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Chesapeake Looks to Bounce Back Against Boston After First Loss of Season

6/3/10 12:00 AM



Annapolis, MD– The Chesapeake Bayhawks will seek to rebound from their first loss of the season on Friday night when they host the Boston Cannons (7:30 p.m.) at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Chesapeake looked like a serious contender for the Major League Lacrosse championship while opening the season with impressive victories over Long Island and Toronto. However, the Bayhawks were brought back down to earth a bit last Saturday by the Chicago Machine.

Chesapeake fell behind early and was forced to play catch-up the rest of the way against Chicago in falling 17-14.  A four-hour bus ride to Pittsburgh the day of the game did not help the Bayhawks, but head coach John Tucker said that is no excuse.

“I think the biggest thing I want to see against Boston is for the team to play with a sense of urgency at the beginning of the game,” Tucker said. “That means getting after the ground balls with tenacity, not giving up any second-chance opportunities on defense and shooting a higher percentage on offense.”

Tucker said the Bayhawks were beaten to the 50-50 balls, committed too many unforced turnovers and struggled in the clearing game against Chicago. Those shortcomings, coupled with an inability to win faceoffs, had the Bayhawks playing too much defense in that game.

Despite a rare off night against the Machine, Alex Smith still leads the MLL with a .663 faceoff percentage. Tucker expects the United States national team member to regain his dominant form against Boston. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Chris Garrity ranks among the league leaders with a .577 save percentage and an 11.53 goals-against average.

“I think Garrity has been very solid, very consistent in all three games. It wasn’t his fault we gave up 17 goals last weekend. That was a by-product of not possessing the ball enough,” Tucker said.

Coach Tucker has also been pleased with the overall play of midfielders Peet Poillon and Kyle Dixon this season. Poillon, a second-year pro out of UMBC, has displayed superb shooting range and leads the MLL with 17 points on nine goals (one 2-pointer) and seven assists. Dixon, a three-time MLL All-Star, is tied for third with 12 points.

While Poillon and Dixon have been mainstays on the first midfield, they have been joined by Brian Vetter, Ben Hunt and John Christmas at various times. Tucker said Jed Prossner, the sixth-year pro out of North Carolina, will be active for Friday night’s game and will get some run with the first midfield.

Tucker feels starting attackmen Andrew “Buggs” Combs, Ben Rubeor and Danny Glading – all three of whom has totaled eight points – have been effective so far. Joe Cinosky, Mike Evans and Ray Megill have formed the starting close defense in all three games with P.T. Ricci handling long stick midfielder duties. Last week, Chesapeake welcomed back versatile defender Kyle Hartzell, who missed the first two games of the season while helping the Washington Stealth capture the Major League Lacrosse professional indoor championship.

The Bayhawks lost short stick defensive midfielder Benson Erwin for six weeks after the former Johns Hopkins standout suffered a broken toe in the season opener.  Attackman Jeff Zywicki, acquired in a trade with Toronto during the offseason, will not play at all in 2010 due to a knee injury suffered during the indoor campaign.

Boston and Chesapeake are among four teams tied atop the MLL standings with 2-1 records so Friday night’s contest will enable one team to separate from the pack a bit. The Cannons, who are coming off a 13-11 loss to Long Island, are led by attackmen Matt Poskay (Virginia) and Ryan Boyle (Princeton) along with midfielder Paul Rabil (Johns Hopkins). Poskay ranks second in the MLL with 14 points while Boyle has contributed 11. Rabil, the 2009 MLL Most Valuable Player, scored 14 points in two regular season games against the Bayhawks last season.

“We didn’t show up and play with the type of energy we needed to against Chicago, and the coaching staff rightfully got after us for that,” said Dixon, noting that team management called a mandatory practice for Thursday night. “It’s definitely important to come out strong against Boston. We need to prove we’re the team that played so well against Long Island and Toronto and not the one that struggled against Chicago.”

Tickets for Friday night’s contest are available and can be purchased by calling 866-99-HAWKS or visiting www.thebayhawks.com.


 



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