Tom Coyne, Correspondent Dallas Rattlers
Lacrosse is Awesome©
Featured Image Photo Credit: Pretty Instant
Week 12 of the MLL 2019 season proved to be an epic one for the once last place team in the league. The Dallas Rattlers (6-7) who were winless and in the basement at 0-7 up until July 20, have now won six games in a row, putting themselves into playoff contention. They were on the road for a double-header this past weekend which had them squaring off against the league’s top two teams who we’re tied for first place. First up were the Boston Cannons (7-5) on Saturday August 24; and then on Sunday August 25, they had to face the Chesapeake Bayhawks (8-5). Dallas would sweep their weekend on the road defeating Boston 13-10; and then outlasting Chesapeake 14-13.
On Saturday they played at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Quincy MA. In front of 4,251 lacrosse fans, the Cannons would start off with a quick strike from Kyle Jackson (1G, 1A, 2GB) at the :54 second mark; followed by Kyle Denhoff (2G, 1-2 PTG) at 5:28, giving Boston the early lead, 2-0. Dallas would finally break the ice at the 6:32 mark with a goal by Ryan McNamara (2G, 2GB) which was a harbinger of things to come as the Rattlers would score nine unanswered goals. Bradley Voigt (3G) would score the tying goal at the 9:31 mark off of an assist from Cody Radziewicz (3A, 1GB). With 4:17 left in the opening frame Bryce Wasserman (1G, 1A, 3GB) would put Dallas up 3-2 and in the lead. The first quarter would end with Dallas with the lead 6-2. They would score their ninth consecutive goal making it a 9-2 off of a transition play with Carthage High School alum, Mike Lazore (1G) scoring unassisted with 8:50 left in the first half, Lazore’s first goal of the season. Oddly enough, he and Donny Moss are the only two Rattlers remaining from their 2015 MLL Championship runner-up team when they were still in Rochester.
Boston would finally get on the board again with 8:12 left in the first half as Connor O’Hara (2G, 2GB) took a point-blank shot on Rattlers Goalie Sean Sconone (25 SOG, 16SV, 10GA) who stuffed his attempt only to have it rebound off his stick right back in to O’Hara’s who calmly took the ball and shot it behind his back making the score 9-3. The half would end with Dallas up 10-5.
In the second half of the contest Boston would outscore Dallas 5-3, but it was too little too late as the Rattlers would win their fifth straight game. The win would take Boston out of first place when coupled later that day with the Chesapeake Bayhawks (8-4) 16-13 victory over the Atlanta Blaze (7-6) at Atlanta Silverback Park in Atlanta, GA.
The stats on this game were almost even in every category except the goalies with the Rattler’s Sean Sconone (25 SOG, 16SV, 10GA) holding a slight edge over Boston’s Nick Marrocco (25 SOG, 12SV, 13GA); Dallas FOGO Noah Rak (13-26, 10GB) picked up 10 “loosies” compared to Boston’s Kevin Reisman (13-26FO, 9GB) snagging nine ground balls, giving Rak the slight edge over Reisman. The Cannons had only 22 turn overs compared to the Rattler’s 24. As I noted, the stats we’re pretty even and it was the Rattler’s determination that won this game and some excellent coaching from Bill Warder and his staff.
Onto Sunday August 25 and ironically the Rattlers would play against the now league leading Bayhawks at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, MD with 6,814 fans in attendance, all hoping their Bayhawks would win, thereby clinching a playoff berth.
Both teams had to travel from out of town and both played in fiercely contested battles prior to their trips. The key differences, the Rattler’s game ended earlier giving them more time to recuperate and Dallas had to win to keep their playoff aspirations alive, whereas the Bayhawks eighth win the night before had given them the inside track to making it to the playoffs. Not that Chesapeake didn’t want to get the “clinch” in the bag…no doubt they did, but just like Boston, they were defeated by Dallas, the league’s hottest team, who seemed just a little more determined.
They battled it out like two heavyweight contenders, but it was too no avail as the resilient Rattlers refused to lose. At the end of the battle, after the dust had settled, the team from Dallas had won the contest by the ‘narrowest’ of margins, by the score of 14-13.
Both teams got off to a slow start offensively, with Dallas scoring first at the 5:48 mark on a goal from Jack Curran (3G) off an assist from Bryce Wasserman (2G, 1A) to go up 1-0. Like two heavyweights, they traded punches with the Bayhawks scoring next with their only goal of the first quarter; followed with a Wasserman goal of his own getting a nice pass from Curran and finishing on the crease with a couple of stick-fakes to make it 2-1 and Dallas ahead with just under two minutes left in the first quarter which would end 3-1 in favor of Dallas.
The Bayhawks were not going down without a fight. In the second frame of the game, Chesapeake would outscore Dallas 5-2, led by their fearless and talented leader, Lyle Thompson (2G) who would score at the 1:47 mark on an underhand low to high laser shot from 12 yards out, closing the gap making it a score of 3-2; and then later in the second frame with the score tied at 4-4 and just 3:10 left in the first half, Thompson worked his way behind the cage from “X” out to about five yards from the top of the crease, and with his back to his D-pole and the Rattler’s net-minder, he fired a BTB shot into the top right corner of the goal, giving the B’hawks a 5-4 lead going into halftime.
Unfortunately for the Bayhawks and their fans, they would be outscored by Dallas in the second half 9-7 and lose the battle and their chance to clinch by the score of 14-13. A key reason they were outscored was because Dallas out-played them, in particular, Minnesota native Ryan McNamara (1G, 2-2PT, 2A) would tie the score up twice in the second half of the contest. The first time when the Rattlers were down 8-6 in the third quarter at the 7:46 mark with a cannon blast from beyond the 2 point arc; and then in the fourth frame when Dallas was down 11-10 on a power-play with only 6:54 left on the game clock, McNamara while cutting from goal line extended up to the center of the field would get a perfect pass/assist from Lucas Wittenberg (2G, 1A) to tie it up at 11-11.
McNamara’s heroics weren’t over yet, on the ensuing possession with 6:17 on the game clock, McNamara would fire up his cannon again from the top of the arc beating the shell-shocked Bayhawks goal-keeper once more to put the Rattlers up 13-11 with his second two-pointer of the game. It was then that the Bayhawks removed their starting goal keeper Niko Amato in favor of Brian Phipps who was the game-winning goalie for them against Atlanta the night before. It was too no avail as Dallas would get their winning goal with just 2:21 left in this epic struggle. Wittenberg who would score unassisted after beating the Bayhawks SSDM who was pushing way out on defense with Chesapeake needing a turn over and a possession, would beat his defender on a right to left split-dodge, switched it back to his right hand and fired a hard bouncer past the new net-minder to give Dallas it’s 14th and final goal making it 14-11. Chesapeake would score twice more but it was not enough to get the win and clinch a playoff berth.
The biggest edge as far as stats were concerned was at FOGO where the Rattler’s Noah Rak (18-28 FO, 11GB) continues to give Dallas more possessions. The Bayhawks Kenny Massa (10-28 FO, 4GB) may have been a little more fatigued after the late night flight and the fact that he did have seven more face offs the day before than did Rak. Dallas had 24 ground balls compared to 19 for Chesapeake; Chesapeake had two more shots on goal 23-21; ironically Dallas had 17 turn overs compared to only nine for the B’hawks. In between the pipes for the B’hawks, starting goal keeper Niko Amato (19 SOG, 8 SV, 13GA) and backup GK Brian Phipps (2 SOG, 1 SV, 1GA) couldn’t quite matchup with the Rattler’s Sean Sconone (23 SOG, 11 SV, 13GA). Sconone faced two more SOG made four more saves and allowed one less goal, advantage Dallas.
Also of note was Ryan McNamara with seven points in the contest which I believe is a career high (according to MLL Stats he had 1G, 2-2ptG, 2A, although the Rattler’s FB page only mentions 5 points). If you go back to August 10 the game at the Ford Center, in Frisco, TX against the Lizards, he has amassed 17 points (9G, 2-2PTG, 4A) over the last four games. Jack Curran had another hat trick and his third consecutive hat trick game including his five goal game on August 17 against the Outlaws giving him 12 points (11G, 1A) in his last three games. Of course they have their other teammates which help make it possible including Wasserman; Voigt; Wittenberg; Osika; Radziewicz; etc., etc.; along with a stellar defensive unit and SSDM’s; a new FOGO; their league-leading (56.59%) Rookie Goal-keeper; and perhaps the best coaching staff/organization in the league.
The Rattlers (6-7) play on August 31 and will host the New York Lizards (3-9) at the Ford Center in Frisco, TX, game time 8:00 p.m. EST. The game can be seen on www.laxsportsnetwork.com
As for the Rattlers they know they need to win every time they strap their orange Cascade helmets on for the remainder of this season. I expect them to do just that, and so does the rest of their loyal fan-base, from Rochester to Dallas. The Lizards have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, so this will be a contest based solely on pride for them.
Boston (7-5) plays away on August 31 against the Denver Outlaws (7-5) at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium in Denver, CO, game time 5:00 p.m. EST. The game can be seen on www.majorleaguelacrosse.com
Chesapeake (8-5) has a bye-week and will play next against the Boston Cannons (7-5) on September 7 at Memorial Stadium, in Quincy, MA, game time 5:00 p.m. EST. The game can be seen on www.laxsportsnetwork.com
Keep on LAXIN’!
Tom Coyne, Correspondent Dallas Rattlers
Lacrosse is Awesome©