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Ten Things to Know for Quarterfinal Weekend

TSN, ESPNU Coverage Highlights Saturday Tripleheader in Single-Elimination Round

It took all 135 regular season games to secure the final National Lacrosse League (@NLL) postseason bracket, and the much-awaited playoffs are here. The top eight NLL teams square off in Quarterfinal matchups highlighted by a Saturday tripleheader of action beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Here are 10 things to know about the NLL entering Week 21:

  • Longshot Knighthawks Get Final Spot: Rochester Knighthawks fans couldn’t have felt great about their team’s chances heading into Week 21. After all, the team not only needed to win two games over the weekend (vs. Georgia and Philadelphia), but they also needed three specific outcomes of other games. That translated to a less than 5% chance, but here they are, taking the No. 8 spot in the leadoff match of Saturday’s tripleheader, at No. 1 Toronto (4:30 p.m., TSN, ESPN+)

  • Playing the Fields: Rochester’s unlikely run through the Week 21 scenarios and into the playoffs was fueled in large part by Connor Fields (East Amherst, N.Y.), whose heroics, including 11 goals and five assists in the two wins, are analyzed by Cooper Perkins in this week’s edition of LAXMetrics Powered by the NLL.

  • Statistically Speaking: New York’s Jeff Teat (Brampton, Ont.) secured his second straight goals crown with 58, edging Fields (56) and Buffalo’s Josh Byrne (New Westminster, B.C.) (53). Byrne’s teammate Dhane Smith (Kitchener, Ont.) was the runaway assists champion (101), with Byrne next at 82. Byrne took the points crown by one, 135-134 over Smith, with Teat just behind at 131. Nick Rose (Orangeville, Ont.) dominated the goals against average category, his 9.18 mark besting Rochester’s Rylan Hartley (Toronto) (9.71) and San Diego’s Christopher Origlieri (Orangeville, Ont.) (9.79) by better than half a goal.

  • Looking Ahead: The League will release the semifinal playoff and broadcast schedule on Sunday after the quarterfinal round is completed. The best-of-three series are in a true “bracket style,” with no reseeding, so the winners of the first two Saturday quarterfinal matchups will meet in one series, and the winners of the next two will compete in the other.

  • 15 Teams, Seven Figures: The 2023-24 season was a banner campaign for NLL teams, with close races helping bring even more fans through the turnstiles. The total attendance of 1,060,706 is the second most in the league’s 37-year history, and marks the second straight time the figure has exceeded the 1,000,000 mark.

  • Pick to Win: Fans can play the NLL Playoff Bracket pick ‘em game, through 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, for a chance to win a jersey from their favorite team.

  • Power On…: Fans can use their own calculations to determine their choices in filling out brackets, or they can see how Anna Taylor sees the Power Rankings heading into the playoffs. They don’t exactly match the seeds, as Anna has Buffalo slotted in at #2 and San Diego at #3, Halifax at #4 behind the leader Toronto.

  • Rookie Stars in the Capital Region: Albany’s Alex Simmons (Hamilton, Ont.) set the NLL world on Fire(Wolves) in his rookie campaign, totaling 96 points, trailing only Jeff Teat (108 in 2022) for most points by a rookie. And Simmons and teammate Tye Kurtz (Puslinch, Ont.) combined for 174 points, most ever by a first-year tandem, two more than Randy Staats (Six Nations, Ont.) and Jesse King (Victoria, B.C.) for Georgia in 2016.

  • Youth vs. Experience in Playoffs: Will youth or experience come out on top in the NLL postseason? That’s still to be determined, but if fans want to cast their lot with the former, not surprisingly (see above note), it’s Albany with the youngest current active roster (26 years, 125 days). According to NLL statistics guru Rob Benson, Panther City (27+286, 4th) and Rochester (27+313, 5th) are among the youngest playoff teams, while Toronto (29+224), Buffalo (29+257), Halifax (29+301), Georgia (30+34) and San Diego (30+73) are the five oldest.

  • Indigenous Standouts on Playoff Rosters: The Turtle Island News published this fine roundup of indigenous athletes competing for the eight playoff teams.

Schedule – Quarterfinals (All Times Eastern)

Saturday Tripleheader

  • No. 8 Rochester Knighthawks (8-10) at No. 1 Toronto Rock (15-3), 4:30 p.m., TSN, ESPN+ (Abbott, Gregoire, Docking)
  • No. 5 Georgia Swarm (10-8) at No. 4 Buffalo Bandits (11-7), 7 p.m., ESPNU, ESPN+, TSN+ (Gurtler, Bermel, Buchanan)
  • No. 7 Panther City Lacrosse Club (9-9) at No. 2 San Diego Seals (13-5), 10 p.m., ESPN+, TSN+ (Perkins, Ossello, Michaels

Saturday

  • No. 6 Halifax Thunderbirds (10-8) at No. 3 Albany FireWolves (11-7), 3 p.m., ESPNU, ESPN+, TSN+ (Glasheen, Bahl, Miller)
NLL