By Steve Rollins | 5/11/12 12:00 AM
Watch & Follow: SportsTime Ohio (11:30 p.m., 5/14 noon), COX NO (5/15 noon), ESPN 3, Live Blog, MLL Radio.
The Big Picture: The Charlotte Hounds and Ohio Machine will make history when they face-off for the first time this Saturday at 7 p.m. (ET). Neither team has won this season and both are hungry for their first MLL victory. The Machine are 0-1 after a tough 23-11 loss last Saturday against the Chesapeake Bayhawks. The Hounds are 0-2 so far this season, coming off a loss last weekend against the Boston Cannons 20-12.
Ohio Machine: The Machine are looking forward to the expansion game this weekend because they are well aware that one team will be getting their first win. Coach Garber said, “I think both teams are hungry to get on the winning side of the ledger and get some positive momentum and our guys are excited for it.” The Machine are hoping to grab a victory and use it to build their confidence.
Machine goalie Stefan Schroeder had a tough game last week against the Bayhawks and the Machine were looking for an overall better performance from him. Coach Garber added that, “He’s a really good goal keeper. He thought he let people down on Saturday. He’ll be ready to go this week.”
Offensively, the Machine are looking for some more spectacular plays from Chazz Woodson. Coach Garber described him as a “human highlight reel.” Woodson has become a very good team player for the Machine which is important while developing as an expansion team.
The Machine defense is very well-rounded and Coach Garber believes that the “quarterback” of the defense is Brett Hughes. He displays great team leadership. “When he talks, everyone listens to him” added Garber. The Machine aren’t worried about their defense being able to handle the Hounds offensive firepower. Garber added that he has confidence in his guys because, “they play smart and they play great together.”
Players to Watch: Mr. ESPN Top 10 Play, Chazz Woodson will certainly be looking to make some more exciting plays against the Hounds. Two more players to watch are fellow attackmen Jim Connolly who tallied 3 goals last week against the Bayhawks, and midfielder Brett Garber who had 2 goals against the Bayhawks one of which was a deep 2-pointer. On defense look out for the very talented long pole Kyle Hartzell.
Charlotte Hounds: Hounds Head Coach Mike Cerino is excited to get back home for their home opener saying that, “You can’t help but be excited to play against the other expansion team. We’re very fortunate that we get to do it at home this week.”
Coach Cerino expects to see a more productive Matt Danowski this week, saying that last week against the Cannons, “he showed up on just a few hours of sleep and tried to get his field legs back and played hard. I expect to see a better Matt Danowski this week.”
The Hounds have struggled dealing with their two goalies splitting time and may change their strategy this week, Cerino added, “We were going to split time. This weekend we’ll do what we have to do to find a way to get a win and that may be using a goaltender the whole time or a split again.” The Hounds are still trying to figure out who their goalie will be so that both Marra and Ghitelman have “clear defined roles on the team.”
There is also a perceived rivalry between these two expansion teams and the Hounds don’t want to focus on a rivalry, they just want to focus on finding a way to win. Coach Cerino says they will do so by, “fighting pretty hard this weekend.”
Players to watch: The Houndsoffensive leader is midfielder Stephen Berger. In two games he has 6 goals and 2 assists. Another Hounds midfielder to look out for is Jovan Miller, who has tallied 4 goals in two games, one of which was a spectacular crease dive last week against the Cannons. Also, keep an eye on Hounds attackmen Billy Bitter (4 goals, 2 assists) and Matt Danowski, who has yet to have a high-scoring game that everyone knows he is capable of. On defense, keep an eye on Ryan Flanagan who did pretty well handling the tedious task of shutting down Cannons midfielder Paul Rabil last week.
Next Match-Up: The Machine will face off against the Hounds next on Saturday, June 23 at 7 p.m. (ET) at Selby Stadium in Delaware, Ohio.