The Florida Launch look for revenge as the first week of Major League Lacrosse is upon us! Sunday, April 22 at 2 PM EST the Launch will face-off against southern foe, Atlanta Blaze.
The 2018 squad is looking to burst into Fifth Third Bank Stadium with a powerful returning attack unit and solid defensive players to protect the league leader in saves last season, Austin Kaut. The Launch return the entire coaching staff and 18 players from last season, including MLL Defenseman of the Year Tucker Durkin, Rookie of the Year nominee Dylan Molloy and experienced veterans Steven Brooks, Mike Unterstein, and Martin Bowes.
Sights on Revenge
One major motivating force this first game of the season will be the bad taste left from the last time Florida came into Fifth Third Bank Stadium in 2017. The team went scoreless in the second half of the game, and only produced four goals on the night, while the Blaze exploded for 17.
The Launch will also look to start off hot and bounce back after ending last season one step short of the MLL Championship Game. In that game, Connor Buczek scored a game high 6 points, while Kieran McArdle and Dylan Molloy added five each.
Another plot story for this game is how two key players will perform against their former teammates. One familiar face missing from the Launch sideline is LSM Liam Byrnes, who will be on the field for the Blaze this season. In March, the three-year pro was traded to Atlanta for two additional Collegiate Draft picks (11 and 24). Similarly, a new member to the Florida bench is attackman Tom Moore out of Binghamton University. The lefty scoring threat comes to the Launch as Coach Tom Mariano’s first pick in the 2018 Supplemental Draft. After spending last season with the Blaze, playing in four games, Moore aims to score big against his former teammates on Sunday.
Players to Watch
Dylan Molloy (A) – 21G, 6A last season, recorded five points in the Launch’s first-ever playoff game (4G,1A), 3x Cascade Rookie of the Week in 2017, 2016 Tewaaraton winner.
Austin Kaut (G) – League leader in saves last season (256), ranked second in the league in save percentage (.566), first in franchise history with 484 career saves, 4x All-American at Penn State.
Tucker Durkin (D) – 2017 MLL Defenseman of the Year, 2x Florida Launch captain, 5x 1 st Team MLL All-Pro (2013-2017), member of Team USA competing in 2018 FIL World Championships this summer.
Connor Buczek (M) – 30 points scored last season (20G, 6A, 4- 2point goals), lead scorer in the 2017 playoff game (2G, 4A).
Offensive coach, Brian Duncan noted, “We’re going in with a really strong roster and we’d like to go up there, give them a game and come out with a win.” And even though this season aims to be the best in the franchise’s five-year history and the coaching staff has instilled a championship mentality in the team, Duncan stated, “Our only focus now is to take care of week 1.”
Catch all the action Sunday April 22, at 2 PM LIVE on Lax Sports Network! Watch on laxsn.com and any screen with the LSN app!
And follow our social media accounts for a behind the scenes look into what our players are doing all weekend long in preparation for the first game of the 2018 season!
GEAR UP for our home opener next weekend at FAU Stadium! Get all your 2018 apparel HERE at our shop!