Well the 2017 Major League Lacrosse schedule was released a couple of weeks ago. I figured I would analyze it and pick out one key match up per week to keep an eye on!
Week 1: Denver Outlaws vs. Charlotte Hounds
- Reigning, defending 2016 MLL champion Denver Outlaws open the season on the road against a good, young Charlotte team who really got the chemistry flowing later on in the season.
Week 2: Denver Outlaws vs. New York Lizards
- Back-to-back road games for the Denver Outlaws to open their season, this one against a strong New York squad, who might have lost JoJo Marasco, but they gained a dangerous Joe Walters from Chesapeake (who quit NLL to focus on MLL full time).
Week 3: Rochester Rattlers vs. Ohio Machine
- Battle of the goalies. Both teams have MVP caliber goalies, both with very different styles. Fighting out of the red corner, From Rochester, NY.... John Galloway. Syracuse alumni, Galloway is a very technical goalie who has the athleticism to carry the ball the length of the field. Now, fighting out of the blue corner, from Columbus, Ohio.... Scotty Rodgers. "The Big Guy" is an absolute beast from Notre Dame. Built like a brick wall, whose not afraid to knock you out if you step too close to his crease.
Week 4: New York Lizards vs. Atlanta Blaze
Another solid test for the Blaze, entering their second professional season against the powerhouse New York Lizards. The Blaze is stacked, no doubt about that. Ghitelman in the cage, Hawkins an exception D-mid, Ratliff one of the most dangerous young poles, Then the combination of Staats, Donahue, and Rice back together again since their time at 'Cuse. The 'zards have that chemistry tho, so Atlanta is going to have their work cut out for them.
Week 5: Charlotte Hounds vs. Ohio Machine
- Rematch of a week 2 matchup, The Hounds travel to Ohio this time. 2016 runner up Ohio Machine play solid team lacrosse, and the Hounds are looking at another shot at redemption against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year. Not to mention that Charlotte bolstered their roster during the off season with the addition of Deemer Class and Wells Stanwick.
Week 6: Florida Launch vs. Ohio Machine
- Coming off a miserable 3-11 season last year, The Florida Launch looks to be on the right track at this point in the season. On paper they are an extremely talented team, but lacrosse isn't played on paper. The Launch is filled with all-star players so hopefully they will have things corrected. But Casey Powell was lost to retirement, sad day for lacrosse, and sad day for the launch. Missing a huge locker room presence.
Week 7: Florida Launch vs. New York Lizards
- Back-to-back tough games for the reigning worst in the league Florida Launch. Just about the midway point of the season where teams should be firing on all cylinders. So this New York team should be a force to be reckoned with.
Week 8: Atlanta Blaze vs. Charlotte Hounds
- Atlanta's Dylan Donahue and Charlotte's Deemer Class take on their former teams this week. Teams traded one ACC talent for another! Both teams in my opinion improved during the off season so this should be a high scoring game.
Week: 9: Atlanta Blaze vs. Florida Launch
- MLL's two newest and southernmost teams; aside from an improving Florida team and an improved Atlanta squad, this game has bigger implications. It represents the growth of the sport. Traditionally, lacrosse has been a north eastern sport, but with the University of Denver winning the NCAA championship and the newest expansion teams coming to the south, the growth of the game isn't showing any signs of stopping.
Week: 10: New York Lizards vs. Denver Outlaws
- Another week 2 rematch. Both teams looking to be firing on all cylinders full steam ahead. Should be a better match up then the week 2 performance.
Week 11: Ohio Machine vs. New York Lizards
- The week before the all-star break. Off the field, Scotty Rodgers (G, Ohio) and Paul Rabil (M, NY) are best buds. Going to be interesting to see who gets bragging rights.
Week 12: Denver Outlaws vs. Ohio Machine
- That point in the season when things start to really heat up. The fun and games and all the distractions of the all star break are behind us and teams start to gear up towards the playoffs. Couldn't think of a better time for a rematch of last season's championship game.
Week 13: Ohio Machine vs. Denver Outlaws
- That point in the season when things start to really heat up. The fun and games and all the distractions of the all star break are behind us and teams start to gear up towards the playoffs. Couldn't think of a better time for a rematch of last season's championship game....... That's right. Back-to-back championship rematches. AWESOME.
Week 14: Chesapeake Bayhawks vs. Denver Outlaws
- 2 weeks left in the regular season, in my opinion Denver should by now have secured a playoff birth and should be trying to spoil Chesapeake's chances. Don't quote me on that, that's just what I THINK might happen. (But if it actually does happen go ahead and quote me).
Week 15: Charlotte Hounds vs. New York Lizards
- Last week of the regular season and same scenario as above. The Lizards should be trying to keep the Hounds out of the playoffs. Every team in the MLL is highly competitive, but the Hounds are one team I think teams wouldn't want to see in the playoffs.
Championship Prediction: New York Lizards vs. Ohio Machine
- A team of household names in the Lizards, against who I believe is the best all around team in the MLL. Ohio was within reach of a championship last season, which I think gives them the confidence and the chip on their shoulder to make it back to championship weekend. While New York was knocked out earlier than they had hoped and look to redeem themselves as well.