Florida came into competition Saturday looking to fill holes with a healthy mix of veterans and players looking to step into roles after having been out of college for some time. Scott Kahoe (Georgetown and Syracuse) controlled tempo through the midfield when he had the ball. Andrew Scalley had an impressive showing against the Bayhawks during the second game of the scrimmage. He was able to capitalize on his opportunities, being able to finish scoring chances in tough situations. Steve Panarelli has been quietly on the radar for a long time in the league and this might be his time to shine. Jimmy Dailey got the best of him during the second game, but Panarelli will definitely get time for Florida.
Reid Acton was the strongest member of the defensive personnel during Florida’s games. He is a big, physical defenseman and also has the knack for getting ground balls up off the turf quickly. His stick work is crafty, like what you would expect from Canadian players, and he will log a lot of minutes for the franchise.
In goal, Florida is in a good position if they need a change of pace ever between who is starting and who is the back up. Brett Queener played in the first game, being able to run his own coaching and sideline reporting during their second game with the Bayhawks. Adam Fullerton got the nod in the second game and made many great saves. They will certainly battle for the starting job week after week, with the job going to whoever has the hot hand.
PT Ricci will man the middle of the field as the team’s long stick midfielder. He still has the ability to cover the faster midfielders, while strong enough to play the more bruising style player. Ricci is also a threat in transition that can change momentum in a game.
A couple of college graduates made their way onto the field in hopes of breaking into the league. Milton Lyles (UNC) ran long stick midfield and was quick to get into any scrum looking to come away with possession for his team. Zach Palmer and his college teammate, Eric Diprospero looked to crack into the line up as well. Diprospero ran transition against the Bayhawks well and has the ability to cover the imposing midfielders that a team like the Bayhawks has on their roster. Palmer was able to find open players, but didn’t seem to have that ability to get to the goal like he did while at Hopkins.
The Charlotte Hounds are going to be a team moving a lot of pieces this summer when the college season comes to an end. Their defense may be the group that changes the most in the entire league week to week. Brett Schmidt played tough and was able to cover anyone on the field. He is also a calming presence on the back line, as when he had the ball, he didn’t make careless mistakes in clearing or transition.
Defensive midfield is the strongest group on the team’s roster. The Hounds have a defensive midfield of Kevin Drew, Peter Mezzanotte, and Josh Hawkins that present strong one-on-one defense and the ability to score timely goals, which will always be enjoyable to watch for fans of the game. Hawkins was on the wing for most every face off. On isolation dodges, he was not beat to the goal and rarely did his opposition even get his hands free for a shot. Given that ability, the goalies were able to see shots that were savable. Mike Gabel got the start in the first game against Florida and Pierce Bassett, the rookie from Hopkins, got significant minutes to prove he belonged on the roster.
The team has an all-star lineup at attack with whatever line up they decide to use. Matt Danowski was not in attendance due to work commitments with Duke. Dean Gibbons, Joe Cummings, Mike Sawyer, and Ryan Young give the Hounds a lot of options. The midfield seems to be lacking that go to scoring threat. They have athletes, but none that have ever been dominant as scorers in their careers. Matt White and Jake Tripucka will be asked to add a lot of scoring to relieve the pressure their defense will likely face.
As the college season ends, the Hounds will likely add these names to the line up immediately: Mike Chanenchuk (midfield), Josh Dionne (attack), Michael Ehrhardt (defense), Chris Hipps (defense), and the rest of Duke’s starting defense. Chanenchuk will be asked to contribute more than the rest unless Brendan Fowler replaces Geoff Snider at the face off circle. With these additions, it is going to be a drastic change between the Hounds that the crowd saw this past weekend to the one they see this August.
The 14th season of Major League Lacrosse get started this weekend. Denver won both scrimmages, but will be looking to continue last season’s strong start all the way through Championship Weekend. Chesapeake will be again amongst the league leaders if they continue to improve on this weekend’s performance. Florida will be a work in progress and get a huge boost when the NLL season is over. The Hounds will look to build on college talent that they have acquired to return to Championship Weekend.
– Brian Davies