July 16, 2012

Beast Mode: Gurenlian Gets Lizards Back on Track

by Phil Shore | LaxMagazine.com

Long Island's Greg Gurenlian, the MLL's leading faceoff man, won 19 of 28 faceoffs against Boston's Chris Eck, the player chosen ahead of him for the All-Star Game. The Lizards won 14-11 to move into a tie with the Cannons for third place.

© Lee Weissman

All season the top two faceoff guys in Major League Lacrosse have been Long Island's Greg Gurenlian and Boston's Chris Eck. Gurenlian leads the league in faceoff wins (170) and is first in winning percentage (61.3 percent) among players that have taken more than 10 faceoffs. But with both eligible to play for the Old School All-Star team and only spot, Eck was the selection.

Gurenlian, however, was the star of Saturday's show.

While Eck did score a goal, Gurenlian won 19 of 28 faceoffs— 67.9 percent — scooped 10 ground balls and scored his third goal of the season to help the Lizards (6-4) snap a two-game losing streak, complete the season sweep of the Cannons (6-4) and move into a tie for third place in the MLL standings with a 14-11 victory.

"Greg works hard at his craft and he takes a lot of pride in what he does. We have a lot of respect for how he plays," Cannons coach Steve Duffy said.

Long Island was down by two going into halftime, but scored five of the first six goals coming out of the break, culminating in a Max Seibald 2-point goal to give the Lizards a 10-7 lead they would not relinquish.

Gurenlian's goal came 12 seconds into the fourth quarter. "The Beast" won the faceoff, was hit by a Cannons player and pushed to the ground, rolled back to his feet and streaked down the center of the field uncontested before putting the ball in the back of the net.

"Playing in the league, you're facing off against the best guys in the world," Gurenlian said. "It's going to basically come down to who's hotter that day."

Stephen Peyser had three goals and an assist for the Lizards, giving him six goals in his past two games. Longpole C.J. Costabile scored his first MLL goal and fellow rookie Tommy Palasek added two goals and an assist.

Matt Poskay led the Cannons with five goals, the most by any player this weekend.

Dixon drops another deuce

The Chesapeake Bayhawks are in first place in the MLL standings, separated not only by their 8-2 record, but also their ability to make the 2-point shot.

Chesapeake scored just one 2-pointer Saturday, but it was a big one, as the Bayhawks defeated the Rochester Rattlers 13-7. Rochester fell to 5-5.

The lone 2-pointer came from midfielder Kyle Dixon. It was the only goal of the game for Dixon, who scored in the fourth quarter less than two minutes after Roy Lang brought Rochester within three.

The goal was Dixon's 11th two-pointer of the season, tying his own single-season MLL record.

The Bayhawks have scored 21 two-point goals this season, most in the league and 10 more than Charlotte and Ohio, who are tied for second with 11 apiece. And while Dixon is the main sniper, the Chesapeake entire roster has potential to score from long range.

"Everybody on their team, other than Glading, can shoot 2-pointers very effectively," Charlotte Hounds midfielder Jovan Miller said.

Danny Glading had two goals and two assists for Chesapeake. while Michael Kimmel added a goal and four assists.

Rochester's Kevin Leveille led all scorers with three goals in his return from injured reserve.

Hamilton and Ohio split back-to-backs

In the second straight weekend featuring a back-to-back, home-and-home series, the Hamilton Nationals (3-7) and Ohio Machine (2-8) battled to stay out of the cellar. Both teams won the road legs of the series, with the Machine winning in Hamilton Friday night 13-12 and the Nationals winning in Ohio Saturday 14-12.

"We're excited," Hamilton coach Regy Thorpe had said earlier in the week. "Ohio's a desperate team like we're a desperate team so we can expect some exciting games."

In Friday's game Ohio entered led by one at halftime. Eric O'Brien scored the first of his two goals to put the Machine ahead 9-7 in the final minute of the second quarter before Kevin Crowley responded 30 seconds later to make it 9-8.

Steele Stanwick's second goal in the fourth quarter proved to be the game-winner.

On Saturday, Hamilton outscored Ohio 4-2 in the third quarter to pull away.

Hamilton's Matt Dolente won 39 of 56 faceoffs over both games, Brodie Merril picked up 19 ground balls and Garret Billings tallied six goals and three assists.

Performance of the Weekend

Mark Matthews, A, Denver

The Outlaws rookie tallied a career-high seven points in their 21-7 win over the Charlotte Hounds. Matthews scored a game-high four goals and added three assists. He was instrumental in the team's fast start, scoring the first goal of the game and netting two more before the end of the first quarter.

Surprise of the Week

Paul Rabil, M, Boston

Rabil was active for the Cannons and did have two assists, but he was held without a goal for the first time in more than two years in a 14-11 loss to the Long Island Lizards. The last time Rabil failed to score a goal in a game was June 4, 2010 in a 15-13 loss to Chesapeake. The time before that? One week earlier — May 27, 2010 — in another loss at Long Island.

What to Watch For

In what is sure to be a high-scoring affair, two of the best teams in the MLL will square off Thursday night when the Cannons will host the Outlaws.

Denver and Boston are first and second in the league in goals scored -- 151 and 145, respectively. Both have multiple offensive weapons to from which to choose. Paul Rabil and Brendan Mundorf rank first and second, respectively, among MLL scorers.

The Outlaws have won two straight, while the Cannons have lost two of their last three. Boston will look to turn things around and pull even once again with Denver. The Cannons won 17-10 when the teams met in May.

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