The final week of the regular season is upon us, which means two more installments of Merlin’s Picks! As I did last year, I will be doing my playoff picks (with Hannah of course) via YouTube, so be on the lookout for that. Last week I went 6-1, while Hannah went 5-2. The last week does provide some excitement with division and playoff implications still up in the air so let’s get picking!

FRIDAY 4/12:

UTICA over Orlando: The playoff schedule is already set in the Eastern Division, with Utica City taking on Baltimore. But, the Eastern Division title is still up for grabs, and with a win, Utica would dethrone the Blast for the first time in nine years. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but as a Silver Knights fan, winning the division from Baltimore would be huge, not only for Utica, but for Central New York in general. Now, back to the game at hand. These teams have met once before this season, a 10-6 victory for Utica at home, back on January 27th. In that game, Utica fell behind early, but gained momentum in the second half, holding the SeaWolves to one goal in the final 30 minutes. Over the last few weeks, Utica City has played without their top three players, in Slavisa Ubiparipovic, Joey Tavernese, and Bo Jelovac. I suspect Slav and Joey will be on the sidelines once again for this game. But, without those three, they are still the soon to be Eastern Division champions, as they will clamp down on Orlando, and win 6-3. HANNAH’S PICK: So, according to Hannah, if Utica wins on Friday, she would have a party with everyone. There you go guys! Make it happen!

EL PASO over Rio Grande Valley: It’s the last week of the season, so let’s make some upsets! First up, the Coyotes take on the Barracudas at home. Rio Grande Valley lost a heartbreaker in overtime, 6-5 to the streaking San Diego Sockers. I’m going to chalk this loss up to tired legs towards the end, as the Barracudas played Turlock two nights prior. That shouldn’t take anything away from San Diego, as they fought their way back once again from the jaws of defeat, to take their winning streak to 20. El Paso’s last game was back on March 31st, an 8-4 road defeat at the hands of the Dallas Sidekicks. This is the final game of the season for El Paso, so expect the Coyotes to give everything they have for their fans. The Barracudas have nothing to play for at this point, so key players should be resting. I like El Paso in this one, with the final score being 7-5. HANNAH’S PICK: Rio Grande Valley for Hannah.

TACOMA over Turlock: If you were to look up the word confused in the dictionary, you will see a picture of me, trying to predict a game Tacoma is in. Where do I begin? The Stars had a chance to control their own destiny this weekend, by sweeping their weekend games against the Sidekicks and Flash. On Saturday, they had a great first half, and beat the Sidekicks on the road 7-4. On Sunday, they had a great first half, then got outscored 8-2 in the second half by Monterrey, losing 9-5. Now this sets up a fun weekend in the Pacific Division, with Tacoma needing the victory in Turlock to have a chance at the second playoff spot. The Express love playing at home, making games very interesting, so they COULD play spoiler in this one. One key for Turlock will be to contain MVP candidate Nick Perera, who scored four out of the five goals for Tacoma on Sunday against Monterrey. I see Tacoma pulling up their socks, going into Turlock, and taking the W, 7-4. HANNAH’S PICK: Hannah also likes the Stars in this game!


ORLANDO over Florida: The final installment of the I-4 rivalry will take place on Saturday as the Tropics head to Orlando to face the SeaWolves. For this game, I’m throwing the whole “they played the night before” theory out the window. This is a RIVALRY. So far, the SeaWolves lead the series 3-2, and 4-2 sounds a lot better than 3-3. The Tropics come into this game on the heels of a 4-2 loss against the Baltimore Blast. I, like most Utica City fans, watched this game with the hopes of a Tropics win. They hung tough with the playoff bound Blast, but ultimately fell short. Both teams want to end their season on a high note, and I see Orlando winning this game on the pitch (get it… high note… pitch…). Orlando 8, Florida 5. HANNAH’S PICK: It’s not Orlando’s week according to Hannah. She’s taking the Tropics.

DALLAS over Rio Grande Valley: My analysis for this game is very similar to the El Paso/RGV game. Dallas is playing this game at home, while RGV will be resting players for its playoff match-up against Monterrey. The Sidekicks take the W, 6-5. HANNAH’S PICK: On the other hand, she likes RGV to sweep this weekend. She’s taking the Barracudas.

MONTERREY over San Diego: In a possible Western Conference final match-up, the Flash travel to San Diego to face the Sockers. On Sunday, the Sockers gained home field advantage throughout the playoffs by edging Rio Grande Valley in overtime. So, this game has zero impact, in my opinion. I’m sure the game will be entertaining, as all of the games this season have been, but it will lose its luster when key players for both teams will be sitting this one out. This will be the first game of a back-to-back for Monterrey, with the chance of playing spoiler the next night in Ontario. I’m going to pick another upset as the Flash sends a message to the Sockers, letting them know it won’t be an easy road to the final. Monterrey 7, San Diego 6. HANNAH’S PICK: Another disagreement as she’s taking the Carmen Sandiego Sockers (her exact words).

SUNDAY 4/14:

MILWAUKEE over Kansas City: In a playoff preview, the Comets face the Wave. Four days after this game, Game 1 of the South Central Division playoffs take place in Kansas City. This game, once again, has zero impact, as players will be resting before their Thursday evening tilt at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. I like the depth of Milwaukee, so I will take them, in a low scoring affair, 5-2. HANNAH’S PICK: ‘Waukee Wave.

ONTARIO over Monterrey: In the “Game Of The Week,” the Flash continue their California trip with a visit to Ontario and the Fury. It will be win or go home for Jermaine Jones and company, so all hands will be on deck for this one. Meanwhile, the Flash, as previously discussed, will be playing two games in two nights, which for the most part doesn’t bode well for Monterrey. This is the perfect storm for Ontario: a chance to be in the playoffs, playing a team with nothing to play for on the tail end of a doubleheader. Ontario 9, Monterrey 5. HANNAH’S PICK: Hannah likes the Fury in this one, making them the 2 seed in the Pacific Division.

Well, there you have it. Twenty weeks of picks in the books. It’s time for me to start getting Hannah ready for her YouTube debut in our playoff edition of “Merlin’s Picks”. As always, what say you MASL Nation?

Merlin –
Last week: 6-1, Season: 147-50

Hannah –
Last week: 5-2, Season: 99-69