Oh how the time flies. It seems like just yesterday that all the rookies were suiting up for their first MLL game. With some players having played as many as eight games, the rookies should have a pretty good idea of their roles on the team. Some like Rob Pannell, Logan Schuss, Eric Law and John Ranagan have been constant threats for their teams. Others like Jesse Burnhardt and Brian Megill have brought some youth and athleticism to veteran heavy teams. With only two weeks left in the season, let’s see how the rookies fared as the playoff race tightens.
Midfielder John Ranagan and Dave Lawson seemed to have switched roles on the team. Ranagan did have a goal in the win over the Lizards, but has only scored four goals total in his last four games. In his first four he had 11 goals and seemed to be a huge mismatch for teams.
Meanwhile, Dave Lawson exploded in the win over the Lizards as he scored five goals on the night and has 14 points over his last four games. It seems as if the Rattlers have a great midfield unit with teams having to pick between Lawson and Ranagan.
Offensively, Will Manny and Cameron Flint maintain vital roles in the Cannons offense. Despite the loss, Manny had two assists while Flint notched three points on the day. The two have 22 and 14 points respectively for Boston. Manny has seen his output drop off the last couple games as he has four points total. Compare that to his streak of 13 over three games and you can see that team’s are starting to pay much more attention to him on the defensive end.
Defensively, Scott Ratliff provided a little offense to his usual strong play on the defensive end. He scored a goal for the Cannons in the losing effort and had four ground balls to go along with it.
Mike Sawyer had a solid day this past week for the Hounds as he recorded three points in the win that brought the Hounds back to a .500 record. He scored two goals on the day and added an assist as well. However, fellow rookie Jake Tripucka was shut out for the first time in four games and seemed to be a non factor all day.
A new name that burst onto the scene for the Hounds was John Haus. Despite seeing playing time in six games, Haus had only recorded two points. In the victory over the Machine, Haus doubled his point total and helped propel the Hounds over the Machine.
Mason Poli continues to star at long stick midfield for the Hounds. He is a viable threat in transition and leads all defensemen in points. In the Hounds win over the Machine, Poli notched another goal, giving him six on the year. He has 10 points total from the LSM position and adds some solid defense as well.
New York Lizards
The only thing I can say confidently is that Rob Pannell will win the Cascade Rookie of the Year once all is said and done. Pannell added four points to his total, and now has 30 on the season. Despite being eliminated from the playoffs, Pannell has proven that he will be one of, if not, the best player in the MLL in the next couple of seasons. He will most certainly beat out Schuss for ROY honors as the Machine are dreadful and Law has the benefit of playing on the best team in the league.
Stephen Mock, Pannell’s teammate at Cornell has also found his calling a Lizard uniform as he notched his third straight game of two goals. Mock, who scored 60 goals for Cornell this past NCAA season, is a one dimensional player. However, his one dimension is strong and any team will take a guaranteed two goals a game.
The play of LSM Jesse Burnhardt and SSDM Dom Sebastiani continue to add some youth and athleticism to a team full of veterans. Burnhardt had five ground balls in last week’s game against the Denver Outlaws, bringing his total up to 22 on the season. Sebastiani continues to be a grinder at the SSDM position and is doing whatever the team asks of him.
Defenseman Tucker Durkin and Jason Noble continue to see heavy playing time for the Nationals. Durkin has been a starter down low since Day 1, while Noble has seen action in five games. Durkin has shown the ability to be a lockdown defender while Noble continues to be the man in between the lines for the Nationals.
Mike Poppleton was instrumental to the Nationals win last week as he edged Boston’s Chris Eck in the faceoff game winning 16-31 faceoffs. He also registered eight ground balls and took a couple shots to keep the defense honest. Since being drafted and taking over the full-time role as the team’s faceoff man the Nationals have been a better team.
In what continues to be a dismal season, the Ohio Machine lost yet again. Despite being on the worst team in the MLL, however, attackman Logan Schuss has been one of the best rookies out of this year’s draft class. In the Machine’s 12-10 loss to the Charlotte Hounds, Schuss recorded his third straight game of four points and fourth consecutive game with four-plus points. On the season he now has 27 points, second only to the New York Lizards Rob Pannell.
Meanwhile, teammate Marcus Holman notched one goal last week and now has 15 points on the season, good for fourth on the team. Him and Schuss are part of a four man attack unit that has a combined 94 points on the season.
Defensively, Dominique Alexander and Jake Bernhardt continue to see reps at the defensive midfield unit, where they provide athleticism to the position. However, their inexperience against some of the game’s best players has been exposed.
After seven games, you could’ve made an argument that attackman Eric Law was the best rookie in the game. However, this past week he was shutout for the first time in his career as he only recorded one shot. Don’t expect this to be a trend, especially with Law being on a team full of scoring threats.
Defensively, Brian Megill ranks sixth on the team in ground balls with 22 and continues to provide solid defense.