Tuesday, December 13, 2011

MISL Round Up Week 6

Article by Nicholas Murray

MISL Weekly Round-Up

The Milwaukee Wave continue to roll, Baltimore’s return home from the road is a surprisingly tough one, and defensive players providing offensive firepower are in the spotlight in this week’s MISL Round-Up.


Trailing the Rochester Lancers by seven points midway through the first quarter of Saturday night’s game at U.S. Cellular Arena, the Milwaukee Wave appeared to be undergoing a major challenge to their undefeated record.

As quickly as the Wave fell behind, though, they were able to regain control. A pair of goals by Joe Hammes, including a 3-pointer with 10 seconds to play in the quarter, put Milwaukee on top 11-7, and the Wave went on to a 24-9 victory.

The Wave are only six games into their regular season, compared with Missouri which this weekend reached the midway point with a pair of victories against Norfolk and Baltimore, but already some are talking about the possibility of the side going undefeated. That’s probably a little premature, the MISL has already thrown up some very surprising results this season, but the dominance Milwaukee has shown so far this season certainly puts them at the top of the pack when it comes to picking a favorite to claim the league championship in March.


Coming off five consecutive road victories, the Baltimore Blast were expected to continue the strong form they’d shown in recent weeks upon their return to 1st Mariner Arena this weekend. Unfortunately for the home fans, it didn’t work out that way as the Blast dropped a pair of tight games to Missouri and Syracuse, cutting their lead to 1.5 games in the Eastern Division.

Remarkably, the Blast are still winless at home this season, with a pair of victories being claimed by the Silver Knights, who sit in second place in the division. As surprising as Syracuse’s victory in the Blast’s home opener appeared, Saturday’s 12-9 victory was maybe even more surprising considering the runs of form both teams had shown entering the contest. While the Blast had fallen the previous night, 12-10 to Missouri, to snap their winning streak, the Silver Knights had entered the game on a five-game losing streak where they had conceded an average of 21 points-per game.

On Saturday, though, the Silver Knights did the dirty work in front of goalkeeper Eric Reed, blocking 14 of the Blast’s 26 total shots, and after a pair of late third-quarter goals got them back on even terms, Jeff Hughes’ 3-pointer with just under six minutes to go proved decisive in a 12-9 Syracuse victory.
It’s very unlikely that the Blast’s problems at home will persist, they’ve already lost more games at home this season than they did in the 2010-11 regular season when they went 8-2. But you’d certainly think a win on Friday against Missouri would certainly take a little weight of their shoulders.


As you’d expect, the league’s point-scoring leaders are heavily populated by forwards, but sitting just outside the top 10 are three defenders who are having a big impact on their respective teams offensive fortunes with 19 points apiece.
Milwaukee’s Joe Hammes was named the MISL Defender of the Month for November not just because of his defensive prowess, but also the firepower he brought to the Wave’s attack. Averaging a shade over three points-per game, Hammes had a seven-point night in the Wave’s victory against Rochester on Saturday, and has contributed five assists, tied for most among defenders with teammate Evan McNeley.

Syracuse’s Jeff Hughes, as mentioned earlier, played a key role in the Silver Knights’ victory against Baltimore. His game-winning 3-pointer was his second long-range effort of the season, and he leads all defenders with eight total goals.

Lastly, Missouri’s Ryan Junge has made a strong impact in the Comets’ season so far. Tied for the league-lead with three 3-pointers, Junge has been arguably the most consistent offensive defender this season. Junge has had a point in six of the Comets’ 10 games this season, including three five-point nights.

Other defenders have also had an impact. Norfolk’s Brady Bryant also has three 3-point goals, while Baltimore’s Mike Lookingland and Milwaukee’s JP Rodrigues are also averaging close to two points-per game. The trio of Hammes, Hughes and Junge, though, are the leading examples so far of how defenders can have a crucial impact for their team’s offense.

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