June 11, 2014

MLL Weekly: All-Star Game Buzz, Records Falling and Shared

by Phil Shore | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

Boston Cannons second-year attackman Will Manny, who has the fourth most points in MLL this season, wasn't among the 24 players named to the MLL All-Star team on Tuesday. (Bill Danielewski)

On Tuesday Major League Lacrosse announced the 24 players selected to the MLL All-Star team.

At first look, the team — like every group that participates in all-star games in other sports leagues — had some notable snubs and omissions. There were also some surprise inclusions, like Joe Walters, who made his season debut last week with the Chesapeake Bayhawks and had zero goals and two assists.

Bayhawks coach Dave Cottle, who will coach the MLL All-Star side when it plays Team USA June 26 at Harvard Stadium, said Wednesday there is more that went into picking the team than just the guys with the best stats, however.

"It's not the All-Star team. It's Team MLL. Thirty-one of the All-Stars are playing for the U.S. National Team," he said. "We picked a team that could give them the best game possible. We contacted [Charlotte Hounds and likely Canada faceoff specialist] Geoff Snider, who has played in no games this year. We're looking for the best players to play against them."

Two legendary figures that are also having great seasons (and aren't on Team USA) — Casey Powell and John Grant Jr., who will play for Team Canada next month in the FIL World Championship — are not on the roster, either.

"We wanted John Grant Jr., but he declined. We wanted Casey Powell but he declined," Cottle said.

One player who was not selected was Boston Cannons attackman Will Manny. The second-year player is fourth in the league in points (20) and is coming off a game where he scored four goals and added three assists in a 17-16 Cannons victory over the Ohio Machine.

Cannons head coach John Tucker said he was surprised by the omission.

"He's quick. He shoots the ball really well ... I was a little disappointed for him he didn't get the nod for the All-Star team being the fourth leading scorer in the league," Tucker said. "Those guys have a difficult job. I don't know the circumstances. They have to select the best team for Team MLL against Team USA. I felt he could've been one of those guys. I'm sure he was in the conversation."

There are plenty of deserving players on the roster, especially guys that don't normally get the notoriety they deserve. Ten players will make their first All-Star game appearance.

Team MLL assistant coach Joe Spallina has a number of stars on the Team USA roster — including Greg Gurenlian, who was re-added to the USA roster Tuesday after initially withdrawing from the tryout process because of a shoulder injury — but will have two defensive midfielders playing on Team MLL: Steve DeNapoli and Kevin Unterstein.

"Those two guys we felt were going to add a lot of grit and help us communication-wise and team-defense wise," Spallina said.

Another first-timer is Rochester Rattlers faceoff specialist John Ortolani.

In his second season as a full-time starter, Ortolani has won 50 percent of his faceoffs this year and has won 64 percent of his faceoffs in the past two games.

"I think Orto had a great situation in Boston being behind [starter Chris] Eck and learned a lot from him. He's a huge student of the game," said Rattlers head coach Tim Soudan. "Orto is being a little more consistent where he pulls it and is better with communication. It's been a breath of fresh air for us."

Other Team MLL notables include the past two No. 1 overall collegiate draft picks Peter Baum and Tom Schreiber of the Ohio Machine, Boston goalie Jordan Burke and long-stick midfielder Brodie Merrill, Denver attackman Eric Law, and Charlotte attackman Matt Danowski.

Kevin Leveille breaks career goals record

The Rattlers defeated the Chesapeake Bayhawks 8-7 in double overtime in a game both coaches said was sloppy and that both goalies were the best players on their team. Still, one field player made a difference and that was Rattlers attack Kevin Leveille.

Leveille scored three goals, including the game-winner. The third goal, which came on a Rattlers man-up man-up situation, made Leveille the league's all-time leading goal scorer with 271. The former leader was former league great Tim Goettelman. He also tied Goettelman for the lead in all-time game-winning goals.

Leveille was understated when asked about the record.

"Really it's the 'W' first. That was a really important game for us," he said in a post-game interview with CBS Sports Network. "I feel pretty good about surpassing Tim Goettelman's record. But now I don't have to worry about it or think about it for the rest of the season, which is nice. But hopefully, I know John Grant Jr. is out there. He can catch up to me in a game or so. So I'm not too worried about the record."

Powell, Boyle swap points record

Last season, Ryan Boyle passed a largely inactive Casey Powell for the MLL lead in most career points. This season, both have played in all their team's games and Powell is playing at an MVP-caliber level. He took back the career points record May 17.

In Boston's 17-16 victory over Ohio, however, Boyle had two goals (including the game-winner) and one assist to vault over Powell.

"We don't expect him to get a ton of points, that's not a burden we place on him at this point in his career," Boston head coach John Tucker said. "Last week he got two very important games. He can hurt teams. He still has that in his bucket."

The lead didn't last very long. The Florida Launch played the next night and Powell was once again the leader thanks to two goals and two assists.

"Casey Powell was their maestro," said New York Lizards head coach Joe Spallina, whose team Powell retook the record against. "He was distributing and playing great team lacrosse."

Powell leads the league in points and Boyle has eight points in his last three games. This record could change hands a few more times this season and will be something fun to keep track of.

Hounds end another Outlaws streak

The Charlotte Hounds may only be 2-4 this season and tied for sixth in the league's standings, but they seem to have the Denver Outlaws' number.

Last year, the Hounds beat the Outlaws in the semifinals of the MLL playoffs, ending their perfect season. This year the Outlaws were 5-0, had a 25-game regular season unbeaten streak, and had beaten the Hounds the week before. Charlotte, behind five points from midfielder John Haus, topped Denver 18-15 and stopped another streak. They are the only team to beat the Outlaws since 2012, and they have done so twice now.

"Charlotte took advantage of some of our miscues," Denver head coach B.J. O'Hara said. "They shot the ball well. They were the better team that night."

Denver was without key players John Grant Jr. and Jesse Schwartzman. That does not take away from the effort Charlotte put forth to win the game.

"A lot of our scoring came from defensive midfielders. [Josh Hawkins] had two. We're not afraid to use the defensive midfielders in transition," Hounds head coach Mike Cerino said. "Our wing play improved [on the faceoffs]. We did a better job on [Denver LSM Matt] Bocklet."

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