Guest Column: Southwest Beater Analysis


Credit: Ben Holland

Credit: Ben Holland

Round three of the East Division games kicks off this weekend as the Washington Admirals host the Boston Night Riders. The match will go a long way in determining how the division shapes up going into the MLQ Championship, as a Boston victory, combined with a sweep of Ottawa by New York, will leave New York and Boston playing for first and Washington and Ottawa playing for third, while a Washington win would blow things wide open. But even a single upset victory for the Admirals could almost lock up third place in the division headed into the team’s final match of the season.

Unfortunately for the underdog home side, the key missing players for the match all reside on their side of the pitch. Max Miceli is the team’s central offensive creator, while Ricky Nelson was the driving force of the team’s come-from-behind win over New York, but neither will be present, putting more pressure on one of the league’s shallowest rosters. Any Admirals upset is going to require near-perfect execution on that side of the ball.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Key Matchup: Darren Creary vs. Boston Coverage
Washington had two modes of offense against New York. One was Miceli weaving through defenses to either take a shot or dish to the open man. The other was to throw it up behind the hoops to Creary and laugh at the Titans’ quaffle players complete inability to do anything about it. With Miceli out this weekend, the reliance on Creary will get even heavier. And, if the team can manage to find another ball carrier to pass to him, stopping Creary will be priority number one in shutting down the Washington offense for Boston. Look for David Fox, Boston’s tallest player, to draw the majority of the assignments on Creary, but also for the Night Riders to mix in some double teams and shade some beaters to his side of the offensive zone. Any Washington upset is, to some degree, going to go through Creary – he scored four goals and caught the snitch in the team’s win over New York – and if Boston can take him out of the game offensively, it’ll go a long way in securing a sweep.

Key Players: Kyle Bullins
Bullins returns to the lineup for the Admirals this match, and with Nelson out this weekend, will provide the majority of the punch – and play the majority of the minutes – in the Washington beater game. Bullins was unstoppable at times this season for the University of North Carolina, and he’s going to need to take over a game in the way we sometimes saw at World Cup 8 if Washington hopes to steal one. But he also has to do it in his first competitive action in three months while maintaining his energy levels in the heat and humidity of the Washington D.C. summer. If he tires, it could lead to him becoming overly reliant on long beats, which can lead to crucial mistakes. It could also lead to him ending up out of position against a few of the deadly Night Rider fast breaks. But if he can pull all of that off, while maintaining an edge in the beater game – as parity likely won’t be enough – the Admirals might just have a shot.

Prediction: Boston 3-0
Without Miceli, this matchup is simply too much of a hill to climb for the home team. In their upset victory over New York, Washington took advantage of some sloppy play from a Titans team playing its first-ever game, but the Night Riders looked like one of the league’s most-composed teams as it pounded the Black Bears. And even if Washington manages to keep one of the three games in range, Harry Greenhouse and the Boston beaters will be heavily favored. The Admirals won’t be blown away like Ottawa, but expect Washington to be headed for its final series of its regular season with a 1-5 record that is seriously unrepresentative of their play to this point.







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