I included my most recent YouTube video above.
Sometimes it easier to show things rather than writing it all out. I'll be doing these more often so stay tuned...
Anyway, the showdown was set last Saturday when Florida travelled up to Ohio for the semifinal playoff game.
Florida got off to a slow start earlier this season, but used the draft to really improve their roster. They picked up two studs - Dylan Molloy (Brown) and Nick Mariano (Syracuse).
I wrote about Mariano back in February when he scored the last second game winner over Albany.
Florida’s star is Kiernan Mcardle. Mcardle was an All-American at St. John’s - the first ever for that program. He’s been tearing it up in the MLL for a few years now. What’s surprising is that he didn’t get selected for the USA team. He had 4 goals in this game…
Connor Buczek is Florida’s top midfielder. He’s from Cornell and can really play. He’s a big, strong guy and is just a relentless dodger. It’s obvious that Buczek and Molloy have already established a strong chemistry in just two months. It's fun watching those guys play together.
This was the third time I saw Ohio play, but it was the first time I really noticed their longstick midfielder, Ryan Karalunas. The kid is everywhere and makes lots of plays… He had an early goal in this game. I bet he's a factor tomorrow.
Couple interesting side story lines in this game...
Jake Bernhardt returned for Ohio after missing several weeks due to a knee injury. He was having a big year before getting hurt. With this game to help shake off the cobwebs, he could be a difference maker tomorrow against Denver. Oh yeah, spoiler alert… Ohio took down Florida.
Anyway, Jake’s dad, Jim Bernhardt, coaches football for the Houston Texans. (Side note: When I was reading Jim’s biography, I saw that Wes Welker is also on the Houston staff. I didn’t realize he was coaching… good stuff. Several Patriots alums on the Houston staff actually.)
Anyway, it’s beginning to make sense why the Bernhardt family is so athletic (reminds me of the Bocklet family). I’m guessing that Jim had his boys out on the field all the time as they grew up. That stuff can really help development, and it sure did with his family. Remember, Jake’s youngest brother, Jared, just won a championship at Maryland and was an All-American as a freshman. And the middle brother, Jesse, plays for the Chesapeake Bayhawks and was just hired as the defensive coordinator at Maryland. Big lacrosse and football family.
Marcus Holman had another solid day. I just discovered that he’s an assistant coach at Utah. Utah just started a new Division 1 program. I had no idea. The head coach is Marcus’s dad, Brian Holman. Brian was coaching at North Carolina before Utah (he coached Marcus there). He played at Hopkins back in the 80’s and was a 3x All-American. Another Utah assistant is Adam Ghitelman, the goalie for the Atlanta Blaze.
Utah will begin play in 2019.
Back to the game...
Ohio got out to an early 3-0 lead with the help of face-off specialist, Greg Puskuldjian. Puskuldjian played at Adelphi where he was the Division II Specialist of the Year.
Ohio’s Kyle Bernlohr got his first playoff start in net and played pretty well. But he's got lots of playoff experience. His last championship game was when he tended goal for Maryland when they lost to North Carolina in overtime in 2016.
These two guys will have to step up tomorrow if they want to take down Denver.
Florida kept things tight though. I even think Florida had a one goal lead at halftime, but was Ohio was too much to handle down the stretch. Ohio didn’t even play their best game and still won rather easily. Final score: 18-13.
The Ohio offense is just so dangerous with guys like Cannizzaro, Holman, Cockerton, Baum, Schrieber… and now Bernhardt. Kyle Harrison plays a lot as well...
In my opinion, Florida has 3 to 4 really good offensive players, whereas Ohio has 6 to 7. That goes a long way in the MLL.
Denver has some guns as well.
Tune in tomorrow night. Should be a good one.