Ohio Machine at Boston Cannons
Saturday, August 3, 4 p.m. – Harvard Stadium
In this week’s Major League Lacrosse YouTube game of the week, the 1-11 Ohio Machine travel to Boston to take on the 5-7 Cannons Saturday night at Harvard Stadium.
The matchup presents a scenario for Boston that the team, as well as the fan base is unfamiliar with, a chance to be eliminated from playoff contention before the final week of the season. A loss by Boston would end its hope to clinch one of the two remaining spots in this year’s Championship Weekend presented by Smartlink.
After a rough start by the Cannons, veteran leadership by league leader Paul Rabil and company was able to right the ship and bring the team back into the playoff race. That mid-season magic seems to have worn off, as Boston now faces elimination against the eighth place Machine.
While on paper this matchup heavily favors the home team, looking past the Machine is a mistake that the Cannons cannot make if they hope to remain in the hunt for fourth place. Since the franchise’s inception in 2012, Ohio is 0-3 against the Cannons including a loss in Columbus earlier this season.
Rabil continues to lead Boston’s potent offense, but scoring chances have balanced out between the starting six offensive players. Five players currently have more than 20 points scored in 2013; Rabil (49), Mike Stone (29), Matt Poskay (26), Kevin Buchanan (25), Ryan Boyle (24), and perhaps most importantly rookie Will Manny (22). Manny, a graduate of UMASS has been fantastic for Boston in this critical part of the season scoring 17 points in his last five games.
Both of these teams rely heavily on their rookies for offensive production, each squad sports a pair of first year pros that have been game changers in the summer of 2013. For Boston, Cam Flint and Manny have been excellent offensive complements for the veteran group that was already in place when they arrived, however, the Machine’s rookie duo of Logan Schuss and Marcus Holman provides much more than goals for a team looking for a reason to be excited for the future.
Holman and Schuss were selected in this past year’s Collegiate Draft, and are beginning to look like the long-term solution to Ohio’s offensive woes. Schuss, a strong candidate for Cascade Rookie of the Year, has been magnificent in his first MLL campaign scoring 27 points. The Canadian lefty leads all rookies in goals with 23, and trails only Rob Pannell in total points scored by a rookie.
On the defensive end of the field, both teams have had some struggles with their play in goal. Jordan Burke, a former championship weekend MVP, started the year with a nagging injury that prevented him from being effective in net, however, the resilient veteran has been able to turn his season around and now appears to have returned to his best form at a point in the season where the Cannons need it most.
In the opposite cage Brian Phipps continues to show fans moments of greatness, something that bodes well for the young team’s future.
The Cannons have an advantage in this matchup, but this young Machine squad will put everything they have on the table as they try to play the spoiler. Boston has much more to play for; however, eliminating the 2011 Steinfeld Trophy winners from playoff contention would be a huge win for a team that has been out of the playoff race for several weeks.
Don’t forget to tune into this important matchup Saturday night, the game can be found on Major League Lacrosse’s YouTube channel at 4 P.M EST.