By Photo: ęchris casella www.chriscasella.com | 4/12/12 9:00 AM
Training Camp: Open to public Sunday, April 15, and Sunday, April 22, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Upper Arlington Marv Moorehead Stadium. Watch the pros train and receive autographs after sessions are over at 3 p.m.
2012 Ohio Machine Inaugural Season Preview
Last April the Ohio Machine was just getting off the ground. It had zero players on its roster and were only just contemplating the choices for a stadium. Less than a year later the Ohio Machine has a full 40-man roster and is less than a month away from playing its first game against the Chesapeake Bayhawks in Annapolis, MD.
Beginning a team from scratch can be a long, arduous process and for the Machine this process started in January 2011 when Major League Lacrosse Commissioner David Gross announced that Columbus, Ohio, had been awarded the latest MLL franchise. From that moment on, the Machine’s gears were set in motion and haven’t stopped since!
The first big announcement for the team happened in August when historic Selby Stadium at Ohio Wesleyan University was announced as the home field for the Machine for its 2012 and 2013 seasons. Selby Stadium is a newly renovated 9,100 seat stadium located in downtown Delaware, Ohio. Home field wasn’t the only big announcement that day – the team also announced the hiring of legendary coach Ted Garber as the team’s first-ever head coach. Garber has been an MLL coach since the MLL started in 2001 and is also an extremely successful college and high school lacrosse coach who was recognized by U.S. Lacrosse for his 200th career victory back in 2008.
Less than two months later the team acquired its first players in MLL hotshots Greg Bice (Ohio State), Anthony Kelly (Ohio State), Stefan Schroder (Ohio State) and Brett Garber (UMass). A week later the team traded for 2010 MLL Championship Weekend MVP Kyle Hartzell (Salisbury). With the team’s solid foundation in place, it turned its attention to the Expansion and Supplemental Drafts held in December.
Through these drafts the team continued to build a strong core of players for the upcoming season. With its first pick in the Expansion Draft, the Machine selected popular attackman Connor Martin (Chapman). The team also added veteran midfielder Jordan Levine (Albany), defenseman Brett Hughes (UVA) and midfielder Matt Casey (Ithaca). The Machine continued to pick up MLL stars during the Supplemental Draft, including longtime MLL attackman Chazz Woodson (Brown), who will likely see some time at midfield this season.
The team solidified its roster in January when it drafted nine players in the Collegiate Draft. The draftees include 2011 Tewaaraton Award winner and Virginia attackman Steele Stanwick, Duke midfielder Robert Rotanz and Bucknell attackman Billy Eisenreich.
The team’s roster is now set heading into training camp, which will be held on April 14-15 and April 21-22 – opened to the public on Sundays April 15 and 22.. The roster consists of 16 midfielders, 11 defensemen, eight attackmen and five goalies. The roster that has been put together makes for an extremely competitive training camp with all the positions up for grabs.
At the midfield position, the team features MLL veterans Matt Casey, Brett Garber, Anthony Kelly, Jordan Levine and Chazz Woodson. These five players have played in a combined 233 games and have amassed more than 240 points. The rest of the midfielders include Dan Groot (Maryland), Will Harrington (Towson), Scott Kocis (Georgetown), Nick Marks (Bucknell), Matt Messina (NYIT), Josh Porcell (UMBC), Matt Witko (Tufts) and Joel Zalesky (Seton Hill). Kelly provides the Machine with a significant veteran at face-off but will also have competition in Nolan Godfrey (Merrimack) and Eric O’Brien (Ohio State). Throughout his MLL career Kelly has won 881 face-offs, which is second among active players, only trailing Chesapeake’s Alex Smith who has 1,029 career face-off wins.
From day one the Machine have focused on putting together a formidable defense. The team’s defense has four former MLL All-Stars, which include Greg Bice, Kyle Hartzell, Brett Hughes (UVA) and Ray Megill. Hartzell and Megill are also former MLL Champions, winning the title in 2010 with the Chesapeake Bayhawks. But those veterans can all be pushed for playing time because of newcomers, including Matt Cafarelli (Ohio State), Audi Glass (Bishop’s), Andrew Irving (Notre Dame), Kevin Ridgway (Notre Dame), Max Schmidt (Maryland), Jeff Schneider (Ohio State) and Brian Yontz (Ohio State).
The attack is led by third-year player Connor Martin. Martin played his last two seasons with the Denver Outlaws. With the Outlaws, Martin scored 13 goals and had four assists in seven games. During his rookie season, Martin was named MLL Rookie of the Week after scoring a hat trick and having an assist in his MLL Debut. Joining Martin at attack is veteran Buggs Combs (Maryland). Combs began his MLL career in 2003 with the Bayhawks. Combs scored a career high of 34 goals in 2008. Combs now has 132 career goals in 59 games and won a championship as captain with the Bayhawks in 2010. Martin and Combs won’t be guaranteed starters however with Jim Connolly (UMass), Josh Coveleski (Duke), Ian Dingman (Navy), Sean Doyle (Bellarmine), Mario Ventiquattro (Ohio State) and Brady Williams (Brown) right on their heels for the attack positions.
The team will have a fierce competition in the net with goalies Stefan Schroder and 2011 MLL All-Star Brian Phipps (Maryland). In his first MLL, season Phipps had a 14.14 goals against average and had 117 saves. Schroder played in one MLL game, only allowing two goals in 31 minutes for Rochester last year. The Machine will also have goalies Noah Fossner (Delaware), Johnny Rodriguez (Salisbury) and Scott Vogel (Assumption) fighting for the coveted starting keeper position.
The team begins its inaugural season on May 5th when it travels to Maryland to play the Chesapeake Bayhawks. After winning the championship in 2010, the Bayhawks finished 2011 with six wins and fell to the eventual champion Boston Cannons 14-13 in the first round of the playoffs.
The Machine will play its 2012 inaugural season home opener two weeks later on May 19th against the Rochester Rattlers, which will include several special guest appearances and unique game day experiences. On June 9th, the team begins a three-game home stand where they will face the Denver Outlaws, Long Island Lizards and fellow expansion team Charlotte Hounds. The Machine ends its season at home on August 11th when it faces the defending champion Boston Cannons.
Season tickets starting at only $100 and three-game mini plans at $45 for the Machine’s 2012 inaugural season are now on sale. Single-game tickets to the historic May 19th home opener are also on sale for just $18, with group discounts available as well. Tickets can be purchased by contacting the Machine at (614) 754-1973 or by visiting www.theohiomachine.com/tickets.