July 23, 2012

MLL Week 11: Milestones Reached, 'Hawks Clinch, Cannons Continue Slide

by Phil Shore | LaxMagazine.com

Rochester Rattlers midfielder Matt Striebel set the MLL record for games played (133) in the Rattlers' 14-5 win over the Charlotte Hounds over the weekend.
© Greg Wall

Thanks to his strong durability and talent, Matt Striebel is breaking multiple records this season and his latest might be his best.

In the Rochester Rattlers' 14-5 victory over the Charlotte Hounds, Striebel broke the MLL's all-time games played record, reaching 133 games. The previous leader was longtime Long Island Lizards attackman Tim Goettelmann, who retired before this season.

Striebel didn't just play in the game however; he was the team's biggest contributor as well. He tied for the team-lead in points with four (two goals and two assists).

He is the only player left to have played in the league's inaugural season in 2001. Earlier this season he set the record for most All-Star games played, with eight.

"Matt Striebel is a great leader and brings a certain level of confidence to the younger guys," Rattlers head coach Tim Soudan said on the weekly MLL coaches' conference call.

Roy Lang was the other player with four points for the Rattlers, also with two goals and two assists. The offense had a well-rounded performance as six players scored two goals.

The defense also held strong, holding the Hounds (3-8) to only two goals in the entire second half and shutting them out in the fourth quarter. Goalie John Galloway had another good night between the pipes, allowing only five goals and making 14 saves.

Stephen Berger led the Hounds with one goal and two assists.

The win ties the Rattlers (6-5) with the Boston Cannons for fourth in the league standings, vying for the league's fourth and final playoff spot.

"We want to make the playoffs. You make the playoffs and anything can happen," Striebel said after the team's win in Long Island two weeks ago. "That's our goal. It's been our goal since the start of the season, since we got this group together and we're on our way."

Bayhawks first to clinch playoff berth

The Chesapeake Bayhawks (9-2) have been the class of the 2012 MLL season. With an 11-7 victory over the Ohio Machine (2-9) they have become the first team to clinch a playoff berth.

The score was tied at four at halftime but Chesapeake used a 4-0 third quarter to pull away from the Machine.

"Clinching this early releases some pressure and allows us to spend time working on ourselves down the stretch," Chesapeake head coach Dave Cottle told the team's website after the game. "We couldn't have played more poorly on offense in the first half, but the defense kept us in the game. We got a great defensive effort and great goaltending tonight."

The Bayhawks defense has allowed the fewest goals in the league (107). Brian Spallina, Nicky Polanco and Michael Evans held star attackmen Chazz Woodson and Steele Stanwick without a goal and the defensive unit as a whole held the Machine scoreless for a stretch of 26.5 minutes in the second half.

Kip Turner continued his strong season, allowing only six goals and making 16 saves, his second highest single-game total this season.

Bayhawks midfielder Kyle Dixon set the record for two-point goals in a season (12), scoring that one goal and adding two assists.

Matt Poskay scores 200th career goal, Cannons lose

Despite midfielder Matt Poskay hitting a milestone in his career, the Boston Cannons lost to the Denver Outlaws, 17-13.

The Outlaws (8-3) won their third consecutive game and appear to be hitting their stride as the playoffs approach while the defending champion Cannons lost their second in a row and fifth out of the past seven games, dropping into a tie for the final playoff spot with Rochester.

The Cannons (6-5) took a 3-2 lead 33 seconds into the second quarter, but the Outlaws used a Brendan Mundorf goal and two goals from Jeremy Sieverts—a man-up goal and a two-pointer—to take the lead for good.

Mundorf, second in MLL in points (45), led the high scoring attack with three goals and four assists. Jordan McBride and Drew Snider also had hat tricks for the Outlaws.

Goalie Jesse Schwartzman was named player of the game after a 17-save performance.

Poskay scored two goals and added an assist. Goal No. 200 came late in the second quarter as he cut across the crease and finished off a cross-field feed from Paul Rabil.

Ari Sussman led the Cannons in goals with three, while also adding an assist, and Ryan Boyle had two goals and two assists.

Performance of the Week

Tommy Palasek, A, Long Island Lizards

The rookie from Syracuse got it done for the Long Island Lizards (7-4), scoring a career-high six goals while also adding an assist in the team's 17-12 win over the Hamilton Nationals (3-8). Palasek earned player of the game honors and has scored in every game he's played in this season for a total of 19 on the year.

Surprise of the Week

Charlotte Hounds offense

With Matt Danowski and Stephen Berger, the Hounds have two players in the top 10 in the league in points. Jeremy Boltus—though he missed Friday's game—Jovan Miller and Billy Bitter are all explosive offensive players. That being said, the team set a franchise-low with only five goals scored against the Bayhawks and were shut out in the fourth quarter. They are now last in the league in goals scored (114). Offense was supposed to be the team's strength but have now scored in single digits in four of the team's past six games.

What to Watch For

The Boston Cannons are fighting for their playoff lives and it couldn't be worse timing for them to take on the league-leading Chesapeake Bayhawks.

Boston started the season 4-0 but continue to slide down the league standings. Against teams that have not been eliminated from the playoffs, Boston is just 2-5.

Starting in the offseason with the strong player acquisitions the Bayhawks made it was clear the team was looking to gun the Cannons down. In the first meeting between the teams this season the Bayhawks won a tight 14-13 contest.

With the Cannons at home this time and desperate, and with the Bayhawks already wrapping up a playoff berth, will Chesapeake involuntarily ease up, allowing the Cannons to get a much needed win?

Or will Boston succumb to the pressure and make its chance at defending their title in Championship Weekend even murkier?

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