With all eyes on the NCAA championships this weekend, the lone MLL game of the week takes place Thursday at 7:30 p.m. (on CBS Sports Network), as the 3-0 Hamilton Nationals take on the 0-3 Ohio Machine.
Make sure you check out the Week 3 Recap post for awesome Week 3 video highlights, and a ton of info on last week’s games!
Looking at the standings alone, these are obviously two teams in very different places. Hamilton is undefeated, while Ohio is still looking for their first win of 2013.
After splitting the season series last year, Hamilton and Ohio went in on a big offseason trade, with the Machine sending Roy Lang to Hamilton in exchange for Chad Wiedmaier and Scott Rodgers. While Machine head coach Ted Garber has been rotating his goalies this season, he’s confirmed that not only will Rodgers get the start against his former team, but also that he’s excited to face them. Good to know for Ohio.
If you enjoyed watching ECAC lacrosse this season, this is clearly the game for you. While Reid Acton and Tucker Durkin joined the team in time to play against the Hounds on Friday, the Nationals have also activated Josh Hawkins (fifth overall MLL draft pick and Acton’s Loyola teammate) for tonight’s game. If you saw Hawkins play in college, you know he’s capable of impacting a game in a number of different ways, and Hamilton coach Dave Huntley said he fits the style of two-way midfielder that the team is looking for.
Speaking of ECAC rookies, the Machine activated Ohio State teammates Logan Schuss and Dominique Alexander (Peter Baum, you may have recently heard, is injured AND LXM-bound) in time for this game, along with Tewaaraton finalist Marcus Holman from UNC. It’s the debut of the new-look Ohio Machine, and no team has more invested in their incoming draft class.
While Garber acknowledges that rookies face a steep learning curve when joining the MLL, Holman and Schuss will be counted on to become key contributors in a currently struggling offense.
Here’s a little side bet (don’t gamble, kids) to get in on: Will anyone hit a two-pointer in this game? Hamilton has two on the season, and they finished with a total of five last year. While Kyle Hartzell had nine in 2012, Ohio has neither scored nor given up a single two-pointer so far in 2013. Does that change today?
Can Scott Rodgers and the Ohio Machine shut down an efficient and exciting Hamilton offense? Will the rookies on either side make an impact in their debut games? Most important, will Hamilton stay undefeated or will Ohio finally get that first win?
We’ll find out tonight.