As the dawn of the MLL’s 14th season is upon us, it is time to get your favorite teams apparel out of the closet. It is always exciting to have the chance to see the best lacrosse in the world on television, or making the visit to your team’s home on a beautiful summer day. Some of the familiar names have new locations and some of the newest additions will look for break out performances this summer.
The pre season rankings are as follows:
1 – Chesapeake Bayhawks
Opening up this weekend in Boston, the MLL Champions are working for their three-peat. The midfield lines will not overwhelm any team, but their chemistry is something to note. Steven Brooks, Michael Kimmel, Kyle Dixon, Ben Hunt, and Matt Mackrides are all capable goal scorers, so the wealth can be evenly spread throughout the season. Adding Brendan Mundorf is an addition that would boost any team and he will be the focal point for the offense. The best is a veteran and bruising group. They make the job for Kip Turner much easier.
2 – Denver Outlaws
Having gone undefeated in the regular season, and undefeated in their scrimmages last weekend, the Outlaws look to continue their winning ways. They will hopefully be ending this summer with the championship trophy in tow. Eric Law is turning heads in both indoor and outdoor ranks. Justin Pennington is looking to have a breakout summer. The defense has really upgraded with adding Michael Simon, Dillon Roy, and Ken Clausen to bolster mainstay Lee Zink. Jesse Schwartzman is likely the best in the game right now as well. If they don’t have an issue replacing Mundorf’s production, it could be Denver’s summer.
3 – Charlotte Hounds
They are not going to be the best early, but they will likely be one of the best late when they add what seems to be like half Duke’s starting roster to their lineup. Matt Danowski and Ryan Young will be quarterbacking the offense. Brett Schmidt is going to anchor the defense in front of Adam Ghitelman. Transition offense will be their key as Josh Hawkins, Casey Cittadino, and Kevin Drew will all force defenses to move early against them coming up field.
4- Boston Cannons
Stephen Berger is going to be asked for more, Paul Rabil will be healthy, and some younger pieces are going to need to step up to compliment the abilities of those two. Ryan Boyle has forever been their quarterback but he is going to need help from players like Will Manny and Owen Blye to make their presence felt. With no Poskay, it could be wide open to find a goal scorer at attack.
5 – New York Lizards
The youth is there, so it is going to be how they have developed since their first summer as to how good they are going to be this summer. Rob Pannell, Stock Mock, JoJo Marasco, Tommy Palasek, and Josh Offit are going to need to break into super stardom for the team to make waves. Max Seibald and Matt Striebel have logged a lot of miles and they need help as to not wear down significantly.
6 – Ohio Machine
They will move up and down on the rankings as they find their niche. Each summer so far, they have come close and this summer is going to be where they put it together. The consistency will be there to make a move up the ranking. Kyle Harrison will provide the scoring punch needed to go along with Peter Baum. Matt Dolente will look to rebound from 2013 to give his team extra possessions. With Logan Schuss, Marcus Holman, and Steele Stanwick, the Machine should be able to score some goals.
7 – Rochester Rattlers
They just don’t have the scoring punch to keep it close with the tops of the league. Their defense is good with Mike Manley and John Lade on the back line supporting John Gallaway. The complimentary scorers that they have really need to step forward in dominating fashion. David Lawson, Rob Rotanz, John Ranagan and company need to support Kevin Leveille’s work behind the cage.
8 – Florida Launch
Seeing the Launch this past weekend, they need to find their scoring punch in a hurry. It is going to be difficult for them to get goals that are not in transition. They have some very good pieces, but it will be interesting to see how the summer develops for them. With players like Cody Jamieson finding out if they can make the commitment for the summer, the game day roster might be moving pieces like a game of chess. Mike Poppelton is going to have to be at his best to keep his offense with opportunities. When the NLL season ends, they will be much better off.