Oct 29th, 2012 | Ready for Reading on November 3rd
by Jimmy Brunner
It has not always been the easiest of roads for the Charlotte Copperheads. Off field issues delayed their inception season from the spring to the fall and several teams found it difficult to continue play in the 2012 season. But these issues have not affected the play of the Copperheads on the field, who stand at 3-1 on the season (2-1 in Professional Lacrosse League division play) and are clearly the class of the PLL.
The Copperheads opened their season on the road in Jacksonville on September 15 and came away with a 19-14 win against the Bullies. The victory was in large part due to the performance of Matt Hickman, who scored four goals in that game and has been the Copperheads top scorer in 2012. The two teams met again on September 24 with Hickman again scoring four goals, but a rough scoreless 2nd period sunk the Copperheads chances as Jacksonville eked out a 12-9 win. The Copperheads bounced back with a dominating 18-10 win over a future PLL team in the Syracuse Stingers on October 4, where Hickman tallied another three goals with Ethan Farrell and team captain Ryan Hotaling each adding four. “Our offense moves the ball well and are unselfish. Defensively, we have been improving every game,” said Copperheads head coach Tom Ryan.
The Copperheads have indeed continued to improve, staying hot offensively and gaining another 18-10 victory in their first meeting with the Reading Rockets on October 12. Farrell and Hickman scored a combined seven goals and top prospect Sam Bradman scored three in his PLL debut. The Copperheads will certainly look to continue this strong offensive output in the several games remaining in the 2012 season.
This is not to discount the key performances at goaltender or defense though. All Tory Stevens (pictured, right) wanted was a chance to play professionally, and he has shown this season that he can handle the workload of a starting goalie. Brad Conlon played half of the debut game, while Matt LeBlanc played the second half against Syracuse, but otherwise it has been solely the Seneca Nation of New York member Stevens manning the net for Charlotte. “We have a great, underrated goalie trio and any of us could start, but to have this chance has been humbling,” said Stevens. “This whole experience has been so great.” Defensively, Alex Burkhead, Erik Holt, Mike O’Brien, Greg Watterson, and Spencer Wims have provided many hard hits and helped Stevens lessen his workload by forcing turnovers and limiting their opponents time of possession.
The Copperheads have 5 games left scheduled for the 2012 season, but they are not looking past their next one on November 3rd. Though Reading has yet to be victorious in the 2012 season, the Copperheads will treat this game no differently than a championship game. Charlotte’s professional indoor lacrosse team has left everything on the field inside of Bojangles Coliseum in each of their games so far and fans can expect the same on November 3rd.