LONG ISLAND LIZARD RELEASE:
Entering Saturday night's game, the Lizards knew they would have to play stellar defense, as the Boston Cannons, in first at 4-2, had been on a tear the prior two weeks. After dropping back to back games to the Lizards and Bayhawks, the Cannons scored 36 goals in back to back victories, placing them in a three-way tie for first. With the Nationals winning over Chesapeake 17-14 on Thursday and the Machine defeating the Outlaws 18-14 on Friday, Boston gained a half game lead for first in the MLL. For Long Island, the contest provided them the opportunity to pull within one game of the four current playoff teams. The returns of Chris Fiore, who had missed the past two games with a knee injury, and Parker McKee, gave the Lizards two much-needed additions to the active roster as Long Island looked to pull the upset and sweep the season series on Saturday Night. Despite an early run by Long Island, the Cannons would go on one of the best runs in the MLL this season, giving them the 17-14 victory and sole possession of first.
Chris Eck, who lost 17 of the 25 faceoffs for Boston in their 13-11 loss earlier in the season to Long Island, came to play on Saturday night, winning 5 of the 7 in the first quarter. The dominance in the faceoff game led to a plethora of scoring chances for the Cannons, most of which they converted on. Paul Rabil, who couldn't buy a goal in the prior meeting of these two squads, opened the contest up with a rip just inside the two-point arch. Just as quickly as Rabil scored, however, Stephen Berger knotted up the contest with a nifty individual effort. McKee found himself in the box for the first time this season, as a slash with 12:42 left in the first gave Boston the man up opportunity. However, the shot by Smalley was easily saved by Drew Adams, as Long Island's man down defense rose to the occassion. Poskay, who entered the game as one of the MLL's top scorers, put in his 24th goal on the season on the nice feed by Ryan Boyle. A sloppy possession by Long Island got the Cannons' fast break offense in motion, seven minutes into the game. However, the two-time defensive player of the year, Nicky Polanco, made a beautiful read, intercepting the pass and preventing what would have been an easy goal. However, Boston's inability to capitalize would soon dissolve, as Ryan Boyle set up Poskay for an easy goal on the powerplay, giving Boston a quick 3-1 lead just 7:57 into the contest. Trailing 4-1, Stephen Peyser burnt his defender, Rabil, getting front of goal and firing it in with 47 seconds left in the quarter. Despite the late goal, it was a bleak quarter for the Lizards, as they trailed the Cannons 4-2.
Lacrosse, commonly referred to as a game of runs, saw the Lizards go on one, as solid defense by Polanco and the crew led to various opportunities for Long Island in the second quarter. After Long Island saved possession on the shot out of bounds, Goettelmann took the ball from behind X and found the back of the net in spectacular fashion with 11:01 left in the second. Just as McKee had done twice in the game two weeks ago against Chicago, the defender set up another Danowski goal in transition, as Long Island knotted the contest up at 4. The run continued for Long Island 34 seconds later, as Danowski fed Greer in front, who easily burnt his defender, Jack Reid, and fired the left-handed shot to give Long Island the 5-4 lead. Max Quinzani was able to end the scoreless drought for Boston on a powerplay following a slash by Brian Spallina. Prior to the goal for the Duke grad, the Cannons had been shut down by the stifling Lizards' defense for over a quarter. This would not quiet the Lizards' offense, as Danowski found the cutting Greer once again for his second goal of the game with 3:31 left in the half. Boston's inability to contain Greer continued, as Goettelmann found him wide open, giving him the hat trick. As if things could not get worse for Boston's defense, who had just surrended a goal to Joe Dalgardo, Greg Gurenlion got a goal off the faceoff win, as the two goals in 5 seconds gave Long Island a 9-5 lead going into the half. Solid defense led to offense for the Lizards, as Long Island scored a season-best 7 goals in the second quarter.
Not even halftime adjustments by Boston, such as the switch to Burke in goal, could stop this magnificient Lizards' run. After Dalgardo's second goal, Greer ran and dove over the crease, firing in his fourth goal of the contest and giving Long Island a 6 point lead just 1:30 into the third. Following a Cannons' turnover, Stephen Berger set up Zack Greer's fifth goal of the day, as his career day continued. Fastbreaks continued to kill Boston, as Nicky Polanco found Moss open for his first goal of the year.
However, a freakish play by Boyle, in which he was able to get up from the ground without losing the ball, helped him score and end an 8-0 run by Long Island. The outstanding athletic display seemed to all of a sudden give Boston the momentum in the contest. Paul Rabil, pumped up from the great play by Boyle, positioned himself behind the arc and fired in the game's first two-point goal. Following a slash call on McKee, Rabil found Poskay for Boston's third powerplay goal of the game, as Boston countered Long Island's 8-0 run with a 4-0 run of their own. All of a sudden, Long Island looked disoriented, as they strung together a series of quick, ineffective possessions. Buchanan then netted the goal with 2:18 left in the quarter as Boston's run continued. Dan Cocchi committed Long Island's 9th penalty, which was quickly followed by a two point goal by Paul Rabil. The goal was the Cannons' fourth on the powerplay, as an 8 point lead was cut to one by the end of the quarter. Boston finished the quarter on a 7-0 run, thanks to 5 Lizard penalties in the quarter. A game which looked wrapped up all of a sudden was a close one.
Just as Long Island's huge run carried into the third quarter, the Cannon's follow-up run continued into the fourth quarter. Mitch Belisle got the scoring action, as the long pole scored the first goal of the fourth, tying up the game at 13. Long Island's 10th penalty of the game was given to Brian Spallina with 9:50 left in the contest. Long Island's man down defense, which had been the second-best heading into the contest, killing 74.2%, gave up Goal #5, this time to Kevin Buchanan. Matt Poskay's 4th goal increased the run to double digits as the Cannons entered the television timeout up 15-13. Greer was able to net his 6th goal of the contest with 7:23 remaining as Long Island got on the board for the first time in over 20 minutes. Moments later, however, Greer would find himself in the box, giving the Cannons another man-up opportunity. Boyle then found Poskay for yet another Cannons powerplay goal, extending the lead to 16-14. Poskay then put the game out of reach, as he wove in and out of defenders for his 6th of the game.
The game ended in a 17 to 14 final. In the end, Zack Greer's 6 goals were not enough. On a positive note, the Lizards had their best quarter of the season, outscoring Boston 7-1 in the 2nd. Boston showed their reslience as they clawed back from down 13-5 to win the game and take over first place in the league. Long Island now drops to 2-5 on the season. Despite the loss, Long Island showed flashes of greatness during the game. The Lizards hope to put together a full 60 minutes in their next contest.
The Lizards return to action July 3rd at 3:00 pm against the Chicago Machine at Hofstra University's Shuart Stadium. To purchase tickets, call 1-888-LIZARD-1, or visit longislandlizards.com
Photos by Vaughn Winchell.