake when he was the lone collegiate player selected on the roster. After graduating from Loyola University this May, Fletcher has played well for the Lizards, earning Warrior Defensive Player of the Week honors in Week 4. Fletcher has collected 10 groundballs in four games played, despite the Lizards overall team struggles.

Advantage: Team USA

With seasoned players like Hartzell, Zink and Belisle, Team USA will give Team MLL attackmen a run for their money.

 

Goalie

Team MLL

Jordan Burke (Boston) 10.77 GAA, 0.543 SV%

Brett Queener (Florida) 11.54 GAA, 0.578 SV%

Player to Watch: The Launch’s Brett Queener is one of the most exciting players in the league. He is a threat to clear the ball end to end and is not afraid to come out of his net and hit opposing players. Queener is a one-man highlight tape waiting to happen.

Team USA

Jesse Schwartzman (Denver) 8.92 GAA, 0.623 SV%

John Galloway (Rochester) 11.46 GAA, 0.551 SV%

Drew Adams (New York) 11.96 GAA, 0.503 SV%

Team USA has three strong players that can man the net. John Schwartzman is a six-time All-Star and he is currently ranked first in the MLL with a .623 save percentage. The 2013 Warrior Goalie of the Year, Schwartzman is the clear favorite to start ahead of Drew Adams and John Galloway.

Player to Watch: New York’s Drew Adams has the lowest save percentage in the MLL this season at .503 percent. As well, his Goals Against Average (11.96) is the highest among the three USA goalies. It will be interesting to see if Adams earns minutes against Team MLL and if so, how he performs against the talented Team MLL shooters.

Advantage: Toss-Up

These are five of the best goalies in the world and on any given day they give their all. It will be interesting to see who steps up between the pipes.

Conclusion: Advantage Team USA

Regardless of who wins on Thursday night, fans at Harvard Stadium and watching at home will be treated to an exciting no-holds-barred game of lacrosse, with 31 Team USA players vying for 23 spots on the FIL World Championship roster and 24 Team MLL players giving them a good competitive game.

The most talented players in the MLL will battle it out this Thursday, June 26 at 7:30PM at Harvard Stadium in Boston.  Don’t miss the action as these two teams go head to head in one of the most anticipated games of the year. Team USA will be defending their title as the #1 players in the country, while Team MLL will be looking to prove everyone wrong. Whose side are you on?

Tickets are still available and  can be purchased at ticketmaster.com or by calling 617-746-9933.



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