With a brutal week of camp under my belt (the camp was great, the 100 degree temperatures were not!), it took me some time to get together this MLL Weekend Preview, but now that I’ve done my research and checked my all-knowing gut, I’m ready to give you rapid fire game previews and winner predictions.
I’m 20 for 26 on predictions this year, and three of those times I’ve gone out on a limb. The other three wrong predictions? Just increasing parity in a growing league. Who wants to be perfect anyway?
Boston Cannons @ Chesapeake Bayhawks
Boston ran into some problems against Long Island’s athletic poles, but I don’t know that they will face the same problem in the Bayhawks. I’m thinking Matt Poskay gets open for 3 or 4, and gets crushed by a Bayhawk defender at least once. The Cannons midfield will add some goals, they’ll get one or two in transition from a pole, and Ryan Boyle will draw at least three penalties.
OR… the refs will continue to let the guys play/hack each other relentlessly, and then it’s anyone’s game. For me, this game comes down to ONE angle: Can Boston’s Attack take advantage of Chesapeake’s slow feet on defense without a trip to the emergency room? I say yes, and the Cannons win 14-12.
Charlotte Hounds @ Ohio Machine
The good thing about this game is that one of these teams will double their win total for the year. The bad thing about this game is that both teams only have one win. Wow, that was some lazy sports journalism. As we all know, this game features two expansion teams, and neither of them are really in the running for the MLL title.
HOWEVER, this game is actually quite huge. Charlotte has been trying some new people out, and switching things around, if they can get a win here, some of the players in game might have sewn up spots moving forward. If the Hounds lose, we’ll continue to see a revolving wonder wheel of players.
For Ohio, they just need a win right now. This team will change as well, and as the seasons progress, Ohio will change just like any expansion program. But this Ohio team, in 2012, wants to win now. A number of guys on this team might be out of the league in only one or two years it seems (at least to me anyway!) and that creates a “win now” attitude.
After a tough game with Long Island last week, and the attitude of winning today not tomorrow, I like Ohio to take the W at home. Battle of the expansion teams might have been the hardest pick of the week!
Denver Outlaws @ Long Island Lizards
Both Denver and Long Island are looking really good right now, but I’m going to keep this one super short, and very sweet. Long Island wins by 3 at home. They have the midfield scoring, attack poise and presence, face off wins galore, an athletic D and a great keeper. Denver is missing two of those things, at least to a certain degree. 5 tools to 3, Long Island wins at home 15-12.
Hamilton Nationals @ Rochester Rattlers
While the Boston – Chesapeake game might feature the two highest rated teams, and Ohio – Charlotte might be the hardest to call, if I could take in any one game live, the Hamilton – Rochester game would be my choice.
Rochester will be the field of silky still skills, and everyone who wants to be good at lacrosse should take it in. You’ve got finishers, ball handlers, passers and some dodgers that will knock your socks off in this one, and it should also be a relatively tight game!
I like Hamilton to win again, but could definitely see Rochester pulling the upset. I’ve gone opposite-Rochester (meaning I pick them to win if I think they will lose), but here I’m picking them to lose, and I actually think they will. Hamilton takes it 16-12 and proves they are one of the more dangerous teams in the MLL this Summer.
What To TRULY Watch For!
Last week there was a little hullabaloo about the seeming no-call policy of the MLL. Now we get to see if anything changes! We might see a call here or there that wouldn’t have been made, but I truly doubt we’ll see a real overhaul until next season at the earliest. I’d love for a pro league to address an issue like this midseason, but I don’t know that it’s going to happen this time around, even if it should.
I like a big hit, and a tough check as much as the next guy, but I also like seeing flags thrown when the rules are broken. Without that, the MLL will devolve and eventually we’ll regularly see fights in pro field lacrosse. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen, because I’d rather not give up on the MLL!