The Rochester Rattlers host the Ohio Machine for the MLL Semi Finals.
Its playoff time! The regular season has ended and now the players are playing for a chance at a ring. As the cliché goes it’s win or go home. The Rattlers and Machine are very familiar with each other having matched up already in weeks 7 and 13. Ohio won both games taking the first matchup 18-13 and the second 17-15. Still talking with Rattlers players they are hungry and ready to go while the Machine are confident they have the squad to win a championship.
Rochester comes in with the league’s top defensive unit. It’s a group that has mostly played together for the last few seasons. They are able to key off each other’s cues and draw a great deal of emotion from their leaders John Galloway and Mike Manley. They have played statistically two of their worst games of the season against this Machine team and talking to a player after the seeding’s were announced he said “We want another shot at them, we need that revenge.” Rochester’s offense has some big names but they do their best work when sharing the ball and everyone gets involved. This team has averaged 15.4 goals per game in the 2nd half of the season after averaging 12.1 early on. They have guys who can take over a game and they have quiet killers that do all the little things well.
Ohio is an offensive juggernaut, they light up the score board constantly and have so many offensive weapons that teams have struggled with who to match up with all season long. They have shored up the faceoff position with the addition of Bobby Dattilo and they are masterful to watch in transition. But unlike Rochester they have a weakness. Ohio made the playoffs despite the 2nd worst defense in the league. They have some great players back there but they have yet to become a sum of their parts and they have played poorly at times. Brian Phipps finished 8th in the league in goals against average and last among starting goalies in save percentage but the offense keeps them in every game allowing Phipps to finish the season with a winning record. I have said it numerous times this season and it feels like in Ohio the guys are playing for the guy next to them. Refusing to let their play let their teammates down. So far it has worked.
Players to watch:
John Galloway- Rochester’s goalie has had a great season, he has been the best goalie in the league all season long but he has not figured out this Ohio team yet and at times looks like he is flailing around trying to make saves against them. He will need a big game to help his team get the win.
Dana Wilber- The Machine defender is the reigning MLL defensive player of the week and got some high praise from his coach on the conference call this week. He will need to matchup against a Rochester attack that has been playing its best lacrosse the last few weeks. But Ohio is also the only team all season that has all but negated Jordan Wolfe from a game.
Keys to Victory:
Play effective defense and get transition goals. Rochester has shown a weakness when it’s Omids get caught playing too much defense.
Dominate the faceoff X and keep your offense hot. Don’t allow multiple goal runs like they have to Ohio in both loses.
It is so hard to beat a team twice in this league and it’s very hard to beat them on the road. Ohio is going to have to go in to Rochester and win for a 2nd time when Rochester’s only loss at home was to the Machine. It just seems like a huge task. Plus this is the Rattlers year, they take this one 16-15.