This weekend, the last place Ohio Machine will hold host to the first place Chesapeake Bayhawks. It will be the second time these two teams meet this season. Chesapeake won the first game 23-11 which seemed to be an easy win for the Bayhawks. However, that was the beginning of the season, and this is a different Ohio team with new factors at play.
Well, we all know this attack unit by now, John Grant Jr., Drew Westervelt and Danny Glading. These guys have molded into one of the best attack groups in the MLL today. With their ball movement, stick skills and high I.Q.â€™s, they will prove difficult for Ohioâ€™s defenders.
Chazz Woodson, Steele Stanwick, and Jim Connolly have worked well together this season. Theyâ€™re still somewhat finding their groove and have gotten a lot closer after last weekendâ€™s games against Hamilton. Ohio has added another playmaker in Joe Cummings. Stanwick and Cummings were anchors their attack units in college and took control of the game when it needed to be done. With Woodsonâ€™s athleticism, Stanwickâ€™s feeding skills, mixed with Cummings and Connollyâ€™s finishing skills, the future is bright and they will make problems for Chesapeakeâ€™s tough defense.
The Bayhawks first midfield line of Steven Brooks, Michael Kimmel, and Kyle Dixon are very dominant in the MLL. They know where each other are on the field and work for one another to create offense, along with the attack. Dixon is a huge threat with his two-point shot, which we may see more of this weekend if Ohio doesnâ€™t stop it. Their second line of Matt Mackrides, Ben Rubeor, and Ben Hunt compliments their first line, as Mackrides has amazing speed, with Rubeor and Hunt creating offense as well.
Dan Groot, Connor Martin, Matt Casey, Matt Messina, Kiel Matisz and Brett Garber are the top midfielders for the Machine. They have the ability to be dangerous and will do what they can to score. Martin is a big time dodger, quick and will sacrifice his body. These midfielders have nothing to lose and will fight until the end.
Chesapeake was missing its other bash brother this past weekend in Brian Spallina, but he will return this weekend. Barney Ehrmann did a terrific job stepping in for Spallina and played great man and team defense. Polanco and Evans took on strong assignments and will continue that this weekend as they face Woodson, Stanwick and either Connolly or Cummings, or even both. John Orsen and Dan Hostetler played well against Rochesterâ€™s midfield unit. Hostetler adapted well when Ned Crotty was inverted to midfield, which is a great sign for Chesapeake as they will be facing the same type of situation with Martin going from Attack in college to Midfield in the MLL. Their top short stick d-mids in Matt Abbott and Jeff Reynolds will be plenty busy with the other Ohio midfielders.
LSMâ€™s Kyle Hartzell and Ray Megill have become threats for Ohio at the midfield. Both can transition well and score if need be, especially Hartzell, who can shoot and score from 22 yards out. Greg Bice, Brett Hughes and Max Schmidt are going to have their hands full with the Chesapeake attack. Joe Smith, Marshall Burkhart and whoever else gets caught on defense with a short stick, will need to step up and be able to run with the Bayhawk midfield. They can shoot and dodge from anywhere. Guarding the two-point arc and stopping transition are the keys to keeping a close game.
Adam Rand has been very dominant at the X for Chesapeake and will continue to do so. This past weekend he won 15-22 faceoffâ€™s against Rochester. Now he has to face Eric Oâ€™Brien, who won 17-52 faceoffâ€™s this weekend in Ohioâ€™s double header versus Hamilton. The faceoff X will be fun to watch as these two guys go at it.
Kip Turner is the starter and will most likely see time in cage this weekend. Although, we may see a back up netminder in either in at the start to see how things will go or half way through the game, just so Turner can rest. Considering itâ€™s the end of the season and you have the three toughest teams in the league as your last three games, Coach Cottle may want to think about giving Turner a weekend off and sitting him. Though he could go the opposite way and have Turner in net just to keep him consistent and not shake up the chemistry of the team.
Brian Phipps and Stefan Schroder will have to fight in practice for the start this weekend. Both are, as we all know, capable of starting and having big games. However, if I were Coach Garber, I would go with Phipps. Heâ€™s hot from this past weekend and looking good. Nothing against Schroder, just from a coaching standpoint, you go with your keeper that is hot and got the W form the double header.
Key Notes to the Game:
For Ohio, it will be to possess the ball, win the faceoffâ€™s, stop Chesapeakeâ€™s transition and guard the two-point shot.
Chesapeake will have to stop Kyle Hartzell, slide fast and shutdown Stanwick.