Game Preview: Lizards @ Cannons

By Chris Mahoney |  6/7/12 2:41 PM

Game Preview: Lizards @ Cannons

Saturday, June 9 7 p.m.  ET | Harvard Stadium | Boston, MA

Watch & Follow: National TV: CBS Sports Network, Live Blog

The Big Picture: The Boston Cannons will host the Long Island Lizards at Harvard Stadium on Saturday, June 9th at 7 p.m. ET. This is the first meeting between the two teams this season. The Cannons are 4-1 and tied for first place in the MLL standings with Chesapeake. The Lizards are an even 2-2 and tied for fourth place, just on the edge of playoff position. Boston has been excellent at home this season: the Cannons are 3-0 with a plus-29 goal differential at Harvard Stadium. The Lizards are 1-1 on the road.

Boston took the season series against Long Island 2-1 last season. The home team won all three contests. The Cannons beat the Lizards 15-12 to open the 2011 campaign, and then crushed Long Island 19-8 in Week 4. The Lizards took revenge with a 12-11 victory on the Island, but the Cannons got the last laugh, as they hoisted the Steinfeld Trophy while the Lizards did not qualify for postseason play.

Boston Cannons: The Cannons opened their title defense with a blistering 4-0 start that saw no team come within six goals of the defending champs. However, in a nationally televised game coming off a bye week, Rochester stunned Boston with a 17-16 upset in torrential rain. When asked what lesson he took from the loss, Coach Steve Duffy emphasized possession: “We need to take care of the ball, it’s something we emphasize this week and it’s something we didn’t do [last week].” Duffy sees the Lizards as a much-improved team, saying, “For those people who had written off the Long Island Lizards they should reconsider after last week… It’s going to be a challenge this week, no doubt.”

Players to Watch: For Boston, the offense begins and ends with Paul Rabil. Rabil leads Major League Lacrosse with 29 points on 13 goals (1 2-pt goal) and 15 assists. Number 99 demands constant quick slides and double-teams, opening up space for the rest of the Cannons offense, particularly linemate Mike Stone (13 goals). Duffy thinks that Stone’s hot start is a carryover from a strong 2011 playoffs. Ryan Boyle (15 assists) is the primary feeder on attack. Rabil and Boyle look for Kevin Buchanan (11 goals – 1 2pt)and Matt Poskay (10 goals)to finish their passes. Defensively, Duffy said that he expects to rotate Brian Farrell and PT Ricci at pole to combat Long Island’s explosive midfield. Faceoff specialist Chris Eck (59%) is perhaps the best in the game. Goaltender Jordan Burke (4-1, 9.90, .576) has played every minute for the Cannons this season.

Watch Week 5 Highlights

Long Island Lizards: The Lizards lost their first two games of the 2012 season, but have clawed their way back to .500 with wins over expansion clubs Charlotte and Ohio. The Lizards recorded an impressive 20-10win over the Machine last week at home. Coach Jim Spallina is excited for the challenge of going up to Boston and facing the defending champion Cannons: “It’s a good chance to see where we’re at moving forward. They’re the world champs for a reason. We’re embracing our shot at the champs. We have a lot of respect for them.” Spallina says the Cannons “have everything we want” as an organization, and thinks that the Lizards could emulate the Cannons’ model with their exciting young core.

Players to Watch: The young but talented Long Island attack could cause problems for Boston. Rookie attackman Matt Gibson (Yale) has been making headlines with 10 points in his first two MLL games. Gibson has begun to draw tremendous respect from defenses which should help former Maryland teammates Grant Catalino (9 points) and Ryan Young (7 points) increase their offensive output. Brian Langtry (14 goals)and Max Seibald (9 goals) have paced the offense from the midfield. Netminder Drew Adams’s numbers(2-2, 12.25, .515) are down from last season but he is still one of the best goalies in the MLL. Faceoff specialist Greg Gurenlian (62%) was named MLL Defensive Player of the Week last week, going 22 of 33 in the win over Ohio. His matchup with Eck will be fun to watch. The Lizards welcome former Duke star CJ Costabile into the lineup this weekend alongside fellow rookie LSM Tim Henderson. Spallina loves both players’ athleticism and envisions playing both poles together, which would be an unconventional but potentially dynamic alignment in the middle of the field.  

Watch Week 5 Highlights

Next Match-Up: Next week, the Cannons visit the Charlotte Hounds on Saturday June 16th at 7 p.m. ET. The Lizards will head back to Ohio to face the Machine Saturday June 9th at 7 p.m. ET.

2012 MLL All-Star Game presented by Moe's Southwest Grill

MLL will host its marquee event in Palm Beach County, FL this year on Saturday, June 30! To buy your tickets now, click here. To learn more about the 2012 MLL All-Star Game presented by Moe's Southwest Grill, click here. The 2012 MLL All-Star Game will feature the best lacrosse players in the world, all on one field and will be aired live on ESPN2 and ESPN3.

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