By Chris Mahoney | 6/19/12 12:30 PM
Watch & Follow: Syndicated TV: SportsTime Ohio (10pm, 6/25 noon), WMYT. Web: ESPN3, Live Blog
The Big Picture: The Ohio Machine will host the Charlotte Hounds in a battle of expansion teams on Saturday, June 23rd at 7 p.m. (ET). The teams are both currently stuck on one win for the season, with Ohio holding a slight edge in the standings on percentage points, by virtue of having played one fewer game than Charlotte.
The two expansion squads met previously on May 12th, in Charlotte, NC, with the Hounds prevailing by a score of 18-15. Charlotte broke open a 14-14 game with a 4-0 run in the fourth quarter.
Ohio Machine: Ohio has lost three in a row since recording their first win, a 16-10 triumph over Rochester at home. Last week the Machine lost to Long Island 16-12 at home. The Lizards scored the last five goals of the third quarter in that game to turn a 10-9 deficit into a 14-9 lead and never looked back. Coach Ted Garber said, “I thought we played one of our better games of the season against a very good team.” Garber says his team is a “work in progress as an expansion team… but they’re all talented guys.”
Players to Watch: The Machine offense is led by human-highlight reel Chazz Woodson (18 points) at attack. Woodson exceptional quickness and athleticism make him especially dangerous in 1-on-1 situations. Jim Connolly (15 points) and rookie Steele Stanwick (three points last week in his MLL debut) round out the starting attack unit. Coach Garber has been using attackman Connor Martin (15 points) at midfield due to a lack of depth at the position, combined with a crowded attack unit. Garber likes Martin’s ability to dodge both short-sticks and poles which makes him dangerous from up top. Outside of Martin, Machine are getting shockingly little production from the midfield; Brett Garber leads the unit with eight points on the season. Former Duke Blue Devil Rob Rotanz has just one point in his first two professional games, but look for him to pick it up moving forward as he has tremendous talent. Defenseman Kyle Hartzell has an impressive five goals on the season (four being of the two-point variety). Garber hasn’t decided whether Stephan Schroder (15.29 GAA, .458 SV%)or Brian Phipps (14.67, .389) will start between the pipes.
Charlotte Hounds: Charlotte’s only win of the season was over Ohio in Week 3. The Hounds have lost four in a row, and got ripped 16-8 by defending-champion Boston last weekend, scoring only four goals in the first three quarters. Coach Mike Serino was “disappointed by the outcome” but was encouraged by the fact that his team won the ground ball battle and outshot the Cannons. While the offense has struggled at times, defense has been a big problem for Charlotte, as the Hounds have allowed an MLL-high 109 goals this season. However, the primary issue for the Hounds has been face-offs, where Charlotte’s 34.9% faceoff percentage is dead-last in the league by a wide margin.
Players to Watch: Charlotte has plenty of talent on the offensive side of the ball. Veteran Stephen Berger leads the team in scoring with 26 points. Brian Carroll (12 points) and Josh Amidon (11 points) provide secondary scoring from the midfield, while rookie Justin Turri is looking to carve out a role for himself. Jovan Miller (13 points) is a unique weapon for the Hounds: a true two-way midfielder.Coach Serino says that Miller has “embraced his role” as a two-way middie and thinks “his best lacrosse is ahead of him.” On attack, Matt Danowski (22 points) and Jeremy Boltus (19 points) are having strong seasons, and Billy Bitter (11 points) might just be the best of all three. It will be challenging for Ohio to defend all of Charlotte’s offensive weapons. Recently-acquired Kevin Ridgway (from Ohio) should help out Ryan Flanagan (27 GBs) on the defensive end in front of Adam Ghitelman (15.15 GAA, .534 SV%).
Next Match-Up: Next week, Ohio travels to Denver for a July 4th matchup with the Outlaws at 7 p.m. ET. Charlotte will host Chesapeake on Saturday July at 7th at 7 p.m. ET.
MLL will host its marquee event in Palm Beach County, FL this year on Saturday, June 30! To buy your tickets now, click here. To learn more about the 2012 MLL All-Star Game presented by Moe's Southwest Grill, click here. The 2012 MLL All-Star Game will feature the best lacrosse players in the world, all on one field and will be aired live on ESPN2 and ESPN3.