May 9, 2013

MLL Week 3: Boyle Still Chasing All-Time Points Record

Leader Powell now will be back this season

by Phil Shore | LaxMagazine.com | Related: Washburn's MLL Power Rankings

Ryan Boyle needs one point to tie the MLL's all-time scoring record held by Casey Powell, who was once thought retired. Powell will return at some point this season, Chesapeake coach Dave Cottle said.
© Lee Weissman

When the 2013 Major League Lacrosse season started Ryan Boyle sat four points behind Casey Powell – who announced he was retiring during the offseason – for the most career points in MLL history.

For a player that had averaged 4.1 points per game over his eight-year career, it seemed the record would fall in no time.

Yet here we are approaching Week 3 and Boyle has only three points in two games for the winless Boston Cannons (0-2). As Boston has struggled to win and to score, Boyle's slow start and lack of involvement raise red flags for the Cannons.

"I think that's a big piece of what we need to do to get in our flow," Cannons head coach Steve Duffy said. "Teams recognize that when Ryan's on, we're on. We have to do better to get him better looks."

While defenses key on him, there's also the potential that the looming record is on Boyle's mind, distracting him and causing him to force plays that aren't there. Duffy quickly deflected that notion however.

"He's all about the team and all about winning," Duffy said. "He broke the record last year for assists. I acknowledged it and he was almost embarrassed that I did. ... I don't believe that's on his mind at all."

Boyle, who has played with Boston since 2009, could potentially break the record at home Saturday against the Denver Outlaws. He needs one point to tie it and two to beat it.

The undefeated Denver Outlaws have been tough on defense, however, and employ the 2012 MLL Defensive Player of the Year, Lee Zink.

"[Zink] just gives us an element teams don't have the luxury of having. He's been able to over the years control or handle the toughest matchups," Denver head coach Jim Stagnitta said. "Ryan is the quarterback of that team and he's the guy that makes those adjustments on the field. He has great lacrosse IQ and that's going to be our Lee Zink matchup."

The Zink-Boyle matchup is always a must-watch, but it becomes even more special due to what's at stake for Boyle.

If Boyle does in fact get enough points to break the record, the next question becomes how long can he keep it?

Although Powell said he was retiring, he was claimed by the Chesapeake Bayhawks in the supplemental draft this winter and was activated last week. The latest news is that Powell will in fact play in the MLL this season.

"He played at Lake Placid [in 2012] so he's in a two game suspension. So once that suspension ends this weekend we will put together a timetable for him," said Bayhawks head coach Dave Cottle. "But you will see Casey Powell in a Bayhawk uniform this season."

Should Powell come back, he and Boyle will contend all season for the all-time points record. It will be a storyline to follow all season long.

Road Warriors

The Denver Outlaws, last season's MLL Championship runners-up, had the unenviable task of starting the season with three consecutive road games. Coaches know how difficult winning one game on the road is.

"One of the things I've learned is winning on the road is one of the hardest things to do," said Charlotte Hounds head coach Mike Cerino, whose team beat the Rochester Rattlers away from home last week.

Despite the outstanding challenge at hand for Denver, the Outlaws have flourished in the early going, winning the first two games of the season and going for a third against the Boston Cannons on Saturday. Getting these games out of the way and coming out with victories early on is crucial to the team's success this season, according to head coach Jim Stagnitta.

"I think it's important to win early. I think last year when it went to eight teams it makes a difference. You used to be able to stub your toe early and make up for it," he said. "We tried to build our roster to supplement for the guys we were going to be missing for a few weeks. It's important to get these under your belt. It takes some of the pressure off down the stretch."

Brian Langtry Retires

With two games in the books in the 2013 MLL season, we now have our second official retirement.

The MLL announced this week that New York Lizards midfielder Brian Langtry has retired after playing in 113 career games dating back to the league's inaugural season.

"I played that first game with the Lizards, running up and down the field and I felt like I didn't have it physically," Langtry said in a press release. "Mentally I figured I could get away with things given my experience, but the body only goes so far and running up and down the field against guys in their twenties was kind of a wakeup call."

Lizards head coach Joe Spallina says the veteran will be truly missed in New York.

"What he did for us last year ... we were real young. We had a bunch of kids who didn't know their way around the league and he was able to be that glue," Spallina said. "We were loose and fun and a lot of that came from him. He helped our younger guys relax. Matt Gibson gravitated to him."

The Hofstra graduate leaves MLL with 167 goals and 111 assists and the 2009 MLL All-Star MVP.

Week 3 Preview

Denver Outlaws (2-0) at Boston Cannons (0-2), 7 p.m. Saturday
Broadcast: ESPN3

The Boston Cannons have not started the season 0-2 since 2009. They finished 6-6 that year. Despite a talented and veteran roster, a 0-3 hole may be too difficult to dig out of, even for a perennial championship contender. All one has to do is look at last year's Hamilton Nationals season, when they finished 4-10 one year after being the MLL Championship runners-up.

While their backs are already against the wall, Duffy says the team cannot let the pressure get to them, either in the season as a whole or in an individual game.

"The other night we just weren't making the passes, we weren't connecting. Again I think that it was a bad game," he said. "As a result of making bad passes you press and that just steamrolls into more bad passes."

Rochester Rattlers (0-2) at Charlotte Hounds (1-1), 7 p.m. Saturday
Broadcast: ESPN3

The two teams wrap up the season series in Week 3, playing each other for the second consecutive weekend. The Rattlers finished a game back of the fourth playoff spot last season and will need a victory Saturday to ensure they don't fall too far behind too early.

Rattlers head coach Tim Soudan said his group needs to have a better team effort in order to avenge last week's loss.

"I told the guys, on paper were one of the best teams. How do we get it from paper to the field?" he said. "When you look at our film you say that's not how the game is supposed to be played, that's not the game plan, what happened? Guys are trying to do just so much on their own."

Ohio Machine (0-1) at Chesapeake Bayhawks (2-0), 7 p.m. Saturday
Broadcast: ESPN3

The rich continue to get richer. The Bayhawks are the defending league champions and are tied for first-place in the league in the early going of the season. They now will be getting back 20-goal scorer and lacrosse icon John Grant, Jr. for this weekend's game against the Machine.

He'll rejoin an already loaded offense featuring Ben Rubeor (who had seven goals last weekend), Ben Hunt, Kyle Dixon and Drew Westervelt, amongst others.

Ohio, who has struggled to score goals in their 15 game MLL history, will have its hands full.

"They've got so many weapons out there on offense," Machine head coach Ted Garber said. "We've got to get possession of the ball. We have to get opportunities to score."

New York Lizards (1-1) at Hamilton Nationals (1-0), 7 p.m. Saturday
Broadcast: YouTube.com/MLL

The New York Lizards have had a number of tremendously talented goalies and long poles over the years. They traditionally play extremely tough defense. When Dave Huntley took over the Hamilton Nationals again this past offseason, however, he made a commitment that the team would play good team defense.

They yielded only eight goals to the offensively potent Boston Cannons last week and will look to have a duplicate performance against a New York team that scored only three goals last week.

"We got sticks in passing lanes. We really didn't want to isolate a lot of guys," Huntley said about his defense against Boston. "We want to play team defense. We don't want to have guys feel like if they get beat it's their fault. It's a team, not 19 individuals. That's the approach; to support each other."


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