Tonight's playoff will pit the first place team against the last place team and second place against third place. The winners will face off next Wednesday for the league championship. Make it or break lax starts tonight.
Game 1 - 5:45 - #2 Clark Physical Therapy vs #3 Wellspring ParableLast week Clark Physical Therapy shot ahead of Wellspring thanks to a favorable goal differential. In head-to-head meetings, the Young Guns hold the edge over Drake Lite. However, Clark beat Wellspring in their last meeting.
Both Zielonko and Nielsen plan to be on the field for the Young Guns. Both have the ability to take control of the game and can help pad the back of the net. The absence of their leadership was clearly felt in last week's loss to Lightning Wear. The biggest known losses are the Tornberg brothers; Will is still recovering from a broken arm and Jamie is out due to dental issues. This leaves Dirk Arends and Kurt Sundermann as the anchors on defense. Both played strong last week and have a strong physical presence. Between them, Clark's Ripchinski should be less of a factor. Finding a third man among their ranks with the speed and ability to mark on Clark's strong middies could prove to be the key.
Clark has taken a turn for the better as the team has picked up experienced newcomers in Ladd and Berg. With an already strong core, these two increased the speed and shot power of the midfield and turned Clark into a force to be reckoned with. Shoff captains the team from the defense and has a nice complement of poles at his aid. Ripchinski and Jacobs have been dominating factors at attack all season. The transition game will be Clark's best weapon.
This game will be decided in the midfield. The battle between Zielonko/Nielsen and Berg/Ladd looks fairly even; meaning the supporting players will play a strong role. Wellspring has the talent, but I'm giving the edge to Clark due to the experience. Ysenko, Brandenberg, and Reeb are simply bigger and more experienced than Straw, Oberender, and Delsol.
Prediction: Clark Physical Therapy by three.
Game 2 - 6:45 - #1 Lightning Wear vs #4 Mi Casa Rustic FurnitureHow many times did I predict a Lightning Wear loss this season? The Bolts responded to every prediction the same way - by beating their opponent. They have proven themselves to be an unstoppable force all season. With a strong mix of speed, power, and size, Lightning Wear has established themselves as the most likely league champion. With Valley's starting goalie, attack, midfield, and two of its captains combing with other varsity players and a compliment of experienced adult players, this team was certifiably lethal from Day One. Nothing has stopped the Bolts yet and they enter tonight's game doubting that a struggling Mi Casa team will be more than a minor headache.
It is no secret that Mi Casa has struggled all season. Despite having strong players, we have failed to connect on offense far too often. The transition game has been our enemy all season. Tonight we walk onto the field knowing that all of our previous failings could be wiped away with a single upset win. This puts a lot of pressure on a team that seems to panic. But we have managed close scores in several encounters and have the potential to win. Our biggest issue tonight will be personnel: who will be available and where will they play? If we are lucky enough to have all four d-poles, most of our mids (Van Dyke is out), with Johnston and Kaufmann at attack, we will stand a great chance securing the upset. Even missing a few pieces of the puzzle should be okay as long as we manage to maintain possession. Tonight we enter knowing that our entire season comes down to this one game.
Prediction: Lightning Wear is the unstoppable force and immovable object; they win by two.