The Big Picture: The Charlotte Hounds will host the Rochester Rattlers in the last week of regular season MLL action. The Hounds are coming off an 11-9 victory over the Hamilton Nationals last weekend. The Rattlers are looking to bounce back after a tough 17-12 loss to the Denver Outlaws. The Hounds are in sixth place with a 4-9 record, and just ahead in MLL standings are the Rattlers in fifth place with a 7-6 record. In these two teams last meeting in week 11, the Rattlers came out on top 14-5.
The Hounds may not be in playoff contention but they are looking to finish the season strong in front of their home crowd. The Rattlers need to win this game in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. With one team playing for pride and another in a must win situation, expect nothing less than a hard fought game between these two teams.
Charlotte Hounds: Charlotte is hoping to end their first season on a high note in front of their home crowd at American Legion Memorial Field on Saturday. Earlier this season the Hounds proved their ability to possibly pull off an upset against the first place Bayhawks. They put up a tough fight but couldn’t finish out the game against the Bayhawks. Finishing the game is something that they must do against the Rattlers this week. In their 11-9 victory over the Nationals last week the Hounds started the game very strong with five goals in the first quarter and only allowed one. If they can pour five or six goals onto the Rattlers early and match that with some great defense, it may put the Rattlers in a hole that they can’t dig themselves out of.
Players to Watch: The Hounds leading scorers this season are Stephen Berger (38 points) and Matt Danowski(38 points). These two players have kept a balance in scoring between the midfield and attack; both have also proven to be a 2 point threat with three 2pt goals each. Defenseman Ricky Pages has proven to be a defensive and offensive threat this season. He has 7 points and 22 ground balls. Pages has also been key on the wing during faceoffs. Another defenseman, Ryan Flanagan is a player to watch for Charlotte. He is leading the team in groundballs (56 GB’s), also look for him to shut down any Rattlers attackman he’s matched up on.
Rochester Rattlers: The Rattlers must win this game to keep their chances of making it to Championship Weekend alive. If they can secure a victory over the Hounds then their fate will lie in results stemming from other games (see playoff scenarios). The Rattlers are looking to come back this weekend after a sloppy 17-12 loss to the Denver Outlaws. The Rattlers allowed six goals in the first quarter against the Outlaws. This is something they cannot allow to happen against the Hounds because they lose control of the game too early and are forced to play from behind. The Rattlers have proven themselves against the Hounds in the past beating them 14-5 in week 11.
Players to Watch: Midfielder and Rattlers leading scorer Matt Striebel (31pts.) has been a consistent player to watch for the Rattlers who is guaranteed a multiple goal game. Midfielder Jordan MacIntosh has 25 points this season and is highly capable of a 3-4 point game. Defenseman Joel White has proven to be a defensive force this year for the Rattlers with 54 groundballs and 10 points, he is a fast player who can cover any of the Hounds quick midfielders or attackmen if needed.
MLL will host its 2012 Championship Weekend presented by Warrior on August 25 and 26 at Harvard Stadium in Boston, Mass. It will be a battle of the top four teams and will include two semi-final games on Saturday followed by the championship game on Sunday. Tickets are available now via Ticketmaster.com. To learn more about the 2012 MLL Championship Weekend presented by Warrior click here. The games will be televised live on ESPN2.