MORRISTOWN, NJ – Have you heard about Morristown’s newest sports team?
The Morristown Rally of the Interstate Box Lacrosse Association is off to a 2-1 start, following a split between the Philadelphia Phunk and the Long Island Sharks in the team’s first home games at Mennen Sports Arena over the weekend.
With players from all over making up the roster, the Morristown Rally has been a treat for local fans getting their first new look at an indoor, arena version of lacrosse. With a fast pace and a 30-second shot clock, there is a lot of action and the players are able to showcase their physicality. With three periods of 20-minute durations, there is an opportunity to score a ton of goals.
The Rally started its practices at the end of June. It went on to beat the Long Island Sharks in the season opener by a 7-5 score. Against Philadelphia in the home opener this past Saturday, Morristown prevailed 12-8. The team suffered its first loss in a rematch with the Sharks in a dramatic finish, 12-11, on Sunday evening.
“The season has been going well overall,” said Rally head coach Bryan Levine following the loss to the Sharks on Sunday. “Today we started off a little bit slow. We fought back and we lost by one. We’re disappointed, but we’re still 2-1.”
Against Long Island, Morristown found itself in a 7-2 hole early in the second period. Morristown put together five straight goals to make it a 7-7 game before Long Island answered to go into the locker room with an 8-7 lead at the end of two.
Morristown got to within 9-8 before Long Island answered quickly and went ahead by two goals for the second time in the period.
The Rally tied the game at 11-11 with 4:12 remaining, leading to a Sharks timeout. While both teams had chances, Long Island ultimately put in the game-winning goal with 1:20 to go.
The skill level in the IBLA is top notch, according to Levine.
“It’s fun to watch and the skill level is at the next level,” he said. “Think of basketball and hockey with lacrosse sticks. With more people out here it’s going to be real interesting how this all ends up.”
Players range from 18 years old and up and come from all over – Canada, Connecticut, New York and then some are right there in Morris County.
Following a six-game regular season, Morristown will gear up for a two-game playoff. If the Rally wins the playoff, it will head to California for the 2019 IBLA National Championships.
Griffin Thomas, a lacrosse player at Yale, is new to the box version of the sport.
“It’s fast-paced and it tunes up my ground ball skills in close quarters,” he said. “I like it because it’s so physical. Everyone is just trying to end your life in the corners, right behind the goal, right around the crease. It toughens you up for the field, because when you get to the field nobody is going to be used to this. I’m trying to keep my skills up, my quickness up while we do our offseason lifting program. I’m just going to have a leg up against people with stick skills.”
Thomas said that everyone takes the league very seriously, especially with how far some travel for the games.
“This is not like a normal men’s league – we all want to win,” he said. “We’re ready to get after it next week.”