The Lizards enter Saturday night’s game, after losing their 2010 season opener to the Chesapeake Bayhawks at Navy- Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. Playing their first game since their heartbreaking semifinal loss in the Major League Lacrosse semifinals last season, The Lizards came out flat and continued that trend throughout the game. Long Island was only able to muster 8 goals in the game. Meanwhile Chesapeake scorched the net with 16 goals on 31 shots.
The game started to get away from the Lizards as early as the second period. Long Island took an early 2-0 lead, thanks to goals by Zack Greer and Anthony Muscarella. But Chesapeake responded by going on a 10-2 run and finishing the first half with a 10-4 lead.
Long Island will look to respond Saturday, in the season opener at Denver. They will face the Outlaws, who are coming off a tough opening season loss of their own, to the Boston Cannons. Denver will be without head coach Brian Reese who was suspended for one game after an altercation he had with a referee. The Outlaws are lead by second year midfielder Max Seibald, who is coming off a 4 goal, 5 point performance against the Cannons. Also a threat is Drew Westervelt who tallied 27 goals last season and Brendan Mundorf, who has scored at least 30 goals in each of the past three seasons.
To win the Lizards will need a better effort in all phases of the game. They will need to create more scoring opportunities for their young Duke scoring tandem of Zach Greer and Matt Danowski. Teams target the duo, preventing them from working together the way they did in college, “It’s a little more difficult for him to get the ball,” Danowski explains. “So it probably won’t be me, who will be getting a ton of assists.” These opportunities will need to come from veteran scoring leader Stephen Berger, who led the Lizards in 2008 with 28 goals and 8 assists.
The Lizards will also need to clampdown on defense. The Bayhawks got relentless pressure throughout the game. The Lizards are playing with second year goalie Drew Adams, who will be making just his second career MLL start. Adams was solid in week 1, making 18 saves against the Bayhawks. The Lizards will need a high energy performance from veteran defenders Nicky Polanco and Brian Spallina, to keep the Outlaws from getting off high percentage shots in the slot or near the crease.
To win the Lizards will also need to keep their composure. Last week they got three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties which played a significant role in their first half collapse to the Bayhawks. “You just can’t do it,” saysDanowski. “They were stupid penalties. There was no need for them.” The Lizards were punished with 10 penalties for 26 total minutes in the game.
The Lizards and the Outlaws have a history of bad blood dating back to last year, which led to a series of fights and altercations. Denver is a physical team, who will be playing without their coach in front of their home crowd. Expect them to try and get under the Lizards players’ skin early. Long Island will need to control their temper and not fall in the trap, of undisciplined lacrosse.
Game time will be at 9 pm Saturday at INVESCO Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver. The game can be seen on the Universal Sports channel and ESPN 3. Check your local listings.