Game 1 – Cyclones 13, Singha 1
Singha drew the three-time defending league champions, who have never lost a Box Lacrosse League games, in their opening match. With the odds already stacked against them, Singha took the field without goalkeeper Voggesser. Despite never playing goalkeeper, Thompson stepped up and filled in. Overall, he did an admirable job. Many times he made saves that by all rights should have gone in.
Though the score line is not too different from last year’s meeting between Singha’s previous incarnation and the Cyclones, the overall play of Singha noticeably improved. Robbins’ play has jumped a couple of levels since the spring. In addition to a goal by Charles love, his dad (aka Doc) almost scored. Dowd, Benson, and myself also had a few good looks.
Preventing those goals was Valley alum Hunter Couch. Couch was as solid as ever, denying balls that most keepers would let by. His focus and communication anchored an otherwise erratic defense and encouraged the offense to take greater risks.
Offensively the Cyclones had tremendous ball movement – even better than last season. Passes looked instinctual and shots were taken with time and care. The overall trust between the players was demonstrated every time they were in possession. If the team could translate this to their field play, they would make progress in the UMLL…
After this game, we know that the Cyclones plan to stay on top of the league but they are not invulnerable. Singha demonstrated significant improvement, ball control, and ball movement. Last year’s primary scorer, Fay, was absent; his return should help increase Singha’s offensive potency.
Game 2 – Macaques 8, Tropics 8
Another team missing its starting keeper, the Macaques took the field with Hanks in the cage. Nearly eight years have passed since Hanks stepped into a crease… From his ability to read shots and make key saves, he looked comfortable in front of the cage. On the other side of the field, Valley’s sophomore goalie Marcum played his first ever box game. Marcum adjusted to the bulky pads and his quick feet and ability to intuit trajectory served him well throughout the night.
The Tropics focused much of their defensive attention on Clark, which left Woodcock, Nye, and Lowe unguarded. Despite their familiarity with Lowe as a teammate, the Tropics underestimated him several times and he exploited the opportunities. Blay used his physicality to his advantage throughout the night by causing turnovers and preventing shooters from getting too close to Hanks.
The Macaques had a much more difficult time identifying a single shooter withing the Tropics’ ranks. Early focus went to Griess and Arends only to have McEntee – a d-pole by trade – hit the back of the net on more than on occasion. Being a fairly tight knit group, communication was extremely strong which resulted in great ball movement and consistent defense.
Goals were fairly tit-for-tat all night. Lead changes were constant until the Tropics pulled ahead by a pair late in the third. With less than four minutes remaining, the Macaques pulled within one. In the final minute, Clark snatched a ground ball following a Woodcock check and tied the game. Arends nearly grabbed the game winner in the final ten seconds. With fewer in game delays, a two minute sudden death period was added this season. Unfortunately neither team could find the back of the net before time ran out.^
The Macaques are anticipating a few of their absent players to be in attendance next week. With a little more depth, the team will not get as gassed and should make a formidable opponent for the Cyclones. The Tropics also look to have the gusto make a run at the defending champions. Their two physical players, Mundus and Halder, were absent last night. Whether their fearlessness and willingness for rough-and-tumble play will make an impact against the speedy Cyclones remains to be seen.
Next week the Macaques look to rip the wind out of the Cyclones in the first game. Game two sees Singha determined to notch an early win over the Tropics in order to prevent the slide that afflicted the team (as the Tigers) last season.
^The Championship game will have three minute sudden death periods and will not end in a tie.