6/9/10 2:29 PM
Long Island Lizards Week 4 Preview
By Derek McLean
The Long Island Lizards will make the drive upstate Saturday, as they face the Chicago Machine in Albany, NY. Long Island will look to get themselves back in contention for a spot in the playoffs. Last week they fell to 1-3, after losing to the Denver Outlaws for the second time this season. Long Island was held to just 4 goals through 3 quarters, losing 15-10. The Outlaws were led by attacks Brandon Mundorf and Matt Brown, who combined for 9 goals and 13 points.
The Machine are 3-1 on the season, tied for first place in the league. They are coming off a 14-13 victory over the Toronto Nationals. The Machine is led offensively by UMass alum, Kevin Leveille, who has scored a team-high 9 goals and added 5 assists on the season. Midfielders Bill McGlone and Brett Garber have been solid contributors offensively as well. McGlone has 8 goals on the season, while Garber has scored 7. Kevin Leveille is joined on attack by his brother Mike who has tallied 6 goals on the year.
This game will also mark the debut of Ned Crotty, the first overall pick 2010 MLL Draft from Duke. The Machine are hoping Crotty will become an immediate threat for the already dangerous offense. The Machine collectively has scored 59 goals on the year, which is the second highest total in the league.
The Lizards defense will have their hands full this week, against the persistent Chicago attack. While the unit has been inconsistent this season, the Lizards defense has had moments of dominance. Two weeks ago, the Lizards held the Boston Cannons to just 4 goals through 3 quarters, leaving last year’s Major League Lacrosse MVP Paul Rabil, pointless throughout the game. Long Island has allowed the second fewest goals against in the league, on the season. Teams have scored just 48 times on them through four games.
The Lizards defense is led by veterans Brian Spallina and Nicky Polanco. “We’ve had success in the past with Spallina and Nicky,” says Lizards General Manager Casey Hilpert. “Covering the Leveille brothers last year in Chicago, we had success with that.” The two will need to give a solid effort, to keep the highly skilled Machine offense from taking control of the game. “They have great players on and off the ball,” Hilpert says. “So we need to make sure were aggressive and smart on them.” Often this year, Long Island has gone through long stretches, where opposing teams have controlled possession and applied constant pressure.
Throughout those stretches, the Lizards allow a constant barrage of shots, and cannot, so much as clear the ball. Since losing long stick midfielder Ricky Pages to an injury in the first game of the season, Long Island has not had much consistency on clearing the ball and scooping up ground balls. The Lizards addressed that need by selecting LSM Parker McKee from Duke on Sunday, in the first round of the Major League Lacrosse Draft. McKee says, “Whether it’s physical, if its groundballs, going up and down the field, covering their best player, I’m excited for the challenge and ready for the opportunity.” The Lizards are confident McKee will be able to fill Pages role right away. “Not only is he a very good player, but he’s a very smart player,” says Hilpert. “We feel he’s going to be able to come in and pick it up really quick.” The Lizards will need immediate production from McKee, to give themselves a chance to get the ball going on offense.
The Lizards are playing with first year starting goalie Drew Adams in net. Despite having a solid year, so far in goal, he has struggled at times. The adjustment from college to the pros is difficult. “You have to be ready for everything,” says Adams. “The shot selection and the type of shots that you see are a lot different than what I saw in college.” The Lizards will need to play lock down defense on Kevin Leveille, so he does not have the opportunity to take high percentage shots. Long Island cannot rely on Adams to bail them out against an offense as good as Chicago’s.
Long Island was held to just 10 points on Saturday, they have been held to 13 points or less in every game this season. Long Island has by far the least productive offense in the league this year, scoring only 53 points collectively. That is 15 points less than the second worst offense, the Toronto Nationals, who have 68 points on the year.”The first few games we really didn’t do the things that we preached about during training camp,” says Lizards veteran midfielder Stephen Berger. “I think we need to get back and start playing like what got us here in the league, in the first place.” No player on the Lizards has scored more than 6 goals on the year. But on the plus side, 10 different players have scored for the Lizards on the year with 8 players have scored at least 3 goals on the season.
Long Island will need to use their spread offense to their advantage, if they want to have success against a decent Chicago defense which has allowed 12.50 goals per game, on average, so far this year. “We have guys on our offense that we can’t rely on to make things happen for themselves,” says Berger. “So we need to create things for them.” The Machine will not be able to target any particular player, because there really is not any one player who scores. Shots come from all areas on the Long Island offense. With some good ball movement and some good minutes on attack, they may have a chance to put up some offense.
The action starts at 7pm on Saturday June 12th, at John Fallon Field in Albany, NY. You can catch the game live on ESPN 3. Follow the game on our live blog on Majorleaguelacrosse.com.
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|06/12/2010||Live Blog: Lizards vs Machine|
|06/11/2010||Chicago Machine Week 5 Preview|
|06/06/2010||Chicago selects Duke attackman Ned Crotty with the first overall pick|