Despite trading away arguably the greatest player in college lacrosse history in Myles Jones, the expansion Atlanta Blaze (2-4) enter their upcoming game against the Ohio Machine (6-2) not short of offensive firepower. Having previously defeated Denver 23-12, as well as putting up 16 goals in an overtime loss to first-place New York, the Blaze look to keep humming offensively, while trying to tighten up at the back, a task easier said than done when facing Tom Schreiber and Marcus Holman, who are number one and two in the league in scoring, respectively.
The Machine had seven players named all-stars, including Schreiber, Holman, midfielder Kyle Harrison, and goalkeeper Scott Rodgers, while Atlanta will have three representatives at the all-star game in Fullerton, including former Syracuse Orange teammates Randy Staats and Kevin Rice.
On paper, this looks like a slam-dunk for the Machine, who have been nearly unstoppable this season, averaging 15 goals per game while allowing just over 11. In addition to Holman, Schreiber, and Harrison, young talent like Steele Stanwick and Jimmy Bitter have stepped up to make the Machine a force to be reckoned with.
On the other hand, Atlanta have struggled in their inaugural season; despite scoring over 15 goals per game, they are allowing just over 13, leaving their offense with little to no margin of error. Kevin Rice leads the Blaze with 37 points, good enough for second in MLL and Deemer Class, a former teammate of the recently traded Myles Jones, has seven points in his first two games for the Blaze.
This will be the first game in the post “Myles Jones era” (if we can even call two games an ‘era’) for Atlanta. In what should be a high scoring, entertaining affair, opening faceoff for this clash will be at 4:30 on Saturday, with Lax Sports Network providing a stream of the game.