In their inaugural season last year, the San Francisco Dragons had one of the better offenses in Major League Lacrosse and perhaps the most dangerous player in league history.
In Year 2, the Dragons are hoping a little defense will take them further.
The Dragons will get a stiff test when they open their second season Saturday on the road against the Denver Outlaws at Invesco Field, the same team that eliminated San Francisco in the MLL semifinals 23-14. That came after the Dragons were the only team to beat the Outlaws in the regular season, doing it twice.
“I think both teams will be having some thought of revenge on their mind,” Dragons coach Brian Silcott said. “We beat them at their place a couple of times last season and they handled us pretty good in the semifinals. It’s quickly developed into a pretty nice rivalry, which is great because when we get together, we play really good lacrosse.”
This year, the expectations will be even greater for the Dragons, who will again be led by attackman Ryan Powell, the MLL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year. Powell was second in the league in scoring with 58 points and third with 34 goals and 24 assists, despite missing two games in middle of the season to play with Team USA at the World Championships. He is the MLL’s No. 3 all-time scorer with 292 points in 61 games.
Helping out Powell offensively for the Dragons, who had the league’s No. 2 offense (179 points) behind Denver (192), are talented midfielders Tom Zummo and Chris Rotelli, who combined for 59 points. Also, San Francisco welcomes newcomer Gary Rosyski, a San Jose State alum who has 523 points in 125 career indoorgames, most recently with the San Jose Stealth.
“Gary’s going to be a huge addition for us, he’s a veteran guy, so he’ll know how to help us out offensively,” Silcott said. “Ryan’s the big cog in the machine, but the key for us on offense is to surround him with other options, so opposing defense can’t key in on him. We feel like we have a squad that can produce some balanced scoring.”
Where the Dragons are hoping to make the biggest strides is on the other side of the field. Eric Martin is a lockdown defenseman who will shadow the opposing team’s best offensive threat. Silcott has also been impressed with the play of 6-foot-5 goalie Matt Vallone, who was acquired in an offseason trade from Los Angeles and will be asked to improve a defense that was seventh in the 10-team MLL.
Silcott believes the Dragons’ success hinges on how quickly the team meshes.
“When we play together, we’re pretty hard to beat, when we don’t things fall apart quickly,” Silcott said. “We definitely feel we have the talent and squad to win a championship this year and if we’re all on the same page we know we can beat any team in the league.”
DRAGONS (0-0) vs. OUTLAWS (0-0)
WHEN: Saturday, 6 p.m.
WHERE: Invesco Field, Denver