Major League Lacrosse delivered on the promise of an all-star game to the 9,518 fans in attendance at Harvard Stadium. The game was fast moving, high scoring, and staffed with the guns of the game. Boston Cannons middie Matt Poskay was named game MVP with four goals showing that finish not flash can make you an all-star.
The story was in the rosters. The Eastern Conference All-Star lineup left little to the offensive imagination while the Western Conference lineup helped to manage expectations even before the first whistle. The challenge over time, which will also address a larger issue for the league, is how to distribute and balance talent.
The behind-the-backing was at an all-time high. The special-ness of the move that was once reserved for Canadian box lacrosse players and the jaw-dropping plays at the collegiate level has evolved to another form of passing. Whether spectator became spoiled or immune to the insane stick skills and special moves of the All-Stars, some players more than others knew how to apply the skill. John Grant, Jr. used the behind the back like a third hand which is all the more impressive for a player of his size.
The tricks were highlighted at half time when the players gave the crowd an acrobatic, humorous, and creative array of shots during the freestyle competition, which was won, not surprisingly, by Mikey Powell. The West’s Spencer Ford defeated last year’s Accuracy Champion Ryan Boyle to take the Accuracy contest with 46 points. The fastest shot contest was won by the West’s Brian Langtry at 104 mph. Shot speed was only measured if the ball was scored on goal so the fastest shot may not have been recorded. However, Langtry had solid speed on his shot. The other speeds recorded (Gill 96mph, Colsey 98 mph, Poskay 94 mph, Dixon 99 mph). Jeff Sonke shot himself out of the contest due to too much pocket whip.
The Eastern Conference came out strong (6-1) and only dropped the third quarter (1-4) in which game play got a bit sloppy. It was a low EMO-goal game where despite the goal output, the defense did the best non-unit job they could with fancy checks and a long pole goal from the East’s Brodie Merrill.
The East went 2-0 in the first. Grant came across lefty behind-the-back to Dixon who finished with an overhand high shot (1-0). Ryan Boyle dished off to Poskay in the hole for a behind-the-back shot going past keeper Matt Vallone. The West got on the board with a goal from Denver attackman Brian Mundorf who got the behind-the-back pass from teammate Brian Langtry (1-2). Stephen Berger scored the third low to high goal for the East off another behind-the-back assist from Grant. The East closed out the first with goals from Dixon (from Colsey), Poskay (Berger), and a familiar 1v1 roll dodge from Harrison.
The East took the second period 3-1. Bayhawk Matt Ward found the back of the net faking low and hitting upper left off a pass from Grant. LA Riptide’s Graham Gill found LA teammate Spencer Ford who finished wit a dip and dunk. Dixon drove in and passed back to Berger who replaced and shot from outside. Boyle wrapped up the scoring in the half off a missed shot from Poskay going stickside pipe.
The Western Conference took the third quarter 4-1. The East however was the first to score off a btb pass from Harrison to Berger who finished with a side arm topshelf. The West fired up the scoring with a transition goal. Sean Lindsay scored from Gill on the run. Benson Erwin continued the scoring for the West off a pass from Snider going with the righty overhand bouncer.
The fourth quarter was the most prolific for both attack units combining for 15 goals with some great highlights. The West got a quality goal from former Boston Cannon Kevin Leveille. Leveille shot from the hole and snagged the rebound faking out the goalie. The West scored another goal off a hospital pass from Langtry to Snider inside the hole. Snider made a catch few would attempt going blind into the hole finishing with a bouncer stickside high. The East got a diving goal from Poskay off an assist from Grant. Snider found the back of the net again for the West with yet another behind the back shot going lower left corner. Game MVP Matt Poskay hit an outside worm burner for the East. Long stick defender Brodie Merrill hit mesh with a side arm going upper left. The East went on to defeat the West 19-12.