Battle of the new franchises is upon us, again. This time though, there are new factors at play. Teams have altered their rosters and get to try different game plans.
Charlotte, standing at 1-6, has the edge with an early season 18-15 win over Ohio. The Machineâ€™s record is at 1-5, with their only win coming over Rochester.
The Hounds have come close to a couple wins, losing by one to Hamilton and Long Island. They have a very high powered offense, with many weapons on both attack and midfield. However, they have not clicked yet. Theyâ€™ve shown times of their team offense working, but they try to go to the net by themselves too much. They need to work the ball around and use their dodging and stick skills to their advantage. Charlotteâ€™s defense has made mental mistakes and missed assignments but has shown life. Their main problem stands between the pipes.
Ohio has proven tough during games, but mistakes and inconsistencies on both offense and defense havenâ€™t helped the Machine. Transition is a big factor for Ohio. They have the players to do it, just a matter of them producing results. Their offense is electrifying, but that can only take you so far. Ohioâ€™s defense gets caught sleeping sometimes and loses their assignment. Goalie play hasnâ€™t been bad for the Machine, but when youâ€™re Goals Against Average is 17 and youâ€™re facing close to 30+ shots a game, that does take a toll, even on a professional.
Below is a breakdown of each team by position.
Ohio: With the addition of Steele Stanwick, the Machine have added a huge weapon on offense. His vision, skill and lacrosse I.Q. are warmly welcomed, and needed, in Ohio. Connolly and Woodson have been working well together. Jim has a strong shot and speed. Chazz is a highlight reel in himself, with his dodging and high flying shots, and when I say flying, I literally mean flying. If these three guys work together, thereâ€™s no doubt they can be one of the most dangerous attack units in the MLL.
Charlotte: The Hound attack are smart, visional, and skilled players. Charlotteâ€™s quarterback is Danowski. Lusby, Bitter and Boltus are there to compliment Matt with off ball help, dodging, and scoring. They all can and will shoot and finish.
Like all games, the one that scores more, wins more.
Depth is not a problem for either team at this position, but choosing who will dress is.
Ohio: With 16 midfielders, itâ€™s hard to decide who will play, but Coach Garber has confidence and knows who deserves time. Rookie Rob Rotanz came out big for the Machine in his debut, which adds to the difficulty of who will dress. With a rookie showing he belongs, that means a veteran will have to sit. Connor Martin, Brett Garber, Matt Casey, Anthony Kelly, Jordan Levine and Matt Messina are the bigger names on the Ohio midfield. With Rotanz, thatâ€™s seven midfielders that are capable of starting. Martin is a possible go between with attack and midfield.
Charlotte: With Ohioâ€™s seventeen midfielders, Charlotte only possesses eleven. The Hounds are full of big names, like Josh Amidon, Stephen Berger, Brian Carroll, Jovan Miller and Justin Turri. Amidon will have to have a big game like he did in their first matchup against Ohio. All can play both ways. They are electrifying and need to start clicking on both ends of the field.
Transition is the key here. The team that makes the least turnovers at the midfield and transitions to nearly perfect will keep momentum and take the W.
Ohio: When Ohio got Kyle Hartzell, I thought they were going to be dominant on defense. They have been at times, but once again, the word inconsistent comes up. Hartzell is the guy to go to at the LSM position and is a threat at both ends. Ray Megill is Kyleâ€™s â€œGooseâ€ when heâ€™s not in. Ray is right in there on face offs and can get a ground ball just as easily as Kyle does. Bice, Hughes and Schmidt are great close defenders that know how to play and want to play. Itâ€™s a matter of working as a unit rather than individually.
Charlotte: Flanagan is the anchor of this defense, no doubt about it. Pages fits in nicely, along with Cinosky. Whoever gets put in on close will need to hunker down and shut down Woodsonâ€™s circus act and blind Stanwick from making that death pass.
Communication is the word of the day for these two defenses. Whichever team is the loudest on defense and connects verbally, will come out victorious.
Ohio: Stefan Schroder has shown that he should be the starter in net for Ohio. Heâ€™s been probably the only consistent player on defense for the Machine. He makes the big saves and has great vision. Phipps has struggled with having a torn ligament in his thumb from the Outlaws game and Rodriguez has not seeing much playing time.
Charlotte: Adam Ghitelman, Mark Manos, Joe Marra has been placed on the practice squad because of a hand injury and inconsistent play. Mark Manos was activated in May and made his debut by getting the start during the Nationals game. Unfortunately it wasnâ€™t pretty, and he was relieved of his duties early by Ghitelman. Adam has grown as the more consistent goalie for the Hounds, more so when he doesnâ€™t start.
Depending on what goalie gets the nod for either team, he will have to be consistent, communicate with the defense and ready to stand on his head. Thereâ€™s no doubt that the goalies will face many shots and let up a good amount of goals.
If either team wants to win this game, they will have to be consistent. I said it a lot because itâ€™s what needs to happen if either of these teams wants to get more than two wins. Rookies may prove to be the difference for Ohio in Stanwick and Rotanz, but look for Charlotteâ€™s total offense to wreak havoc if they click.
Game time is set for 7 p.m. EST in Ohio.