By Natalie Johnson | 7/2/14 4:30 PM
Florida Launch at New York Lizards
Thursday, July 3 — 7:30 PM ET — Shuart Stadium
Syndicated: MSG+, Altitude, Prime Ticket, SportSouth, SportsTime Ohio, TWC Wisconsin
The New York Lizards (5-4) will be trying to remain undefeated at home, while the Florida Launch (4-5) look to end their three-game losing streak and stay in the playoff hunt.
Last Time Out
Florida: The Launch’s season hit a low point last week when they fell to the last-place Chesapeake Bayhawks 18-11. They managed just four goals in the first half, then allowed the Bayhawks to score seven goals in the third quarter, effectively putting the game out of reach. Florida couldn’t stop Joe Walters, letting him reach a season-high eight points. Kieran McArdle (3 G, 1 A) and Casey Powell (2 G, 2 A) led the Launch with four points each in the loss. Brett Queener, who had nine saves while allowing 13 goals, was pulled in the third quarter in favor of Adam Fullerton, who recorded two saves and allowed four goals.
New York: The Lizards pulled out an impressive 19-13 victory over Ohio last week. The game was tied with just over ten minutes remaining, but New York scored the final five goals, including a 2-pointer from Kyle Hartzell, to put the game away and get their fifth win of the season. The Lizards’ defense and goalie Drew Adams, who had 16 saves, were able to hold the Machine to their lowest goal output in six weeks. JoJo Marasco scored a career-high five goals, while Hartzell and Tommy Palasek each had four points.
Above the Fray: While there’s currently a three-way tie for fourth place in league standings, New York sits just one game above those teams in third place. They’d like to stay out of that mess and make it into the playoffs without depending on tiebreakers, and a win this week would certainly help with that. A loss, though, would put them at .500 and send them right back into the pack.
Opening Statement: In this game, the first quarter could tell the story for Florida, as the Launch are 0-4 when trailing after the first fifteen minutes. On the other hand, when leading or tied after the first quarter, they’re 4-1. The advantages of starting out strong are obvious, since no team likes to play catch up, but the Launch should be particularly interested in their initial moments of play.
Scoring Support: While each team has one offensive star in Rob Pannell and Casey Powell, both New York and Florida have an equally impressive supporting cast of scorers who have proven that they’re capable of breaking out for a big game at any time. For the Lizards, last week it was Marasco, while Ned Crotty, Hartzell, and Palasek have all had 4+ point games this season. Meanwhile, the Launch have standout rookie Kieran McArdle, as well as four other players with at least 14 points on the year.
Players to Watch
Florida: Stephen Keogh made his first appearance with the Launch just three weeks ago, but he came out firing, recording three goals and an assist in his first game. Since then, he scored two goals in Week 8 and three goals in Week 9. Keogh has been a bright spot in the Launch’s three-game losing streak, and he could be a key factor in ending that slide.
New York: Tommy Palasek continues to be an important asset for the Lizards’ attack. His 13 goals this season are third-best for the team, and he leads the team with a .433 shooting percentage (among players who have taken at least five shots). Palasek has had two 4-point games this season, including last week, so he’ll come into this game with the dangerous combination of talent and confidence.
Florida: Powell remains the team’s offensive leader, as he is first on the team in points (41) and assists (22). Powell and McArdle are tied for the team lead in goals, as each has 19. Chris Mattes leads the team in face offs, going 118-for-239 on the season, as well as groundballs, with 56.
New York: Pannell leads the Lizards with 35 points, 23 goals, and 12 assists, while Max Seibald leads the team with two 2-point goals. Greg Gurenlian has taken a majority of the team’s face offs, going 140-for-233 at the X. Gurenlian also has 66 ground balls, the most of any New York player this season.
2014 Season Series:
The last time these teams met, in Week 6, was also the last victory for the Launch. Florida jumped out to an early three-goal lead in the first quarter and never surrendered, remaining in control for the entirety of the game, and ultimately achieving an 11-8 win.
New York and Florida have each given up a league-high five 2-point goals.
The Lizards are one of three teams still undefeated at home.
Despite having the fewest shots on goal in the league (218), Florida remains the only team to have scored at least ten points in every game.