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Lizards beat Machine to help playoff positioning

Lizards' JoJo Marasco and Rob Pannell celebrate Marasco's

Lizards' JoJo Marasco and Rob Pannell celebrate Marasco's goal against the Ohio Machine on Saturday, June 28, 2014. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

In the thick of the playoff hunt, the Lizards gave what is probably their best performance of the season Saturday night.

Drew Adams made 16 saves and JoJo Marasco scored five goals to lead the Lizards to a 19-13 win over the Ohio Machine at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium.

The six-goal win was the largest margin of victory this season for the Lizards (5-4), who went on a 5-0 run in the game's final 8:34 to break a tie at 13.

"We played team lacrosse," Lizards coach Joe Spallina said. "We had some beautiful goals. Things we haven't done all season, we did tonight. The guys started seeing how easy the game can become when they're moving the ball around and getting other guys involved."

The Lizards' 19 goals scored marked their highest scoring game this season, and the team's six assists tied a season-high.

The Lizards took an 8-4 lead into halftime, and finished the first half on an 8-2 run after Ohio scored the game's first two goals. Marasco's three first-half goals keyed the effort.

"I felt comfortable, I shot the ball well," said Marasco, who scored a brilliant goal to give the Lizards their first lead of the game with 3:36 left in the first quarter.

Marasco received a pass at the top of the arc, split two defenders and fired a behind-the-back shot to score to make it 3-2.

"You practice that all your life and to finally get the opportunity to do it is something special," he said.

Marasco said he was hopeful Saturday's game would spark the Lizards offense for the rest of the season, given their talent in attack. "[Michael] Kimmel [who was acquired in a midweek trade] is such a good pickup for us. Ned Crotty, when he gets going, you can't stop him. If we can get the ball to Rob Pannell, who's the best player in the game right now, and get that going, we're going to roll."

The Lizards effort on the defensive end was also vital to the win, containing an Ohio offense that came into Saturday averaging a league-high 13.3 goals per game.

"We have the talent to keep anyone in check," Adams said. "There were a few instances tonight where they made their runs, which is going to happen when they're that talented. But we had a game plan coming in and we executed it and I'm happy with the way the guys played."

Pannell scored two goals and had two assists for the Lizards to extend his team-leading points total to 35, which is third in Major League Lacrosse. Kyle Hartzell added three goals, including a two-pointer, and Tommy Palasek had three goals and an assist.

Peter Baum scored five goals for Ohio, which fell to 3-6.

Results elsewhere in MLL went in the Lizards' favor Saturday, as both Boston and Florida lost, giving New York sole possession of third place, with five games remaining. The Lizards host Florida Thursday.

Four out of the eight teams in the league qualify for the playoffs, but Adams said those other results would not change the team's focus.

"Whatever everyone else does around the league doesn't mean anything to us if we don't win," he said. "At the end of the day, we worry just about ourselves."

Still, if Saturday's performance was any indication of what is to come, the rest of the league will have to worry about the Lizards.

New York Sports