By Kelsey Doherty | 8/2/13 3:20 PM
Hamilton Nationals at Charlotte Hounds
Saturday, August 3 – 7:00 p.m. (EST) – American Legion Memorial Stadium
The Charlotte Hounds will seek a spot in the playoffs Saturday, August 3, as they host the Hamilton Nationals at 7pm ET at American Legion Memorial Stadium, live on ESPN3.
The Hounds will be looking for a win over Hamilton to send them into the post season, but they’ll also need the Boston Cannons to lose their matchup with the Ohio Machine earlier in the day. The Nationals have already earned a spot at Championship Weekend presented by Smartlink, but they are still hoping to clinch the number two seed. This means Hamilton needs either a win this week, or a loss from the Chesapeake Bayhawks to earn the second seed.
During the game, the Hounds will show their support for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, sporting pink Warrior socks throughout the night to raise awareness for the foundation. The organization will also be raising funds through a special raffle for a stick signed by the Hounds, all funds will go to Komen Charlotte. Special pink give-a-ways and shirts will also serve as awareness and fundraisers.
Earlier this season, in week four, the Nationals hosted the Hounds and took the 16-15 win, but it took an overtime goal from Matt Dolente to make it happen. In a close game, both teams demonstrated a strong midfield, even with some of Charlotte’s core players not dressed. The Hounds were without Ryan Young and Matt Danowski, their two leading scorers.
In the same game, Joe Walters returned to Hamilton, handing out two assists, and a hat trick. He has only improved since then and is making a case for season MVP as he leads the Nationals to the playoffs alongside Kevin Crowley, the second highest scorer in the League.
Rookie Mike Sawyer also made his MLL debut with Charlotte in week four, earning Cascade Rookie of the Week honors, tallying a goal and two assists. This has become the standard for Sawyer, and now that he is more comfortable in the League, he could certainly make more of an impact in Saturday’s game.
Coming into this week, the Hounds are fresh off a big win against the Ohio Machine, with a final of 13-10. This pushed Charlotte to 6-6 on the season, and now they’ll attempt to move over .500 for the first time in club history. They will also have the essential pieces they were missing when they traveled to Hamilton earlier in the season; their captain, Danowski, and Young. Cumulatively these two have 73 points on the season. Charlotte’s strong defense will also play a role. Rookie Mason Poli is tied for the most points by a defensemen with 10 points, and still Charlotte claims both veterans Ryan Flanagan and Brett Schmidt to protect their territory.
The Nationals boast one of the best attacking duo’s in the League in Crowley and Walters. Crowley alone has posted 44 points, while Walters leads the league with 41 assists, serving as a true team player. Facing such a strong midfield, Charlotte’s Adam Ghitleman will have to be ready in goal. Hamilton is third in the League in goals allowed, and fifth in goals for, something surprising for a team which is 9-3 on the season.
In week 12, the Nationals defeated the Cannons with a very impressive 17-12 win. Led by Warrior Offensive Player of the Week, Garrett Thul, who scored five goals and six points, Kevin Cunningham, Jordan Hall, and Roy Lang all posted a pair of goals. They will need to keep this momentum rolling against the Hounds, who have everything to play for.
Both teams offer a powerful defense, and are coming off of key wins, and if their previous 2013 matchup is any indication, this will be a tough win for either team.
To watch as Hamilton makes a bid for the number two seed, and the Hounds continue their race to the playoffs, tune in to ESPN3 at 7pm ET on Saturday, August 3.