On September 21st, 2019, the New York Lizards completed their Major League Lacrosse season with a 21-15 win over the Atlanta Blaze at Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium. The 5,747 fans didn’t know it at the time, but it would be the last time that they would ever see the Lizards in person. Because of COVID-19, the 2020 MLL season was played in a bubble in Annapolis, Maryland and then the merger between the Premier Lacrosse League and Major League Lacrosse put an end to the MLL after a 20 year run. As part of the merger, the PLL now has the rights to the MLL team names and the league with a tour-based model added the “Cannons” without “Boston” as an expansion team for this season. For now, the Lizards are no more but perhaps somewhere down the road, the PLL will bring them back as an expansion team.
(Chrome face-off specialist Connor Farrell)
But for the moment, Lizards fans and lacrosse fans all over Long Island and the New York metropolitan area are enjoying what the Premier Lacrosse League has to offer with the best players in the world playing under one umbrella and taking their talents all over the country to markets that love their lacrosse. That includes Long Island where the PLL is playing this weekend at Shuart Stadium, the long-time home of the Lizards. The weekend began on Friday night with the Chrome Lacrosse Club, including face-off specialist and Long Island native Connor Farrell upsetting fellow Long Islander Tom Schreiber and the previously unbeaten Archers Lacrosse Club 8-7 in front of a very enthusiastic crowd filled with jerseys, t-shirts and other gear from both teams but mainly with either “Schreiber 26″ or “Farrell 25” on the backs.
(Tom Schreiber of the Archers)
Now in it’s third season, the Premier Lacrosse League has been able to grow the interest in the sport of lacrosse through the marketing of it’s great players including league co-founder and former Lizard Paul Rabil as well as the likes of names like Schreiber, Farrell, former Lizards Rob Pannell and Will Many along with stars like Jordan Wolf, Blaze Riorden, Zed Williams and Matt Rambo. But as of now, the teams don’t belong to individual markets. As part of the tour-based model, all of the teams go to one city each weekend for a schedule of games, but the plan at some point is to assign teams to their own markets. Given how popular the sport of lacrosse is on Long Island and the history of pro lacrosse including the Lizards and their three MLL championships, the hope is that the PLL places a team there and it would be appropriate if they brought back the Lizards name.
There was plenty of PLL merchandise available at the souvenir stands on Friday night and there were a lot of fans who immediately put the gear on or already had the apparel when they arrived at Shuart Stadium. Sprinkled among the thousands of fans on hand were those who wore New York Lizards gear. I was one of them. It was great to have pro lacrosse back on Long Island and to be able to cheer on some of the best players in the world including some local heroes, but there’s still something missing.
There are more PLL games at Shuart Stadium this weekend but this is the league’s only weekend on Long Island this season. The next time that Long Island lacrosse fans will see professional lacrosse will be this December for the National Lacrosse League’s New York Riptide returns to the Nassau Coliseum, but the next time there is pro outdoor lacrosse on Long Island will likely be during the 2022 PLL season. Long Island is missing a pro outdoor team of it’s own. We miss the Lizards. When the time is right for the Premier Lacrosse League to get away from their tour-based model and give towns, cities and communities their own teams, one of those decisions should be a no-brainer….bring back the New York Lizards.