With the Ohio Machine’s 2014 season quickly approaching, TheOhioMachine.com takes a look at the midfield roster heading into training camp. Midfielders are some of the most active players on the field, both offensively and defensively. One of a midfielder’s main responsibilities is to transition the ball from defense to offense and to give the offense as many scoring opportunities as possible.
This year, the Machine returns a number of familiar faces in the midfield and a few welcomes new additions to the fold. The core group of midfielders are joined by the likes of Kyle Harrison, Peter Baum and Bill McGlone, all of whom will make their Machine debut this season.
This offseason was highlighted by the additions to the midfield starting with former Tewaaraton Award Winner, and current Team USA middie, Kyle Harrison. A veteran of MLL and a standout on the LXM PRO Tour, Harrison brings years of competitive and championship experience to the Machine. Harrison’s ability to contribute offensively while still being one of the top defensive midfielders in the game, makes him a dynamic two-way player.
“Kyle is the perfect midfielder for the Machine,” Head Coach Bear Davis said. “Sometimes a throwback midfielder can get undervalued in the age of specialism, but he brings so much to the table that is going to help our team. We are going to find a number of ways for Kyle to show his talents. With our young core of players, we found a great locker room leader the day we added Harrison to the roster.”
Peter Baum is beginning his rookie season with the Machine after being selected with the first overall pick in the 2013 MLL Collegiate Draft. Baum, who won the 2012 Tewaaraton Award, played on the LXM PRO Tour last year. His dynamic style, ability to play the entire length of the field and his ability to score in bunches, allows Baum to fit in any system.
“It was simply meant for Peter to be a part of the Machine,” Davis said. “We are very excited to have Peter join us this spring and can’t wait to see his skills on display in MLL. His combination of playmaking ability and vision are the ideal traits in a MLL midfielder.”
Bill McGlone is beginning his ninth year in the MLL but his first with the Machine. Leadership both on and off the field, as well as excellent transition, play made McGlone the top pick in the 2014 Supplemental Draft.
“Bill is a seasoned vet who can be a threat on offense and square-up on defense,” said Davis. “It’s not often you find those two abilities in the same player.”
Connor Martin is returning to the team for his third season and his fifth year in MLL. After missing a number of games last year due to injury, Martin looks to re-gain the form he had in 2012 when he posted career highs and finished second on the team in points and goals.
“Martin should be healthy and ready to roll in 2014,” Davis said. “The time off has done his body well and we know he is excited to show the MLL that he’s back.”
Kiel Matisz is beginning his third season with the Machine. In 2013, Matisz played in 10 games for the Machine, had 14 goals, four assists, and picked up six groundballs. Matisz’s size and finishing ability is a combination that cannot be taught, and his ability to play strong through the middle of the field makes him a valuable asset.
The Machine has a number of offensive midfielders looking to make an impact on the roster. Kevin Cooper and Jeff Ledwick are both very strong finishers from the midfield position. Jake Bernhardt, Greg Downing and Max Van Bourgondien are all throwbacks to the days of two-way midfielders. They all have the ability to light up the scoreboard while playing shutdown short-stick defense when their name is called.
Defensive-midfield is an area of strength for the Machine. Marshall Burkhart, Dominique Alexander and Kevin Mack all specialize in defending the opposition’s top midfielders. Their collective ability to lock down the middle of the field allows the Machine more room to operate both offensively and defensively.
At the face-off spot, the Machine enters training camp with a number of options. Eric O’Brien returns for his third season with the Machine. O’Brien has led the team in almost all face-off categories the past two years and has contributed on the defensive side of the ball when his number is called. Matt Dolente, a 2012 All-Star, enters his first season with the Machine after being acquired via a trade this off season. Bobby Dattilo enters camp looking to make an impact at the face-off position after spending the past two seasons with the Rochester Rattlers. Chase Carraro returns to the Machine in 2014 and will look to make an impact at a number of midfield spots. His ability to contribute offensively as well as take face-offs makes him a valuable asset to the team.