August 4, 2011

It Started With Drew: Adams the Catalyst for Long Island's Playoff Push

by Mark Medina |

Third-year pro Drew Adams made a career-high 24 saves in an upset win over Boston July 16, and has made at least 16 saves in each of the last two games. "The way I look at it, I'm supposed to make the majority of the saves," Adams said.

© John Strohsacker/

The inspiration came from an unlikely source.

Long Island goalie Drew Adams found purpose in a game that meant nothing.

He relished in the lack of pressure and simply enjoyed the frivolity.

In a contest where he was partly responsible for allowing 21 goals in a one-point loss, Adams suddenly discovered how to approach the game the right way.

Yup, the 2011 All-Star game that featured Team (Sports) Authority and Team Warrior helped spur Adams' second-half surge where he's recorded 57 saves in the last three games. After a 1-3 start and at one time 2-5, the Lizards (5-5) enter Saturday's game against the Denver Outlaws (5-5) at 7 p.m. EST with a three-game winning streak, in a three-way tie with Denver and Chesapeake for third place and remain within striking distance of clinching a playoff spot, an effort coach Jim Mule said "started with Drew."

"I looked at the second half of the season as a challenge to get better personally," said Adams, who made his first career MLL All-Star appearance this season. "At the same time, I was helping the team get back in the race for the playoffs. There was no one real phase that sparked my run. It was more so putting things in perspective and wanting to go out and help the team."

Fair enough. Mule ticked off other factors beyond Drew's presence in the cage as reasons for the Lizards' post-All Star Game resurgence. The Lizards' coach noticed the team defense has become more organized and vocal. A two-pronged offense featuring midfielder Stephen Peyser (tying a MLL single-game record with three two-point goals, one assist) and attackman Matt Danowski (two goals) in the Lizards' 15-6 victory last week over the Rochester Rattlers also ate up valuable possession time. But as Mule summed up, "Drew is keeping his end of the bargain for us."

It all started when Mule challenged his team after the All-Star break, imploring everyone to make a "game-changing play." The Lizards followed suit and proved it meant more than just a sound-bite driven speech.

Long Island's 12-11 upset victory July 16 over the Boston Cannons pointed mostly to Adams, who stopped career-high 24 shots, including six in the fourth quarter, against the MLL's most potent offense.

Adams already sensed his willingness to take risks in stepping out of the cage and his mental composure pay off, two qualities he says he learned from former Lizards goalie Brian Dougherty. Separate phone calls from defenseman Nicky Polanco and attackman Tim Goettelmann praising Adams' performance only spurred his confidence. The result: Adams proved his career performance wasn't a fluke. Long Island denied the Chesapeake Bayhawks a chance to clinch the playoffs with a 15-8 victory, partly thanks to Adams making 16 saves.

By this point, Adams believes the continued momentum and renewed confidence has proven easy to feed off of, but he only has to look back at the glorified scrimmage that is the MLL All-Star game to realize what changed.

"For the first half of the year, I struggled and wasn't really fulfilling my end of the bargain," Adams said. "The way I look at it, I'm supposed to make the majority of the saves. Some are going to go. If I can stop them more than it goes in, I'm doing my part."

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