MLL Playoffs Preview 2008

NB Zip Major League Lacrosse Championship weekend is August 23rd and 24th at Harvard stadium in Boston, Massachusetts. The Rochester Rattlers, Los Angeles Riptide, Denver Outlaws, and Philadelphia Barrage have all punched their tickets.

Game #1: Philadelphia Barrage vs. Rochester Rattlers

Date/Time: Saturday, August 23rd, 12 PM EST.

TV: ESPN2

Rochester will have the #1 overall seed because they finished at 9-3 and at the top of the standings. Philadelphia is the #4 overall seed after finishing at 7-5 and in second place in the Eastern Conference.

Season series: Rochester 2-0

The Rattlers and Barrage have faced-off twice already this season. Rochester opened its home schedule on May 31st with a 22-9 win. The Rattlers traveled to Cary, North Carolina on June 21st, to take on the Barrage in a rain-drenched match. Rochester would take that one as well, 20-17 to sweep the season series.

Rochester:

Rochester is led offensively by attackmen John Grant Jr. (47g, 4 two-pointers, 13 assists), Jeff Zywicki (31g, 14a), and Colin Doyle (23g, 17a), and midfielders Joe Walters (32g, 12a) and Casey Powell (15g, 26a). Face-off specialist Alex Smith set the all-time single season face-off wins record with 249 wins out of 395 draws.

Rochester’s unorthodox goalie by committee experiment has been one of the key’s to the Rattlers success. Veteran Mike Levin (5-2, 14.63 goals against average) plays the first half and is replaced by tenacious rookie Brett Queener (4-0. 9.71 GAA) in the second half. The Rattlers haven’t lost a game since this rotation began.

Defensemen Brodie Merrill, Jack Reid, and Solomon Bliss aren’t afraid to knock opposing offensive players on their butt if they get too close to Levin or Queener.

Philadelphia:

Homeless, the Barrage have been the MLL’s version of a traveling road show this season. With “Home” games in Oregan, St.louis, and Dallas, among many others, Philadelphia has logged over 18,000 miles this season, and still managed to have enough left in the tank to take a trip to Boston.

The Barrage are led offensively by attackmen Ryan Boy (21g, 22a), Seth Goldberg (29g, 4a), and Michael Springer (21g, 7a) and midfielders Matt Striebel (31g, 11a), and Roy Colsey (13g, 9a).

Perennial all-star goaltender, Brian Dougherty (6-4, 14.00 GAA) mans the pipes in front of the Barrage defense of Kyle Sweeney, Brett Moyer, and Brian Spallina.

Who’s going to win?

Don’t let the season sweep by Rochester fool you, the Barrage are the two-time defending champs and always seem to find a way to get it done come playoff time. On paper though, it looks like Rochester should come away with a win, but only time will tell if the Rattlers can get the playoff monkey off their back and win their first playoff game in franchise history.

Prediction:

Rochester 18

Philadelphia 16

Game #2: Los Angeles Riptide vs. Denver Outlaws

Date/Time: Saturday, August 23rd, 3 PM EST.

TV: ESPN360.com

Denver won the Western Conference and the #2 overall seed with an 8-4 record. Los Angeles finished in second place in the west with a 7-5 record and received the #3 overall seed in the post season.

Season Series: Denver 2-1

The Outlaws and Riptide face off three times in the regular season, with Denver holding a 2-1 edge, which ultimately led to their conference crown. On May 17th, Denver blew out L.A. 22-12 to start the season and then won again on June 7th 16-13. Just when it looked like the Outlaws would run away with the season series, the ‘Tide pulled out an impressive 16-6 win on July 12th.

Denver:

The Outlaws are led on the offensive side of the ball by attackmen Brendan Mundorf (30g, 14a), Ryan Powell (15g, 23a), and Drew Westervelt (24g, 8a), and midfielders Brian Langtry (24 g, three two-pointers, and 20a) and Jeff Sonke (17g, 9 a).

Goalie Trevor Tierney retired to join the coaching staff and young Jesse Schwartzman was pressed into duty this season. He didn’t disappoint, finishing at 8-4, with a 13.39 goals against average, and an appearance in the 2008 all star game at home in Denver.

Defensively, the Outlaws are led by Zach Jungers and Lee Zink as well as Geoff Snider at the Face-off “X” who finished with 175 wins out of 363 draws.

Los Angeles:

The Riptide are a much different team in ’08 then they were during the 2007 season. Gone are Spencer Ford, Graham Gill, Sean Lindsay, and Matt Russell. In their place are Jesse Hubbard, Kyle Harrison, and Rookie of the year Kevin Huntley.

The ‘Tide are led on attack by Hubbard (26 g, 14a), Huntley (30g, 5a), and Chazz Woodson (16g, 14a), and midfielders Harrison (17 g, 13a) and Greg Downing (19g, 4a).

Goalie Mikey Jarboe is once again holding down the pipes for the Riptide. He finished with a 7-4 record and 12.75 goals against average.

Los Angeles is led on the defensive side of the ball by a group of wiley veterans. D.J. Driscoll, Greg Bice, Brett Hughes, and Mitch Belisle anchor the tough defensive line.

Who’s going to win?

This game is equally as tough to call as the Rochester/Philly tilt. Major League Lacrosse is a parity filled league and it’s not easy to predict who will win on a given day. Denver took the first two games decidedly of the season series, but Los Angeles won the last match up by ten goals. Both teams are coming off upset losses in the last week of the season, but L.A. has gone 6-1 in its last seven games and Denver has only gone 4-3.

Prediction:

Los Angeles 19

Denver 15

NB Zip Championship Game.

Date/Time: Sunday, August 24th, 1 PM EST.

TV: ESPN2

Check back Saturday evening for a preview of Sunday’s championship game!

Chris Osburn profile picChris Osburn is a 26 year old freelance writer. He’s currently a beer columnist for The Father Life and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. On top of that, he writes about professional lacrosse for insidelacrosse.com. He’s also written for Genesee Valley Parenting Magazine and ESPN.com.

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