Mired in a three-way tie for second-to-last in the Major League Lacrosse standings entering play Thursday, the Lizards made the type of move ahead of the trade deadline that could jump-start the organization.
At 3-5, consistency has been something of a foreign concept. But in adding St. Anthony’s High School graduates Will Manny and Joe LoCascio, the Lizards have taken the necessary steps to improve.
In a deal that came together shortly before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline, the Lizards acquired Manny, an attack from Massapequa, and LoCascio, a midfielder from Lindenhurst, from the Boston Cannons (3-6) in exchange for midfielders Dave Lawson and Chris LaPierre.
Manny, who led Boston with 30 points through nine games, said he was shocked to receive the phone call from Cannons general manager Kevin Barney 10 minutes before the deadline.
“It was honestly a very vague situation because I was pretty bummed and pretty upset, but they said a lot teams were fishing to trade for me before the deadline this year,” said Manny, who is in his fifth season after playing collegiately at the University of Massachusetts.
LoCascio, a breakout middie this season with 13 points in four games, expressed similar surprise and said that much of his discontent comes from an unexplained benching in Boston’s last two games.
“Obviously, I was totally thrown off guard,” LoCascio said. “I was taken out of the lineup for virtually no real reason, so I couldn’t quite figure that part out. But I am having a pretty good year.”
The trade paid instant dividends.
LoCascio scored the winning two-point goal Thursday night as the Lizards beat the first-place Ohio Machine, 15-14, at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium. Manny scored five goals in the game, and LoCascio had three.
LoCascio said he’s excited to act as a “glue guy” for the Lizards.
“It’s my hometown; it’s my home city,” he said after the trade. “My uncle, Sal LoCascio, played for the Lizards in their inaugural season. I grew up around the locker room, and I grew up going to the games.”
A team with talented individual playmakers on offense, the Lizards have yet to fully mesh into the dynamic unit that coach and general manager Joe Spallina hoped he’d have.
Manny and LoCascio add even more firepower to a unit including Paul Rabil, Joe Walters and Rob Pannell.
The Lizards are 4-5 after Thursday night’s win. The rest of the MLL is so bunched together that even a short winning streak could put the Lizards in the thick of a playoff run.
Despite excelling in Boston as one of the primary ballcarriers, Manny said he’s prepared to play off the ball and capitalize when fed by his teammates.
“This offense, I have good connections with those guys,” said Manny, who has played at various levels with Rabil and Pannell. “I’m just going to play my role. I don’t need to be a ballcarrier on this team. I’m just going to get open.”
LoCascio will presumably fill one of the holes in the midfield created by trading Lawson and LaPierre.
“Growing up, you want to play for the Lizards,” LoCascio said. “Now my home games are virtually right around the corner, and that’s something that is lucky for me.”