7/18/10 12:00 AM
The Chesapeake Bayhawks will try to end their losing streak when they take on the Long Island Lizards on Thursday, July 22 at 8 p.m.
Going into the World Championship break with a four-game losing streak, the Bayhawks used the bye week to implement change. Head Coach John Tucker stepped down, and team president, Brendan Kelly, took charge.
“We had a team meeting on Sunday, it went very well,” said Bayhawks’ General Manager Spencer Ford. “I believe the overall vibe was a good one and the MLL fans will see a passionate Bayhawks team on the field against the Lizards on Thursday.”
Maybe passion is the key to shaking off the last four losses and unlocking the talent on the Bayhawks’ roster. Despite a roster full of skill, Chesapeake hasn’t been able to produce tangible results lately. Ford feels the problem stems from focusing on the name on the back of the jersey. He added, “We need to get back to playing for each other and not for the record books.”
“When you start losing a couple games, you start questioning a lot of things. You’re questioning yourself. You start tensing up because you want to win so badly,” continued defenseman Michael Evans. “We just have to go out and play the game that we know we can play and that we’ve shown we can play in the first five weeks.”
Teamwork will be increasingly important as the Bayhawks find themselves without use of U.S. National Team Members Kyle Dixon, Alex Smith and Joe Cinosky. The two-point hot-shot, league leading face-off specialist and defenseman are in England vying for gold in the 2010 FIL World Lacrosse Championship.
Evans doesn’t think the team will miss a beat. “The great thing about the MLL is that there are so many great players,” he said. “We have some guys coming off the bench who are great players.”
“Looking at these guys, no one person will fill their shoes,” stressed Ford. “But as a team, we have a great shot at doing great things in this league from here on out.”
Going up against Long Island won’t be as simple as their last meeting when the Bayhawks trampled over the Lizards 16-8 to open the season with victory. In that first game Peet Poillon, Brian Vetter and Danny Glading fired away to set the tone for their breakout seasons. Poillon tallied seven points with five goals and two assists, while Vetter hit his first two-pointer of his career and Glading posted two goals.
Since week one, Poillon has continued to prove himself as a valuable asset to the Bayhawks. Second in the league with 37 points, Poillon leads all midfielders with 15 assists. Vetter boasts 18 goals, making him the second highest goal scorer on the team. Glading is third on the roster with 15 goals.
Long Island has one of the most physical team defenses in the league. Chesapeake’s offensive unit will have to get past Brian Spallina and Nicky Polanco. In their first meeting, the Bayhawks blanketed goaltender Drew Adams, who was making his first professional start, with 31 shots on goal. The Penn State alum made 18 saves in that game and has vastly improved as the season wore on. He now leads the league with a goals against average of 12.38.
“LI is a well coached team,” said Ford. “Their keeper has a few more games under his belt and they still have two of the best leaders in today’s game. Polanco and Spallina bring the best out of their guys.”
Although the Bayhawks’ biggest strength is scoring, the Lizards aren’t as lucky. The team’s biggest weakness is getting the ball in the cage. Without attackman Zack Greer and midfielder Stephen Peyser, both are on Team USA, the already struggling Long Island offense will continue to suffer. Greer is second to Matt Danowski in scoring with 17 goals. For any other team, it wouldn’t be a big deal for Peyser and his 11 goals on the season to miss one game, but for the Lizards it’s crucial to have anyone able to score on the field.
The team with the worst shooting percentage (26%), least shots on goal (223) and least goals scored (100) takes solace in Danowski. With 20 goals on the season, he is the player Chesapeake needs to watch. If he wants to make an assist he will, but he is the only shooter/feeder on the team. The good news for the Bayhawks, Chris Garrity has the most saves in the league and has had time to rest and prepare for this matchup.
The player the Bayhawks could miss the most is Alex Smith. Ben DeFelice is filling in for Smith this week, the last time he saw real playing time was in 2008. This season, the Bayhawks’ sub has taken just two face-offs, losing both.
Across from him will be either Greg Gurenlian or Peter Vlahakis. Either way, the matchup doesn’t look good for Chesapeake. Gurenlian has played in seven games, with a 44.59% win average on the season and a 51.04% career win average. Vlahakis has played in five games this season and won 53.76% of his face-offs and has a 57.24% career win average. The Bayhawks’ master of the X, Smith, will be sorely missed in this matchup.
Regardless of what happens at the X, the Bayhawks know they need to win to stay in the playoff race. If they’re able to win this week against Long Island and next week against Chicago, they’ll be in a good position to make the 2010 Major league Lacrosse Championship Weekend presented by Warrior.
“We just need to take it one game at a time, and then whatever happens, happens,” said Evans. “Let the chips fall where they may, but all we can control is that next game in front of us which is Long Island.”
2010 Major League Lacrosse Championship Weekend presented by Warrior
August 21-22, Annapolis, MD
For information and tickets go to www.majorleaguelacrosse.com
|07/28/2010||Week 10 Players of the Week|
|07/22/2010||Live Blog and Chat: Bayhawks vs Lizards|