July 28, 2011

MLL Week 10: Reeling Boston, Denver Square Off For Third Time

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

Max Seibald (knee) should be close to 100 percent healthy Saturday night when Denver hosts Boston, Outlaws coach Tom Slate said. Slate also said Seibald needs to be a more vocal leader. "It's time for him to step up," he said.

©Rich Barnes

Almost four weeks ago, the Boston Cannons beat the Denver Outlaws, 15-12, in front of 27,184 fans at Invesco Field in the Outlaws annual July 4 weekend fireworks game. Boston took sole possession of first place at 6-1. Denver fell to 5-2 after the matchup of Major League Lacrosse's top two teams.

Neither team has won a game since.

It could be called parity in the six-team MLL or it could be called two teams not playing their best lacrosse. Whatever the argument, a rematch in Denver Saturday night between Boston and the Outlaws looms large for both sides.

The Cannons, at 6-3, are still in sole possession of first place, but only one game up on 5-4 Denver, which is in a three-way tie for second with the surging Hamilton Nationals and the Chesapeake Bayhawks.

Denver lost two in a row to previously winless Rochester. Boston has lost to Long Island and Hamilton. All six MLL teams are still mathematically alive for four playoff spots with three weeks left in the regular season.

The good news for Denver and Boston? One team must win this weekend. It's a fact. They play each other. The winner clinches a postseason berth.

Denver's offensive leaders have had discussions with coordinator Alex Smith early this week to address its slumping O, which has scored just eight goals in each of the last two games, and averaged 10 during its three-game losing streak. Denver coach Tom Slate said he's hoping to get attackman Brendan Mundorf and other leaders in sets that they prefer.

"We want to get the guys comfortable," Slate said.

The health of Max Seibald (left knee), as reported last week and throughout the season, has also been an issue all summer. Slate said this week Seibald should be close to 100 percent, which will change Denver's offensive dynamic. Midfielder Peet Poillon has drawn a long pole defender, and Seibald hasn't. "Max has to demand the pole back," Slate said. Seibald will also be looked at to be a more vocal leader, Slate said.

"He was a pretty vocal leader at Cornell, and with the [Philadelphia] Wings he just kind of led by example on the field," said Slate, who was an assistant with the NLL's Wings this winter. "He's been leading on the field for a while now but ... it's time for him to step up and say a couple things in the locker room or in the huddles. He can be more than just a leader by example."

As for Boston, coach Bill Daye pointed to turnovers as a reason for the Cannons' 15-12 loss to Hamilton last week. Boston had a nine-goal second quarter to lead by one at halftime, but was outscored 8-3 in the second half.

"We need to take care of the ball," Daye said. "When you turn the ball over 20-plus times it s hard to win at this level. That's the first priority, and we just need to play our game offensively and try to limit Denver's transition and touches on offense."

This is the third meeting between Denver and Boston this season. The Outlaws won, 13-12, in Week 2, but that was when a few players on both sides were missing due to commitments for the FIL World Indoor Championships in Prague.

CP7: New Jersey Number for Powell

On the news that MLL all-time leading points scorer Casey Powell will join the Hamilton Nationals beginning Aug. 6 against Boston, Nats coach Regy Thorpe said, "We got his jersey ordered."

But Powell won't be wearing the famous No. 22 he donned at Syracuse and around the MLL in previous years. Powell will wear jersey No. 7. Cody Jamieson has been wearing 22 for the Nationals. Thorpe said No. 1 was also considered for Powell, but that's Joe Walters's number.

Powell told LaxMagazine.com Tuesday morning that he didn't know what position he would play when he joins the team. On Wednesday, Thorpe basically left the possibility open for anything.

Rochester coach Tim Soudan said rookie goaltender John Galloway has improved the Rattlers' slide package and midfield defense if only because of his communication and leadership skills.

©Rich Barnes

"Him being a playmaker on attack and some opportunities I'm sure on midfield as well. He can certainly play anywhere on the field, and hopefully help our man up team," Thorpe said.

Hamilton plays at Chesapeake at 7 p.m. Saturday in Annapolis. Thorpe said there was an "outside shot" Powell would be with the team this week, but Powell made it clear he wouldn't play.

Powell has prior commitments with his youth team, Team 22, which he is flying into New York from Florida Saturday in advance of next week's Lake Placid tournament. Powell has plans to show 75 kids around Central New York, bringing them to the elementary school where he played wall ball as a kid. Hall of Famer Roy Simmons Jr. is also expected to give the players a speech.

Soudan: Galloway is the Man

Week 10 features a Thursday night tilt on Long Island between the Lizards and Rochester Rattlers. One participant to watch is Rattlers rookie goaltender John Galloway. The winningest goalie in Syracuse men's lacrosse history has appeared to have made the transition to successful MLL goalie. A feat difficult to accomplish, given the differences between the college and pro games of more shots, typically better shots, the two-point line, etc.

Galloway has averaged 16 saves in three games since Soudan took over, and the defense has allowed an average of 10 goals per game. Part of the reason for the success is the approach of coach Tim Soudan, who preached "empowering players" when he took over the then 0-6 Rattlers. They are now 2-7.

Soudan has handed Galloway the keys to the defense.

"When I got to him, I don't feel like he was in a great spot because I don't think the coaching staff before was sure," Soudan said. "We just made a downright decision that this is the guy we're going with. He's going to lead the defense. This is what he's used to. Just empower him to anchor the defense and take control. The timing of our slides has improved tremendously, and our middie defense has gotten much better just because of him talking."

And Now, Your Weekly Playoff Scenarios...

Boston (6-3): In with a win over Denver OR a Long Island loss against Rochester.

Denver (5-4): In with a win over Boston AND a Long Island loss.

Chesapeake (5-4), Hamilton (5-4) and Long Island (4-5) can neither clinch nor be eliminated this weekend, but they can all surely help their cause with a victory.

Rochester (2-7): Eliminated with a loss to Long Island.

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