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Boston Cannons at New York Lizards Preview

July 11, 2019 - Major League Lacrosse (MLL) News Release

Keys to the game:

Will Greg Puskuldjian be able to take control of the faceoff battle against Kevin Reisman?

Can the New York Lizards attack challenge Nick Marrocco in net or will he have another standout game against the Lizards struggling offense?

Will Rob Pannell be able to regain his clinical shooting form from last year, or will he continue to struggle with inefficiency?

Will the balanced scoring punch of the Cannons continue to be efficient and produce easy shots?

To open Week 7 on Thursday afternoon there will be a rematch of the Cannons and the Lizards played in New York. The matchups in Boston in Week 1 and Week 4 were won by the Cannons 13-12 and 18-11 respectively. This time, the Lizards are looking to bounce back from a loss to Atlanta last weekend and build off a Week 5 win against the Dallas Rattlers who are yet to win a game.

One major key to the game for New York is the Faceoff battle. New York has been the second most successful team this year thus far on Faceoffs (55.4%) behind only Denver (56.4%) and it boasts the most successful Faceoff man this year in Greg Puskuldjian. This year Puskuldjian has won 72 of 119 Faceoffs so far with a Faceoff Win Percentage of 60.5% through the first 6 games of the season. The Cannons Faceoff specialist Kevin Reisman is no slouch with 77 wins in 153 attempts for a Faceoff Win Percentage of 50.3% on Faceoffs through the first 5 games of the Cannons season. Despite Reisman's solid play so far this year Puskuldjian still delivers a unique advantage to the Lizards. Puskuldjian's performance will be essential for to the New York's effort to keep possession as much as possible and limit Boston's opportunities on the offensive end.

Another key to the game is the performance of Nick Marrocco, the goalkeeper for the Boston Cannons. Marrocco has been a wall for much of the season thus far posting a 53.8% save percentage through Boston's first 5 contests. Last week Marrocco had a standout game against the struggling Dallas Rattlers offense saving 17 shots and only allowing 11 goals. If Marrocco saves more shots than goals he allows it will likely be enough for the Cannons to win given the Lizards struggles scoring thus far this year (26.4% Shot Percentage).

Although the Lizards have struggled on offense this year, their offensive statistics have been normalizing to the mean. The big issue for the Lizards has been that Rob Pannell, the star of the team, has struggled this year with shot accuracy posting a 42.4% Shot on Goal Percentage. Among MLL players who have shot at least 30 shots the only player who has posted a lower Shot on Goal Percentage this year is Mikie Schlosser posting a 37.8% so far this year. This is problematic because Pannell is an attackman who plays behind the net and around the crease while Schlosser is a midfielder who shoots from outside.

If Rob Pannell can bounce back from his early season struggles, the New York Lizards offense could look completely different. With ancillary options like Kevin Crowley, Dylan Molloy, Nick Aponte, and Mark Matthews available for the Lizards offense, an in-form Pannell could attract enough defensive attention to open up the Lizards' offensive spacing and thus the effectiveness of the Lizards attack.

This year, in contrast to the Lizards, the Cannons have had the most clinical offense in the MLL posting a 37.5% Shot Percentage and a 64.9% Shot on Goal Percentage which both lead the league. This ability of the Cannons to make their shots count has come from a balanced attack led by Mark Cockerton and Zed Williams and supplemented by Kyle Jackson, Will Sands, Connor O'Hara, and Challen Rodgers. If the Cannons continue to move the ball well and get all their key scorers involved, they should be able to take advantage of Austin Kaut, the Lizards goalkeeper who has had an up and down season posting a 48.9% Save Percentage thus far this year.

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