The MASL2 North Division playoff picture is complicated, but one thing is clear: A win for your Raptors would really help as we face Rochester on Saturday.
The Lancers 2 come into the PowerHouse at the top of the North Division. With 20 points in the bag and only one loss on the season, they're the current favorites, but a weekend doubleheader in Cedar Rapids could change that in a big way. The last time they were here, the Lancers 2 barely squeaked by your Raptors in overtime, before falling to the Demon Hawks the next day. They'll be facing the same type of hurdle this time, but with a crucial difference: We've seen them before, and so have the Demon Hawks.
It won't be easy, though. Rochester has only one loss and seven wins, with a division-leading +19 goal differential. Their lone loss was here, versus Des Moines, but they downed the Demon Hawks twice back home in Rochester. They play well on both sides of the ball, averaging just over seven points per game while giving up just under five. Their primary goalkeeper, Jakeb Mitchell, leads the entire M2 in goals against average (GAA, 4.00) and save percentage (.800). Offensively, they have several reliable scorers, including M1 veterans Vadim Cojocov and Joey Tavernese. Jake Schindler and Alex Harling lead the team in assists, with 7 and 6 respectively. Schindler is also third in the league in blocked shots, with 11.
Your Raptors come into Saturday's tilt on a high note, having downed our ferocious in-state rivals, the Demon Hawks, last weekend. Still, we've got our work cut out for us. Although we're only a point behind Des Moines and three behind the Lancers, we've been outscored on the year, 65-67, despite scoring a solid 7.2 per game. That's not good enough to take the division; we'll need to light it up going forward. We'll be helped on defense by the return of veteran GK Brett Petricek.
GK Brett Petricek. Photo courtesy of Cedar Rapids Gazette.
Offensively, Jonah Dancer continues his tenure at the top of the team's leader board despite a relatively quiet night vs. Des Moines. He's a sniper, averaging nearly a goal and a half per game, but he's also got a good eye for the open man, with five assists on the season so far. Angelo Oquendo has been even hotter for your Raptors, putting up nine goals and three assists in just four games, en route to a blistering 3 total points per game. Pat Kelly continues his steady production, and he's deadly on the powerplay, where he's tied for the league lead with four goals.
In all, it'll a tough matchup, but one that your Raptors can and should win.
Your Lady Raptors are also in action this weekend, first against Wichita Aero FC tonight at 7pm, then against the Chicago Mustangs on Sunday at noon. It's been a rough inaugural season, as we're currently winless with two games remaining. Your Lady Raptors have played strong, but largely due to our organizational commitment to brining local and Raptors Academy players along, we're a much younger and less experienced team than most of the rest of the league.
"It's an organizational decision," explained Assistant Coach Bobby Hurwitz. "The Raptors are a community institution here in Cedar Rapids. We're the only club in the state that offers the full player progression pyramid for both men's and women's, and we're committed to developing talent at every level. We want to make sure that if you commit to us, we'll give you every chance to play at the highest level."
Madisyn Hunt has been a bright spot on offense, tallying five goals so far. "She's a veteran member of the organization and a good example of the kind of talent we've got in the pipeline," Hurwitz said.
The last meeting vs. Wichita was a loss, but in front of a hometown crowd there's a strong chance for a big win.
Tickets for all Raptors games can be purchased online or at the PowerHouse box office.