LaxDirt's first quarter grade for the New York Lizards in the MLL.
The New York Rangers are not the only underperforming team in the Big Apple at the moment. The New York Lizards were all the talk of the MLL offseason this year making moves to bring back Stephen Berger and bring in Mark Matthews. Plus we all know this guy from Cornell they drafted last year will be coming in this season, and this week. I hear he can play. these big moves make people forget about drafting JoJo Marasco who may been the best midfielder in the country this year and picking up David Earl (who in my opinion is one of the best 1v1 dodgers from up top in the game), Steve Waldeck, and my friend from the number 7 bus in Boston in the morning Jack Reid. Needless to say, a lot of people in the media, myself included, had very high expectations for this team. Last year I was driving their bandwagon bus. Still, the fact remains that they are 2-2, which is not bad, but they could be doing better
Dropping the outlier that was the Chesapeake game, this unit has played pretty well. Palasek and Matthews have both stolen the show for this team. Gibson had one good game but I think that was more so because the Hamilton defense was paying a lot more attention to Palasek and Matthews. Berger saw some time on attack, and I don’t like that at all. I think this may just have been just a move to get Palasek some runs out of the box to get him ready for when that number 3 guy shows up, I hear he’s okay. This unit altogether has been alright, but not as amazing as advertised. Going forward I would like to see Pannell running with Palasek and Matthews on the attack. I think Gibson is overrated and will not work on the same field as Pannell. Plus Palasek has shown better off-ball play than Gibson. I believe that attack could mesh together very well and be very good for a long time. This unit has potential, but it has yet to amaze anyone yet
They are only getting a C- is because the defensive middies and groundball guys have been getting it done. I have big expectations for this midfield and so far nobody has shown me anything. Berger has been okay. Earl has been okay, Peyser has been kind off invisible. I don’t care that Seibald has been hurt; I thought this would be the second best midfield in the league this season, only just behind Chesapeake. They have not lived up to the hype AT ALL. I thought playing with Berger again would bring Peyser back to 2011 form, but nope. I thought that Earl would easily handle any shortie matchup that he was bound to get, but not yet. I truly want to see this unit do better because I like the names they put out, but okay is just flat out not good enough for the level of skill they have on this roster. The offense gets and E/F, whatever failing grade your high school gives out. On the other hand, their defensive middies have been stellar as expected. They have blanked Dixon, and limited Kevin Crowley to a two pointer and an assist. They offense owed the defense a win in both their losses and they didn’t show up, those are the worst kind of losses.
He’s Greg Gurenlian. He has guys like Costible and the Untersein brothers on his wing. This is easily the best unit in the game so far this year. Still, I expect this of them so I am not that impressed.
It is tough to grade a defense this early in the season; the only glaring problem that I can see in this unit is that they let Ben Rubeor pick them apart. BK needs to step it up, but in that game he could have used a slide or two which he wasn’t getting. Drew Adams has been solid but hasn’t really stolen a game yet. They have not played bad, it is just too early to get a good read on any defense unless you’re Boston and your defense has been downright awful for the most part.
Overall assessment: C+
I had HUGE expectations for this team coming into the season, but looking back on it I don’t really know why. They limped into the playoffs last year. They only got in because Rochester choked against Charlotte. Then when they got in out of sheer luck, they were on the other end of what was the biggest collapse I have seen in lacrosse since the 09 NCAA finals when Cornell fell to Cuse in OT. Poor Seibald was on both rosters. This team may look very different, but they have yet to have a statement win to prove they belong in playoff and possibly championship talk again. I had too high expectations for this team, I admit I was wrong. In hindsight, why did we expect so much of a team that limped into the playoffs and them got smoked by Denver? It’s not like they get a lot of practice time in MLL so the new guns get time to work things out that quickly. They need to gel together and they need to find the elusive next gear you need to be an elite team. This team should be better than Hamilton and maybe Denver. They have more talent than either team, and have more depth than either team. 2-2 just is not good enough. They have not played bad at all, but they have the potential to be better than Charlotte and Boston and that is around where people are grouping them right now. Heavy lies the crown, and when you have the skill they have, you are held to a higher standard. It will be interesting to see what this team is really made of in the coming weeks.