As we reach the midway point of the Major League Lacrosse season, the unbalanced schedule is forcing coaches to get creative with their lineups. The Ohio Machine are in the midst of three games in seven days between June 2 and June 9 in three different cities. The Machine were in Rochester on Thursday falling to the Rattlers on a night the offense could not figure out John Galloway. They returned home Saturday, June 4 to host the Florida Launch as the offense got back on track. They will play the Hounds in Charlotte this Thursday, June 9. Head coach Bear Davis had to think three games ahead as to how he wanted to manage his lineup for the grueling week.
Star midfield Kyle Harrison made the trip to Rochester on the 2nd, but did not play. Harrison is nursing a minor leg injury, but if this was the only game of the week, chances are he might have played. He did not suit up against Florida either on Saturday night, but with Florida struggling and another game coming up in a few days, there was no threat to sitting Harrison down one more time. Lance Yapor was brought up to the active roster to play in Harrison’s spot.
Dan Groot and Jackson Place played Thursday in Rochester, but not on Saturday. Matt McMahon and Reagan Harding were both active Saturday only after being scratched on Thursday. Chances are there will be more lineup changes this Thursday when Ohio travels to Charlotte. Lacrosse is a physically draining sport which takes a lot out of a player once a week, not to mention trying to play at a consistent level three times in a week. This schedule is asking a lot out these players and puts a lot of stress on them both physically and mentally. If Davis and company can come out of it 2-1, that should be considered a successful week.
Ohio is not the only team to endure a three games in a week schedule though. The month of July will see four teams experience a similar stretch.
The Atlanta Blaze will be in Denver July 16, in Chesapeake July 21, then at home to host the Launch on July 23.
The Denver Outlaws will also play at Charlotte July 23, then head to Rochester on July 28, and finish up at home hosting the Hounds.
The New York Lizards will head upstate to Rochester on July 23, then back to the Big Apple to host the Bayhawks on July 28, and head up to Harvard Stadium on July 30 to meet Boston.
The Rochester Rattlers will match the Lizards week by hosting them at The Aquinas Institute on July 23, will stay in town for a July 28 meeting with Denver before completing the stretch on July 30 at Florida.
If any of these teams can go 3-0 on this stretch they will set themselves up for solid playoff position.
Week 7 Game Balls
John Galloway, Rochester. Galloway turned away 21 shots while surrendering only 9 goals to the most potent offense in the MLL vs. Ohio Thursday night.
Max Seibald, Boston. Seibald returned from injured reserve to score two two-point goals leading the Cannons back to the win column after losing their previous two games.
Joe Walters, Chesapeake. Walters is making an early case for MVP with another five points (three goals, two assists) in a win vs. Charlotte.
Rob Pannell, New York. Pannell tallied four goals and three assists as New York held on to defeat Denver on Saturday.
Mark Cockerton, Ohio. Cockerton scored three of his four goals in the second half to seal a win over Floridaon Sunday.
Week 7 MLL Top 9
1- Ohio (5-2) Brutal schedule has them in the middle of three games in seven days.
2- New York (4-1) Defense still does not look as crisp as last year.
3- Chesapeake (4-2) Veteran team needs some help at the Faceoff X.
4- Rochester (2-3) Some home cooking in a new stadium has Rochester back on track.
5- Boston (4-3) Good rebound win vs. Atlanta.
6- Charlotte (3-2) Fast start erased after a couple losses.
7- Atlanta (2-3) Myles Jones was very impressive in his debut.
8- Denver (2-4) Defense is really struggling in 6 v. 6.
9- Florida (0-6) Things look bleak in South Florida.
Brendan McDaniels is a color analyst for the MLL Television broadcasts. Follow Brendan on Twitter @McDanielsSports.