Monthly Archives: August 2008
Oh what a summer it was in the MLL.
We saw the emergence of a new generation of rookie superstars, a road-hogging ‘Garbage’ crew nearly make it three straight and the continued explosion of top-tier Canadians in the field game.
Of course, the Rochester Rattlers are your 2008 MLL Champions, but our man Quint Kessenich was there for the whole season from start to finish, and noted a lot more than just the wins and losses on the field. He’s here this week with a final look back at the summer that was, A-to-Z style.
A – ALL 63 on TV – Every MLL game was televised this summer as part of Commissioner David Gross’s aggressive campaign to widen exposure at the national and local levels. ESPN2 showed 11 games in Hi-Definition as part of their national game-of-the-week package. Local games were broadcast by cable networks including Cox, Comcast and Fox. The league will continue to push television in 2009, hopefully more games will be shown live on ESPN2 and not at 3:30pm on Tuesday afternoons.
B – BOSTON – New England was the host for the 2008 NB Zip Championship weekend. Attendance records were set as over 8,000 fans watched the eighth title game in league history – not a bad total considering that the Boston Cannons were not playing in the postseason. Gillette Stadium drew nearly 60,000 for the NCAA semifinals in May and will once again host the 2009 NCAA Men’s Finals.
C – CASEY POWELL – The ‘Carthage Comet’ became the MLL’s All-time points leader midway through the summer, surpassing Mark Millon. Powell was switched from attack to midfield after Rochester was 4-3 and the Rattlers won seven straight after the adjustment. Powell also scored the semifinal game winner in OT and had three assists in the championship game for Rochester.
D – DONE? – Will this be the last go round for players like John Gagliardi, Roy Colsey, Brian Kuczma, Jesse Hubbard, Sean Donnelly, Michael Watson, Ryan Curtis, Kevin Cassese, Matt Oglesby and Brian Dougherty?
E – ERIC MARTIN – The defender from Salisbury scored a hat-trick in the All-Star game and was voted an All-Pro. Martin can be spotted at Golden Boy Pizza in San Fran when he’s not surfing with Chris Rotelli.
F – FACELIFT – New Jersey, San Francisco and Chicago all changed the face of their lineup this summer, but Los Angeles dressed eight new players this summer and nearly made it back to the championship game. Coach John Tucker and General Manager GW Mix added Kyle Harrison, Brett Hughes, Jesse Hubbard, Kevin Buchanan, Kevin Huntley, Jimmy Borrell, Mike McDonald and Joey Kemp without missing a beat.
G – GRAHAM GILL – LA’s best midfielder did not play this year. He’s a Naval academy graduate who’s in the Navy serving the country in Iraq. The Riptide rallied around his cause all season.
H – HUBBARD – Jesse Hubbard we traded from NJ to LA and played with renewed vigor. The veteran from Princeton produced 26 goals and 14 assists, becoming the MLL’s career goals leader in the process.
I – INVESCO Field – The Mile High City led the MLL in attendance in 2008. The Outlaws played in front of over 65,000 fans in six home games, including over 20,000 on July 4th before their annual fireworks extravaganza. Denver was 6-0 at home in 2008 and is 11-1 over the past two years in Invesco.
J – JOHN GRANT JR – He’s the best offensive player in lacrosse, hands down. Grant puts up huge point totals and his teams have a habit of winning.
K – KEVIN HUNTLEY – The rookie from Johns Hopkins took home Rookie of the Year honors with 30 goals during the regular season, another league record.
L – THE LEVEILLE BROTHERS – Kevin and Mike put on a show all summer long in Chicago, with the younger sibling barely breaking stride after his NCAA and Tewaaraton Trophy runs in May.
M – MERRILL as in BRODIE MERRILL – Took home the Defender of the Year Award again. The Canadian born defender scored six goals and added 12 assists during the regular season. We spoke with Brodie last week and got a few interesting tidbits:
“I nearly went to Middlebury to play hockey and lacrosse…Kyle Sweeney helped me settle down at Georgetown, he taught me how to be aggressive but smart…When you’re a wingman on a faceoff don’t rush the pile too quickly…When I’m getting a ground ball all I’m focused on is getting the ball and then getting out of trouble.”
N – NEW JERSEY – The Pride re-tooled their lineup in the off-season, getting rid of Kyle Harrison, Jesse Hubbard and Brett Hughes. Coach Peter Jacobs picked up a handful of rookie talent in the draft – Matt Danowski, Stephen Peyser, Tony McDevitt, Jordan Levine, Alex Hewit, After a 0-3 start, the Pride went 6-3 the rest of the season with a win over rival Philadelphia on August 9. They will be a playoff team with the addition of a dodging midfielder and stud defender.
O – THE OC – The LA Riptide closed their season with a game against San Francisco at Orange Coast College in Orange County. The high school growth in that area of California has been skyrocketing and the crowd at the game far exceeded what LA had been drawing at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA. Here’s to more games in the OC.
P – PHILADELPHIA – The homeless Barrage logged over 18,000 miles this summer on the road without a home. Philly played games at Virginia Beach (their locker room got ransacked), Dallas, St Louis, Cary, NC, Portland, Boston twice and Los Angeles.
Q – Quint’s Look Ahead to the 2009 Collegiate Draft – Next years class isn’t as deep as the Class of 2008 but there are some All-Stars in the making. I think Max Seibald, Zack Greer, Danny Gladding, Ben Hunt and Drew Adams are first round locks. The Chicago Machine are on the clock. Look for Jordan Burke, Jon Glynn, Dan Hardy, Matt Abbott, Jeff Reynolds, Ned Krotty, Brad Ross, Shane Walterhoeffer, Brandon Corp and Michael Evans to become MLL stalwarts.
R – ROCHESTER – Rattlers won their last seven games and took the Steinfeld Cup back to the Flour City. GM Jody Gage put together a roster that fits and coach BJ O’Hara got his squad to play their best games when it mattered most. Assistant coach Bill Warder deserves credit for the work he did with goalies Mike Levin and Brett Queener.
S – SAN FRANCISCO – The Dragons had moments of offensive futility, they were held to single digit goals against Chicago, New Jersey, Denver (twice) and Los Angeles. They did take a step forward beating the Riptide in the season finale.
T – TWO POINT GOALS- Kyle Dixon led the MLL in two pointers made with 5 this summer. There were 56 2-pointers in 60 regular season games, that’s less than 1 per game.
U – UNDERRATED- My Top 6 most under rated players in the MLL starts with defender Lee Zink of Denver. Zink reminds me of old schooler’s Reid Jackson and Joe Breschi. These are D-Men who are not flashy checkers but knock down passes, make all the right calls, slides and are pests. Other under rated MLL players include: Rochester’s speedy short-stick midfielder Chris Schiller, LA’s Mitch Belisle, Long Island attack-man Keith Cromwell (40 pts), Chicago’s Jake Deane, and Philadelphia’s Jed Prossner.
V – Virginia Beach – On Sunday May 18th Philadelphia beat Washington 17-12 at Virginia Beach SportsPlex in front of 3,826 fans. The field was lined incorrectly before the game and face-off was delayed briefly as a second 2 point arc was crafted. During the game the Philadelphia locker room was robbed. Not exactly a banner tryout for a potential future team home.
W – WASHINGTON – The Mid-Atlantic Bay Hawks struggled after a 3-1 start, dropping seven games in a row. Washington hasn’t won a game in the month of July since 2006.
X – X Men Dominate – Early in the summer it was Long Island face-off man Peter Vlahakis winning every face-off in sight. But by the end of August, Rochester’s Alex Smith caught fire and set a single season record for face-off wins with 249. He finished the year at 63% and won 35 of his 58 face-offs in the postseason. Vlahakis clicked at 60% and San Francisco’s Greg Gurenlian won 55% of his draws. They were the only three teams above 50% in the ten team MLL.
Y – Year of the Rookie – My top ten rookies of 2008 are: Paul Rabil, Matt Danowski, Kevin Huntley, Steven Brooks, Mike Leveille, Matt Bocklet, Stephen Peyser, Brendan Loftus, Mike Ward, and Brett Queener. Five players (Danowksi, Leveille, Brooks, Huntley and Rabil) recorded more than 30 points. They represent five of the top ten rookie scoring marks of all-time.
Z – ZUMMO – Tommy Zummo of the Boston won the New Balance Sportsman of the Year Award. It recognizes a player who demonstrated sportsmanship through tenacity, determination and fair play on and off the field over the course of the season.
Zummo became an important part of the life of a young boy from East Islip, N.Y. Christian Koehler, who has been diagnosed with cancer, and Zummo became friends during the season and Zummo became an inspiration to Koehler and his family.
At one point during the season, Zummo organized a fundraiser, which included an autographed helmet auction from each of the MLL’s ten teams. The auction raised nearly $10,000, which was donated to Koehler’s fundraiser. Zummo also served as the headliner for the event.
Zummo also hosted Koehler and his family at the Cannons’ August 2 game against the two-time defending MLL champion Philadelphia Barrage. During the season, Koehler has completed his chemotherapy treatments.
Aug. 22, 2008
Santa Barbara, CA – UCSB will travel to Oahu October 23rd – 26th to play in the Hawaii Lacrosse Tournament. It is the second year the Gauchos are going to play lacrosse in Hawaii as part of Fall Ball training. The tournament is played at Kapiolani Park at the foot of Diamondhead (pictured here). Last year two UCSB teams participated in a set of games outside the brackets due to flight scheduling. The Gauchos plan to participate in the tournament brackets this year. The two separate teams combined for a 6-0 record playing only on Friday and Saturday in Hawaii in 2007.
“Getting an affordable airfare was the deciding factor in our flight schedule last year,” says UCSB head coach Paul Ramsey. “This year we’re booking our flights earlier so we can stay long enough on Sunday to compete for the championship.”
Ramsey sponsors a post-collegiate team in the tournament. The players who comprise the East West Sports Camps team have won the tournament championship six of the last seven years. They are a mix of camp staff, friends and ringers brought in for the weekend.
Three-time Stanford All-American Laura Shane turns to coaching.
Aug. 26, 2008
STANFORD, Calif. – Just a few months after playing against each other, Jaime Sellers and Laura Shane will unite on the women’s lacrosse coaching staff at Stanford.
Sellers, a former William & Mary standout, and Shane, Stanford’s greatest goalkeeper, have joined new Head Coach Amy Bokker’s staff. Sellers will be a full-time assistant and Shane a volunteer assistant.
Sellers completed her collegiate career in 2008, earning All-Colonial Athletic Association first-team honors as a midfielder and making an impression on Bokker, who coached at conference rival George Mason.
Sellers scored three goals against Shane and Stanford during a game last season, and scored three against Bokker’s George Mason team. Sellers totaled 66 goals in 2008, breaking a single-season school record that had stood for 30 years. Over her career, Sellers scored 108 goals and had 19 assists for 127 points.
“She was an excellent leader for her team and that certainly attracted her to me,” Bokker said. “She has an extreme passion for the game and is really eager to get into the coaching ranks.”
Sellers, a native of Kennebunk, Maine, led the Tribe in six categories last season (goals, points, draw controls, shots, free position goals, shots on goal) and scored five game-winning goals. She was selected to the All-South Region second team by the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association and made the IWLCA Honor Roll.
This will be the first coaching position for Sellers, whose main responsibilities will be defense and scouting.
“We’re really looking forward to getting her into the program as we start a new phase of lacrosse here at Stanford,” Bokker said.
Shane, a three-time All-America, was named 2008 national Goalkeeper of the Year by womenslacrosse.com. She led the nation in save percentage (.559) and saves (232), and was second in saves per game (11.6).
The hires of Sellers and Shane complete Bokker’s coaching staff that also includes Brooke McKenzie, who served as an assistant coach the past two seasons under Bokker at George Mason.
After four past postseason losses, Rochester raced to a 16-6 victory Sunday over Denver before 8,481 fans to capture the franchise’s first league championship.
It has been a very exciting week. Cameron has spent time on a bicycle to build up his leg strength as well as to help him with his balance. He can support his own weight on the bike, while being assisted using the pedals. At Project Walk, his team of therapists began a treatment where he is placed into a ceiling-mounted hoist with electrical stimulation tools on his legs. He is then lifted into an upright standing position and, while he is holding onto bars on either side of him, the electrical stimulation lifts his legs and simulates walking. Since his blood pressure has to be continually monitored, his time in the walking device is limited, but he showed a great deal of progress by being able to work for 10 minutes on his first try. It was a very touching moment for Kelly as it was the first time that Kelly was able to view him eye to eye at his normal height since April.
A lot of visitors are stopping by and it has truly helped to keep Cameron’s spirits up. His new room and bathroom are working out great for being able to entertain friends. Tuesdays and Saturdays are the best days to visit, so if you would like to stop by, please do before the hectic pace of school starts back up.
If you do visit, be prepared to battle Cameron, Kelly, Indiana and Jordan on Rock Band. Cameron is a very good singer so he uses the microphone and, while he can’t quite master the bass drum pedal yet, he is able to to place the drum sticks in his gloves and rock out on the drums too. Move over Tommy Lee…
Next week, Kelly will be meeting with the school district to make plans for Cam to go back to school. He is very excited to see everyone.
Saturday’s semifinals were the best
two games of the summer. Rochester dethroned Philadelphia in sudden-death overtime and Denver rallied to send Los Angeles its walking papers.
These games had all the aspects that make lacrosse what it is: Team defense. Snappy ball movement. Hits. Skillful ground ball play. Creative playmaking. Outstanding saves. Timely coaching.
Sunday’s final couldn’t live up to Saturday’s theatrics. When two tired teams met less than 24 hours later, the smallest advantage was parlayed into what appeared to be a rout. The Rattlers scored 10 straight goals in the second half to blow open a tight game. The heroes were Brodie Merrill, Alex Smith, John Grant Jr. and Jeff Zywicki.
Rochester boarded the team bus back to upstate New York with its first Steinfeld Cup, having closed out the summer by taking its final seven games.
The weekend started on Friday when all four teams checked into the Hyatt in Cambridge. The players represented themselves, their teams and the league in first class fashion.
The four practices on Friday were revealing. Rochester and Philadelphia were ultra loose, irreverent actually. Grant threw the ball all over the field, accumulating a dozen turnovers – part of the creative process I guess.
Later in the day, the Barrage defenders were in rare form.
They have a tradition in practice when they pick off a pass in flight. Instead of clearing the ball, they throw it out of the stadium. So there’s Kyle Sweeney launching the orange ball out and over Harvard Stadium onto a populated city street. Four times the balls disappeared over the ancient concrete stadium, drawing loud cheers from the entire team.
Los Angeles’s and Denver’s drills resembled a buttoned-up college team. Serious business. Talking to the veterans you got the sense that championships don’t grow on trees and that everyone wants to play their best on national television.
By Sunday at 2 p.m., halftime of the final, both teams were on the verge of breaking.
Rochester led 6-5. It dominated the first 30 minutes yet only led by one. The tempo was slow. Denver goalie Jesse Schwartzman was a one-man band with 11 saves. But Denver’s defense was running out of gas, trying to keep up with Rattler picks and rapid ball movement.
Rochester coach B.J. O’Hara changed goalies; Brett Queener replaced Mike Levin.
Queener danced his way onto the big stage with a 30 minute performance for the ages. He ran circles around rubber-legged field players. He brought the fans to their feet. The agile rookie from Albany made 9 saves, gave up one goal and chipped in an assist. The helper was one of the top plays of the summer. I got chills.
Face-off guru Smith won 16 of 25 with some help from his wingmen Merrill, Chris Schiller and Jordan Hall. Smith is a machine in both mindset and technique and Denver’s season slipped away a little bit with every faceoff win.
The Outlaw offense was stagnant all weekend, relying on unassisted goals. They lacked ball movement, didn’t generate a single fast break on Sunday and were held scoreless for 28 minutes of the second half. Their six goals were the lowest point total in championship game historyJack Reid did wonderful work against Brendan Mundorf. Merrill was his usual menacing self – arguably made the most important takeway of his career on Saturday in the closing moments of the the semifinal win, stripping Matt Streibel on Philly’s final possession. Sol Bliss and Kyle Guadagnolo were rough and tumble.
But more important was the sensational job that short stick defenders Pat Dutton, Andy Spack and Schiller did against Denver.
The 2008 Rochester Rattlers will be defined by their offense. They set a record for most assists in a season. They played a hybrid indoor/outdoor brand of offense. Two man games. Picks. Off-ball cuts. Great looking stuff.
Joe Walters lit up the Barrage for four goals on Saturday and then chipped in a pair on Sunday. It’s amazing how he is able to set up his left hand when everybody in Boston knows that’s the direction he’s going. His shooting stroke is the smoothest in the game.
Grant, the reigning two-time league MVP, was held to a season low one goal on just three shots in the semifinals. Philadelphia’s Brian Spallina broke four titanium shafts on Grant but Sunday was a different story. Grant was brash and swashbuckling. He hit the net early and often, finishing with 4 goals and one assist.
Rochester switched Casey Powell to midfield when they were 4-3. Seven wins later they’re the champs. Powell drew the long pole most of the weekend. He showed patience and restraint, netted the game winner on Saturday in OT and chipped in three assists on Sunday afternoon. He’s ageless and as quick as ever.
The Rattlers ball movement benefited Zywicki. He took nine shots in the finals, sending six past Schwartzman from point blank range. The ‘Nibbler’s’ production is a barometer for Rochester offensive flow.
I hoped you enjoyed Championship weekend. I did. It was a fitting close to my collegiate and professional lacrosse year. I’ve never felt more confident about the lacrosse product that Major League Lacrosse puts on the field.
I want to thank the fans for their boisterous support, feedback and passion – it’s always great to meet a face behind an email. I’m energized by your enthusiasm.
Quint welcomes your email at Quint@Insidelacrosse.com. He’ll be in Orlando, Florida this weekend covering college football (the MEAC-SWAC Challenge) for ESPN2.
The life of a professional lacrosse has little in common with that of other professional athletes.
Sure, there’s the sharp uniforms, the equipment deals and the adulation of the fans when you’re on the field, but for the average MLL player, the part-time job may take up an awful lot of your free time between travel and games. But, after the 2008 MLL season, it’s pretty fair to say that if any group ever complains about the travel in the league, there are a few guys with ‘Philadelphia’ on their jerseys that may have a bone to pick with them.
The Philadelphia Barrage were, in fact, not based in the city of brotherly love at all, travelling instead to a series of markets that the league considered potentials for expansion in the future after the team ownership nearly folded the franchise after its second straight MLL title. Though they had ‘home’ events in places like Carey, North Carolina, St. Louis, Dallas and Portland, Oregon, the veteran heavy Barrage focused on not letting it distract them, putting to together a seven win season to make the playoffs despite a laundry list of woes from their journey.
“The first weekend we came in after we beat Washington and some guys had stuff stolen out of their wallets, their lockers, an ipod, some stuff like that,” defenseman Kyle Sweeney said, indicating that the incident was just the ‘tip of the iceburg’ as far as Philly’s woes. “It was pretty funny because we didn’t realize what was gonna come but you almost have to just laugh at it all.”
It is hard enough for the players to make it to all their other away games, yet alone a home away game. Justin Smith remembered trying to get to their game in Boston where he was stuck on a plane for seven hours and never made it to the game. Smith’s teammates from Long Island ended up having to rent a car to drive to the game.
Even with all of the distractions and hardships that the Barrage dealt with, an amazing thing happened. The Barrage showed that they had the ability to push through their difficulties and still have success. “It dawned on me toward the end of the season that the guys never said anything of [the travel situation],” head coach Tony Resch said. “The players, the other coaches, none of them ever said anything about it. The guys never blamed a bad performance or a disappointing loss on the fact that we were always traveling.”
Now, instead of letting the road wear them down, the ‘Garbage’ are two wins away from a third straight MLL championship, a feat which is unmatched in the league’s history. “It feels good, obviously, any time you can get back [to championship weekend],” Sweeney said. “Winning the championship in this league is quite hard but, repeating is essentially impossible and trying to do what we’re trying to do is something most people wouldn’t even think is worth talking about.”
“I think this is really a testament to their maturity as players,” Resch added. “Although I don’t know if the players missed it, it was hard this season because we only had three real practices, which was very frustrating for me. That was one reason why the roster didn’t change that much this year. It would have been hard to plug in a bunch of new guys without practicing. We just kept working at it though.”
by Ami Holt
Hours of running around a muddy sports field have led to a debut on the big screen for five youngsters from Kent.
The five students, from Cranbrook Lacrosse Club, appear in teen romcom Wild Child – which hit cinemas this week.
To film some of the scenes a group of lacrosse-playing extras was needed, so players were recruited from a variety of clubs, including Cranbrook.
Emily Ahlers, Daisy Henderson, Hannah Mahon, Emily Steel and Francesca Whiffin, together with Cranbrook lacrosse club coach Kate Steel, spent four days on set helping teach the actors the basics of the game – and then played their roles as opposition teams.
Kate said: “We thought someone was winding us up when we first got the call but after they explained what was needed we were happy to get a group of players together to go and help out.”
The film stars Emma Roberts, who plays 16-year-old Poppy, an American who lives a pampered life in Los Angeles but is shipped off to an English boarding school by her father.
Finding herself in a foreign world of early curfews, stern matrons and mandatory lacrosse, the American finally meets her match: a school of British girls who won’t tolerate her spoilt ways.