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Friday, July 9, 2010

Thoughts on the MLS All Star Game

BOSTON, MA - Thursday, July 8, 2010 – The 2010 Major League Lacrosse (MLL)All-Star Game capped off a patriotic week in Boston, MA featuring the MLL All-Stars vs. the US Men’s National Team. The second All Star game of its kind in MLL History was seen by a Harvard Stadium professional lacrosse record crowd of 11,771. Team USA defeated the MLL All-Stars 13-12 in a closely contest battle that proved the exhibition is not taken lightly by the best players lacrosse has to offer. Denver’s Brendan Mundorff, playing for Team USA, was named Bud Light MVP for his 6 goal performance.Click here for the full article

I read that this morning and thought it did a fair job of summarizing the game. All in all it was a pretty entertaining game - as far as All Star games go that is. There were several lead changes and big comebacks throughout and the defense was much harder than the scoreline. The face offs were fairly epic. No one can question Alex Smith's ability. Ryan Powell -the only Powell brother still active in Major League Lacrosse and the only one named to Team USA - looked as strong as ever.

The skills competition was great, as usual. Crotty is a pure sniper and demonstrated why overhand shots are generally the best to take. All six of his two pointers were shot overhand. In fact, every ball that went in throughout the accuracy challenge were overhand shots. Not surprisingly, the side arm and 3/4 shots generally went extremely wide. I chuckled about this throughout as I explained to Tiff that we repeatedly emphasized this to the Valley boys over the last two seasons. It took everything I had not to text Bostwick with a "See what we mean now?" due to his preference for the 3/4 shot.

Paul Rabil's 111 mph shot is still impressive, but there is no way he hits that number during a game. The 20 yard run up with no defense is a huge contributor, but the freedom of movement without pads and a helmet probably help a lot too. Still, it is pretty awesome to watch. Oh, and what type of shot is that Mr. Rabil? Overhand you say? Why? Oh yeah, because the ball has to go in the net to count in the speed competition.

As far as the game goes, the MLL All Stars looked good, really good. They knew what they were doing and played like they gave a damn. It's almost as if a few of them (Schwartman, Danowski) felt they had something to prove. As both men were slighted by Pressler (Danowski is one of the best attackmen of all time - and I'm a Duke hater), I suspect that is precisely what was going on.
On top of that, Stephen Berger seemed to come out of nowhere to own the game, and later, Sportscenter.

Team USA's play was far from inspired. They were lazy, sloppy, and just about every adjective one could use to describe my play the other night. Hell, they way they were playing, a team of CILA All Stars could have taken Team USA to the house. And that worries the bejeezus out of me.

Rabil was ineffective (I'm not sure he even took a shot) as was most of the midfield. Despite his brilliant performance in the skills competition and the national team's previous games, Crotty was nearly useless. Without Mundorf's six goals, USA would have been embarrassed. And I still don't think Mundorf belongs on this team (he played for Australia in 2006). Thank god we have the best Powell on this roster (Mikey is all flash and no substance and Casey is old).

Considering that this game served as the final tune up before Team USA heads to Manchester next week, I guess we should be thankful that the national team won. But the victory seems empty, meaningless. Hopefully the boys will play better under international (aka traditional) rules. Maybe the shot clock and two point arc distracted them. It is possible that they can dig deep to their college days and remember how to play real lacrosse. Otherwise the Canadians, Iroquois, and maybe even the Aussies will be ready to pounce...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Reminder - Major League Lacrosse All Star Game

In case you have forgotten, tonight is the 2010 Major League Lacrosse All Star game. This year the MLL All Stars face Team USA at 6:00 pm on ESPN2. This will be the national team's final game before departing for Manchester to play in the World Championships next week.

CILA Summer League - Week 6 Results

Things were thrown in chaos yesterday with the unpredictable weather (what's the point of meteorologists again?) and the last minute absences. With a 75% chance of thunderstorms glaring at as all day, we were pleasantly surprised with nary a drop of rain all afternoon and through the evening. The humidity, on the other hand, was ungodly.
My predictions may have been light yesterday, but I felt pretty confident that I made the right calls. As far as predicting the winners, I hit 50%. But I screwed the pooch on the scorelines...
Game 1 - Clark Physical Therapy 3, Wellspring Parable 6
Late yesterday afternoon, Shoff confirmed that five players would be missing from Clark so we filled in with subs from Mi Casa and Lightning. Taylor was out for Wellspring; luckily Mark Anderson was able to fill in in net.
Despite not getting much playing time over the last several months and not being a goalie by trade, Anderson was as solid as ever. On the other side of the field, Fitch looked strong in net as well. Both teams had great efforts at defense. The midfield units were both linking up regularly too. The biggest issues plaguing both teams revolved around linking up at attack. Communication in the offensive end was nearly nonexistent regardless of who had possession.
With both Zielonko and Neilsen on the field, the Young Guns were more organized than the leaderless CPT team. Their presence may have been the deciding factor in the game.
Game 2 - Lightning Wear 7, Mi Casa Rustic Furniture 2
I came into this one with high hopes, not realizing that Johnston and Von Ahsen would be out for the week. Complicating matters further was the late decision by goalie Burke to miss the game for health reasons. Despite only playing goalie a couple of times, Kaufmann volunteered to fill in. Unfortunately this took away our leading scorer from last week, which in light of Johnston's absence was detrimental to our success.
Kaufmann played an admirable game and it is reassuring to know that we have a capable back up. The defense, led by Aukes and Blay, were solid in front of him. The midfield unit, anchored by Miska, played a complete game as well. Stachan's return was extremely beneficial as well as his ability to run well into the fourth quarter provides a real boost to the team. Van Dyke and Kayser had strong games at attack, but my presence up top was definitely questionable for the first half. I wasted chances with candy shots and had poor off the ball movement on a few occasions. Despite improving significantly as the game wore on, I feel that my actions cost Mi Casa at least four legit scoring chances early on.
The Bolts played as solidly as ever. Shelton manhandled our attack as usual and Mundus bore into our heads with his nonstop jawing. Hunter Couch and McDougal swapped out in goal at half time and both played strong games in net and out. McDougal made one of the most amazing saves of the season with some odd footwork to stop a strong five hole ball less than an inch from the goal line.
Despite improved play all around for Mi Casa, we (by we I am mostly referring to myself) just could not finish. The thing is, I know I am a better shooter than I have demonstrated over the last two weeks. Whatever my mental hang up is, I need to get over it or we'll never rise from this slump. The good news is that we definitely have found a motivating on field presence in Blay.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

CILA Summer League Predictions - Week 6

Today's predictions will be lacking in their usual flavor. I apologize to those that actually enjoy reading my senseless rants. I am swamped at work and have a few things to do on my break.

Game 1 - Clark Physical Therapy vs Wellspring Parable
Clark is missing Shoff, Copolous, and Boyd. Wellspring is missing both Tornberg brothers and Taylor. Mark Anderson (ISU's box captain and all around utility player) will fill in the net for the Young Guns.
Clark has been surging after back-to-back wins over Mi Casa and have really come to form as of late. The Young Guns looked pretty soft against Lightning last week. However Zielonko was missing and the cage was covered by an inexperienced goalie.
Prediction: The Young Guns welcome Zielonko back and Anderson is a capable goalie. Wellspring Parable by 4
Game 2 - Lightning Wear vs Mi Casa Rustic Furniture
The Bolts are a force of nature. Mi Casa can't seem to win. This should be a no brainer. However, if Blay and the other MIA Mi Casa players return this week, we have a chance. Blay provides a lot of intangible qualities and boosts the team's confidence.
Prediction: With a full roster, Mi Casa squeaks out a single goal win

-Weather Note: The current forecast shows a high probability for thunderstorms this afternoon into this evening. A decision will be made around 3:00 pm whether to cancel or continue. In the event of a cancellation, a notice will be posted here and emailed.
**Update 3:55 pm - Barring any drastic changes in the weather, tonight's games will proceed as scheduled. Storms before the start time will of course cause a last minute cancellation.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

An Eye on the Weather

Before I start working on tomorrow's predictions, I wanted to let everybody know that I am monitoring the current weather situation. The last thing I ever want to do is cancel league games, but in the case of extreme weather or even lightning, I have little choice. We have been fortunate to avoid cancelling any games so far this summer due to bad weather. It looks like tomorrow may be the day when our luck finally runs out.Hopefully we do not have to cancel, but the possibility does exist. In the case that games are canceled, I will send out a mass email and post the official notice on the blog. Unfortunately the main Central Iowa Lacrosse Association website will not be updated as I cannot access it at work.
If the games are canceled, minor adjustments will be made to the schedule.

Tribe 7