The Florida Launch fell Saturday night 22-10 to the Atlanta Blaze at FAU Stadium. The loss marks the fifth straight for the Launch as they fall to 0-5 to open the 2016 MLL season. Kieran McArdle and Lyle Thompson had a goal and an assist each to the lead the home team.
With faceoff starter Chris Mattes a scratch for the contest, backup John Ortolani took over at the X. Absences were a big part of the Launch’s rough outing considering the injury riddled roster. Ken Clausen, Owen Blye, and Cameron Lao-Gosney are currently on injured reserve, leaving the coaching staff to make adjustments on both sides of the field.
Kieran McArdle opened scoring a minute into the game but it would prove to be the only score of the quarter for the Launch. The Blaze went on a six goal run to leave the Launch scoreless for the remainder of the first period. Florida was unable to convert on a powerplay opportunity as the score was 6-1 heading into the second quarter.
The Atlanta run was kept alive early in the second quarter with the Blaze adding on two more goals. The Launch snapped the run with Connor Buczek tallying his first of the night. Two more goals from the visiting side came soon after before Buczek was able to strike again. The middie nailed a two-pointer, his second of the year, but it was the last of the half for the home team. The Blaze rattled off a pair of two-pointers and a goal to go up 15-4 at the half.
After the break, things began to look up for the Launch with Roman Lao-Gosney scoring his only goal of the game. Miles Thompson grabbed his lone score of the night soon after to extend the scoring run. The third quarter was quiet offensively for both clubs with the Launch outscoring the Blaze 3-1. The score stood at 16-7 heading into the final period of play.
The fourth quarter showed much of the same offensive production for the Blaze with the visitors maintaining and extending their lead throughout the final period. After a three goal streak for the Blaze, PT Ricci gave the Launch its first of the quarter. Atlanta was hot from behind the two-point line all night as they tossed in another from long-range. The Launch fought hard all night despite the score, Nikko
Pontrello and Lyle Thompson each notched one of their own before Atlanta closed out the game with another goal.
After an 0-5 start to the season, Florida Head Coach Stan Ross sees a lot of room for improvement with the talented roster. “We have to find a way to get both sides of the ball playing together as a team. We have a lot of really good individuals but I’m not sure how good of a team we are right now,” Ross said after the game.
The Launch get two weeks off before a home matchup against current MLL leaders, the Ohio Machine. The Machine won the last meeting in a tight 14-12 season opener in Boca Raton. The bye week should give Florida ample time to get players back from other engagements and injury as the new additions settle in to the team’s gameplan.