Major League Lacrosse parity partially a result of depth at face-off position.
For years the face-off X has been dominated by the same cast of characters in Major League Lacrosse. Greg Gurenlian, Chris Eck, Anthony Kelly, Geoff Snider and Alex Smith have been the cream of the crop when it came to the face-off position for the better part of the last five plus years.
One of the big story lines this season that probably hasn’t gotten as much play as it should is the talented crop of draw men who have been carrying the load for their teams. One of the reasons there has been so much parity in the MLL in 2014 has been the fact that week in and week out there are guys for multiple teams not named Gurenlian, Eck or Kelly that can go out there and get you a 50-50 draw and sometimes better.
John Ortolani, Tim Fallon and Chris Mattes are what most people would consider journeyman in Major League Lacrosse. Each player has a number of years under their belt; each player has played for multiple franchises within the league and it just so happens that each player is also having their best season of their career. Ortolani for Rochester is sitting a 49.5% on the season heading in to week 12 , Fallon at 48% and Mattes right behind at 47%
Now it goes without saying that the Face-Off itself is not all on one player. Each of these men have had outstanding wing play along the way, but it’s not a coincidence that Chris Mattes sits at 3rd right now with 66 ground balls on the season, John Ortolani is at 4th with 66 and Tim Fallon is at 10 with 44 loosies to his name.
|John Ortolani||Rochester Rattlers||141-for-285||49.5%|
|Tim Fallon||Charlotte Hounds||117-for-243||48%|
|Chris Mattes||Florida Launch||140-for-298||47%|
Add to that we also got great performances on the year in more limited time from guys like Bobby Datillo, Craig Bunker, Jerry Ragoneese and it tells me that while the face-off is a specialized position in Major League Lacrosse, the talent and depth at the position is greater than we have seen it in a number of years. All three of these guys have shown the qualities that every MLL Coach looks for, hard work, persistence, dedication and the ability to go out there and do the job that you’re asked to. I’m in no way saying that players like Eck, Gurenlian and Kelly are not still at the top of the face-off mountain, because let’s face it they are. However the fact that these other players have stepped up, evolved at the pro level and shown that they can handle the load has been a big factor this season, it has directly resulted in one of the most competitive years in Major League Lacrosse history and is a great sign for the league moving forward from this year.