May 13, 2011

Brenneman 'Built for MLL,' Says Lizards' Mule

by Corey McLaughlin |

At 6-foot-3, 215-pounds and being lefthanded, Zach Brenneman fits the prototype of a successful MLL midfielder.

© John Strohsacker/

Major League Lacrosse turned the rookie draft on its head this year, holding it not only for the first time before the start of the MLL season, but also before the start of the spring college season.

In January, MLL's six teams drafted college seniors whose eligibility would run out at end of this college season. Those players still had a year to play, so general managers and coaches hoped players stayed healthy and watched this spring with intrigue. With the MLL season beginning Saturday for all six teams, draftees will soon join the pro league if their college seasons are already over, or will get set to join teams once they end.

Here's a look at the Long Island Lizards for the 2011 MLL season — with a rookie emphasis.

Long Island Lizards

Jim Mule

Top pick: M Zach Brenneman, Notre Dame, No. 5 overall

The impact

Long Island targeted a midfielder early in the draft and considered taking Brenneman even if Long Island native Shamel Bratton, who went No. 4 to Boston, was still available.

"He's built for the MLL," Lizards coach Jim Mule said of Brenneman, a strong, 6-foot-3, 215-pound lefty.

Brenneman nursed a rib injury with Notre Dame midseason, but Mule said, "Hopefully, he ends the season strong. We're going to look for Zach to make an impact on the offensive end. The way he shoots the ball, hopefully he adds something to our man up unit as well."

He joins: A Matt Danowski, M Stephen Berger, D Nick Polanco, G Drew Adams

Other draft picks: A Jay Card, Hofstra; M Rhamel Bratton, Virginia; A Ryan Young, Maryland; D Sam Barnes, Notre Dame; D Brian Karalunas, Villanova; M Peter Mezzanotte, Towson; D Matt Stefurak, Delaware

Key storyline

The Lizards made a run to the 2010 title game, winning seven straight before falling in the final to the Bayhawks. Their solid transition game was key, and most of those defenseman who jumpstarted it — Polanco, Brian Spallina and Ricky Pages — are back. John Orsen suffered a ruptured Achilles in NLL play in January, but Long Island got a steal by drafting Villanova long stick midfielder Brian Karalunas in the sixth round. He could step in right away. Mule likes the scoring opportunities the transition game provides Danowski on attack.

Last year: 8-6, MLL runner up

2011 Schedule (Game times local to Long Island)

Home games at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium, Hempstead, N.Y.

May 14 at Boston Cannons, 7 p.m.
May 21 at Rochester Rattlers, 7 p.m.
June 3 vs. Denver Outlaws, 7 p.m.
June 11 at Boston Cannons, 6 p.m.
June 16 vs. Chesapeake Bayhawks, 7:30 p.m.
June 25 at Denver Outlaws, 9 p.m.
July 1 at Hamilton Nationals, 7 p.m.
July 16 vs. Boston Cannons, 8 p.m.
July 23 at Chesapeake Bayhawks, 7 p.m.
July 28 vs. Rochester Rattlers, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 6 vs. Denver Outlaws, 7 p.m.
Aug. 13 vs. Hamilton Nationals, 7 p.m.



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