By Sean Connolly
It’s finally here…the playoffs. We’ve waited all season for this weekend and it has been worth the wait after one of the most exciting seasons in history. The playoffs will take place in Harvard Stadium in Boston Massachusetts and will be the home of two great semifinal games and a final that decides it all. In the first semifinal there’s the Rochester Rattlers against the Philadelphia Barrage and on the Western side of things we’ve got the Denver Outlaws pitted against the Los Angeles Riptide. With that said, let’s get down to my predictions of who’s gonna win this thing!
Rochester Rattlers vs. Philadelphia Barrage: Winner-Rochester Rattlers
It’s simple really…John Grant Jr. I’ve been talking Grant up all season as the best in the game and on Thursday the MLL validated that talk by giving Grant the MLL MVP for the second season in a row. The Rattlers are the number one seeded team overall with their 9-3 record and haven’t shown many signs of letting up this entire season. As for the Philadelphia Barrage, they come in as the weak link in this Championship weekend as the fourth seed with a record of 7-5.
The focus will lie solely on John Grant Jr. for the Barrage and expect all-star Brodie Merrill to step up big time. The lingering problem for the Rattlers though is their goalie Mike Levin, who has looked very shaky in net for the last couple of weeks. The best opportunity for Jed Prossner and the Barrage to win is to actually get in a shootout with the Rattlers and hope that Brian Dougherty can get his act together and hold down this Rattler attack. I don’t think it’s possible for the Barrage to win as they are over-matched in every aspect, so expect a comfortable win for the Rattlers.
Denver Outlaws vs. Los Angeles Riptide: Winner- Los Angeles Riptide
The Riptide!?! Yes, I said it, the Riptide will win. The Riptide come into this weekend playing their best lacrosse of the season after winning 6 of their last 8. Winning streaks tend to carry over into the playoffs and I think the 7-5 Riptide have what it takes to take down the more powerful 8-4 Outlaws. The Riptide have the MLL Goalie of the Year in Mickey Jarboe who’s GAA is down to 12.75 which ranked first in the league.
With a solid guy in the net they also have three guys who seem unstoppable at times. Jesse Hubbard, Kyle Harrison, and Kevin Huntley are all completely different players but their style mix well together. Jesse Hubbard is the MLL’s all-time leading goal scorer so expect his veteran play to shine this weekend. As for the Outlaws, Brian Langtry is of course the key. But, in the one loss they had this season against L.A. Langtry was held to one assist. The Riptide know how to shut down Langtry and expect them to do it again this weekend.