Dragons’ mission is simple

Beat L.A.

It’s that simple for the San Francisco Dragons, who apparently didn’t take long to acclimate themselves to the local rivalries here in Bay Area.

The Dragons (6-4) can clinch a spot in the Major League Lacrosse playoffs in their first year of existence with a win over the L.A. Riptide Saturday at 1 p.m. at Kezar Stadium.

With two games remaining in the regular season, L.A. (5-5) must win out to reach the postseason. If San Francisco loses, it would still advance with a win next Saturday over 0-10 Chicago and a Riptide loss to Western Conference-leading

Denver (8-2).

“We’d take a lot of pride in making the playoffs in our first year,” San Francisco midfielder Chris Rotelli said. “We always feel like we have a chip on our shoulder and something to prove, and we know we haven’t done anything yet. Once you get in the playoffs, that’s when it

counts.”

While reaching the postseason is certainly the Dragons first priority, doing it at the expense of L.A. would make it even sweeter.

The Riptide were responsible for the only real rough patch in San Francisco’s season, sweeping a July 22-23 home-and-home series with a 17-10 win in Los Angeles and a 15-11 win the following day in San

Francisco.

The Dragons regained their confidence last weekend with a 14-9 victory at Rochester in which Rotelli scored a hat-trick and fellow midfielder Tom Zummo led all players with five points (two goals, one assist, one two-point goal).

“We were losing the battles in the middle of the field against L.A., and we really worked hard to improve that in practice before the Rochester game,” Zummo said. “I couldn’t be any happier with the say things have gone.”

Both Zummo and Rotelli credited San Francisco goalie Alex Cade with playing a strong game against Rochester, and defense could be the key against L.A.

The Riptide are the only team that has been able to slow San Francisco attacker Ryan Powell in check, holding the league leader in points (54) and goals (33) to just one score in the July 23 game.

Powell had, however, played eight games in the previous 10 days for Team USA in the World Lacrosse Championships (which caused him to miss the July 22 game). A

rested Powell could be tough to stop Saturday.

The home field advantage could also be key. Zummo is one of many Dragons brought up on the lacrosse-crazy East Coast, but has been impressed with the enthusiasm Bay Area fans have brought to the Kezar.

“I’m really happy with the way the fans have responded,” he said. “I’ve never seen so many happy people watching lacrosse.”

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