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Lizards expect physical championship game against Rochester

Paul Rabil #99 of the New York Lizards

Paul Rabil #99 of the New York Lizards huddles up with teammates before taking on the Boston Cannons at James M. Shuart Stadium on Aug. 1, 2015 in Hempstead. Credit: Getty Images / Adam Hunger

Paul Rabil has something the Lizards want: a Major League Lacrosse championship.

The star midfielder, who came to the Lizards last offseason from the Boston Cannons, won the Steinfeld Cup with his former team in 2011. He'll get a chance to help the Lizards win franchise title No. 3 Saturday against the Rochester Rattlers in Kennesaw, Georgia, near Atlanta.

"The ultimate accomplishment you can have in your sport is winning the league title," Rabil said. "It was a great sense of team camaraderie and accomplishing the goal you set out for, physically and mentally. We're hoping to put ourselves in the best position to experience that this coming weekend."

The Lizards advanced to the MLL championship game by beating the Cannons, 16-15, in overtime Saturday. Rabil scored twice against his former team and set up the winning goal.

Rabil had 55 points on 29 goals during the regular season, which has been a roller coaster for the Lizards. The team got off to an 8-0 start before finishing 2-4. Rabil missed losses on June 20 and June 26 with a lower body injury.

Coach Joe Spallina said playoff lacrosse is an entirely different game and expects his team to be focused against the 8-6 Rattlers.

"It's the finality of every play, every moment," Spallina said. "You have the best players in the world just emptying their tanks and giving everything they've got. There's no tomorrow, so you've got guys playing at a different gear."

The Rattlers beat the Ohio Machine, 12-8, Saturday. They are led by attack Jordan Wolf (61 points on 37 goals) and goalie John Galloway, who is 7-6 with 186 saves on the year.

Spallina said the Rattlers are a much different and improved team since the Lizards beat them twice in April.

"They play a different kind of style, a more Canadian style with a lot of pick and roll," Spallina said. "I think we're going to do a real good job controlling the faceoffs and we have a lot of offense. Rochester's known to be very tough and we think that's the way we play, as well."

Lizards goalie Drew Adams hasn't won an MLL title, but said it's "the reason we all play." He believes the players will cement their legacies with a win over the Rattlers.

"You can accomplish a lot throughout a career, but you're really defined by the championships that you win," Adams said. "There's a mix on our team. There's a group of guys that have won before and a group of guys that haven't. Winning a championship would be something to look back on and say you were the best."


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