Well, things havenâ€™t started out well for the Ohio Machine as they start the second half of the season 0-1. However, even though they lost to the Denver Outlaws by four, they kept it very close when they clicked in the second half of the game. They outscored the Outlaws 8-7 in the third and fourth quarters, giving hope to their future of the 2012 season.
One of the faces that have made an impact for Ohio is rookie Steele Stanwick. It takes a lot of guts for a rookie to fill the shoes that Stanwick has, but for him, itâ€™s like fitting a glove. Since he joined the Machine, they have scored more goals and made games very close. I have seen a much more calm offense in Ohio. Theyâ€™re not forcing as much, thereâ€™s a more settled offense, and they control the ball a lot better.
Pressure has been taken off of Chazz Woodson to be the big play maker, though he still gives us high light reel footage. Jim Connolly is scoring more goals with the assists coming from Stanwick. Even Kyle Hartzell has joined the ranks as a goal scorer. The Machine are finding their identity on offense and giving defenses a run for their money.
Stefan Schroder has been a beast in net for Ohio so far this season. Nothing against Brian Phipps, heâ€™s played great as well, but Schroder has blown everyone away. Having a consistent goalie will be a big part of this Ohio teamâ€™s success the rest of the season. That is one of the words Ohio will need to keep in the back of their minds going forward, consistency. Theyâ€™ve slowly started becoming consistent, and will need to keep doing so moving forward in order to get wins.
Kyle Hartzell will need to keep being a weapon on both ends of the field. This kid can fire the ball way beyond the two-point line. He has a nose for ground balls and can take on the best offensive player on any MLL team. Since Brett Hughes returned on defense, they have been a lot better and are more understanding of their slide packages and assignments. They have a strong core in their other defenders with Max Schmidt, Greg Bice, and Ray Megill. These guys will have to communicate, stand their ground and give Schroder easy shots to save to win games.
Midfielders will also have to keep being contributors to the Machine the rest of the 2012 campaign. Matt Casey, Kiel Matisz, Brett Garber and Connor Martin have been contributing all season. If their midfield is able to dodge down the alley way in order to open up passing and shooting lanes, theyâ€™re offense will be able to score more goals and be more menacing. The faceoff will be a huge help to Ohio and going 21-33 last game shows that they have the personnel to do it.
A big factor that Ohio is great at and will continue to be great at is the powerplay. They currently stand on top of the MLL, converting 14/28, half of their powerplayâ€™s this season. In their game against the Outlaws, they went 3/5, which is hard to do against the Denver defense. They will need to carry that skill the rest of the season and hope to draw penalties. Taking penalties doesnâ€™t seem to be a problem for the Machine, as they had none last game. Hopefully they can stay out of the box. It will be huge for the rest of 2012.
Consistency will be the name of the game for the Machine. All around the field will have to be just that, consistent. If Ohio plays the rest of the season like they did in the second half of their game versus Denver, they may be able to squeak out a few wins.