By Kelly DeStefano | 8/9/12 8:47 AM
ANNAPOLIS, MD - As the Bayhawks head into their final regular season game, all eyes look ahead to championship weekend. On August 25thand 26th, the four top teams in the MLL will battle for the Steinfeld Trophy at Harvard Stadium in Boston, MA. While the playoffs seem to be just around the corner, not every team can book their flights just yet. With a trip to Boston on the line, the results of this weekend’s games will be critical.
The Bayhawks host the Denver Outlaws at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, playing before their home crowd for the last time in 2012. This matchup could be a preview of championship weekend, as Chesapeake and Denver have already earned spots in the playoffs. The Bayhawks were the first team to clinch a playoff berth with their win over the Ohio Machine on July 21st. On August 4th, the Outlaws became only the second team to guarantee themselves a spot in the playoffs when they defeated the Rochester Rattlers. Both teams could be strong contenders at championship weekend. As both Chesapeake and Denver go into their matchup in Annapolis with 10-3 records, this week’s game is a battle for the number one playoff seed.
While Charlotte, Hamilton, and Ohio have already been knocked out of the running, three teams are still in contention to claim the last two playoff spots: the Boston Cannons, the Long Island Lizards, and the Rochester Rattlers. Going into week 14, both Boston and Long Island hold 8-5 records, while Rochester is one game behind at 7-6. Although none of these three teams in the hunt go head to head this weekend, each faces a crucial matchup to earn their trip to championship weekend.
When Boston takes on the Machine in Ohio on Saturday, August 11th, they can clinch a playoff berth with a win. Even if they fall to Ohio, the Cannons still have a chance to play at their home field on championship weekend. With a loss in Ohio, they still get a spot in the playoffs with a Long Island win or a Rochester loss.
The Long Island Lizards travel to Hamilton this Saturday to face the Nationals. They can punch their tickets to the playoffs with a win. In case of a loss, they will still earn a trip to Harvard Stadium with either a Boston loss or a Rochester loss.
The Rochester Rattlers are in the most precarious position as the playoffs approach. They currently sit in fifth place in league standings, while only four teams will make it to championship weekend. On Saturday, the Rattlers head south to Charlotte to play their final regular season game. They need not only a win over the Hounds but also a Long Island loss to clinch a playoff berth. With a loss in Charlotte or a Lizards win in Hamilton, Rochester would be knocked out of playoff contention.
With only one week left of regular season play, the stakes are high for many MLL teams. With their spots in championship weekend already confirmed, Chesapeake and Denver face-off for first place. With trips to Boston up for grabs, Boston, Long Island, and Rochester must battle it out to claim remaining two spots and round out the playoff picture.