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Sunny,78°
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Playoffs a goal for Lizards
Win third straight; 5-0 at home
Jeff Wilson/Herald
The Lizards' Kyle Hartzell, center, sliced through Florida's Peter Ricci, right, and Stephen Keogh, during the team's 20-11 victory on July 3.

As the Major League Lacrosse season enters the stretch run, the New York Lizards continue to pursue a coveted playoff spot after missing the postseason in 2013.

The Lizards’ playoff push strengthened July 3 with a convincing 20-11 victory over the Florida Launch at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium in a game delayed more than two hours by weather conditions. Tommy Palasek had five goals, and Rob Pannell added four goals and four assists to lead the Lizards, who won their third in a row to improve to 6-4 with four games remaining.

“We’ve been playing great team lacrosse,” Lizards head coach Joe Spallina said. “We had 11 assisted goals tonight. The talent level has never been in question and we’re starting to build some steam. We just want to keep getting better.”

The win capped a perfect three-game homestand that included wins over the Charlotte Hounds and Ohio Machine. Pannell scored six goals — all unassisted — to lead a 14-12 victory over Charlotte on June 21. A week later, the Lizards beat the Machine, 19-13, in a game co-sponsored by Herald Community Newspapers. They closed with six unanswered goals over the final 8:34. JoJo Marasco scored five times, while goaltender Drew Adams made 16 saves against the league’s top-scoring club.

“We’re 5-0 at home,” Spallina said. “The crowds have been outstanding and it’s great to give the fans something to cheer about.”

The ultra-talented and dangerous Pannell, last year’s MLL Rookie of the Year who had 25 goals and 17 assists in 10 games, is once again leading the offense. His team-high 27 goals and 16 assists ranked him third in the league in scoring heading into this week’s action. Over the last four games, Pannell has poured in 16 goals and assisted on eight others.

“Rob’s been great, and his best two games have been his last two games,” Spallina said of Pannell, who was named Coca-Cola All-Star Game MVP last month after scoring the winning goal with seven seconds remaining to give Team USA a 10-9 victory over Team MLL.

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