5/3/12 3:00 PM
ANNAPOLIS, MD - Considering the Ohio Machine is an expansion franchise that did not play on the opening weekend of Major League Lacrosse (MLL), the Chesapeake Bayhawks coaching staff will have a difficult time devising a game-plan for Saturday night’s home opener at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
“Obviously we don’t know a whole lot about them. We know some of the individual parts, but we have no idea how they will operate as a whole unit,” Chesapeake head coach Dave Cottle said of the Machine.
Cottle isn’t all that concerned because this early in the season the main goal is to make sure the Bayhawks are coming together as a team. Chesapeake went on the road and beat Long Island, 13-11, in Saturday’s season opener, but Cottle said there is much improvement to be made.
“Right now, our complete focus is on trying to improve ourselves. We need to get better from week to week if we want to be a factor in this league,” he said.
Chesapeake must get better at the face-off stripe after winning just 6 of 25 draws on Saturday. Cottle said Long Island’s Greg Gurenlian is one of the league’s best and is not ready to give up on Adam Rand just yet.
“I thought Adam battled from beginning to end against Gurenlian, who is going to give a lot of people trouble this season,” Cottle said. “That being said, we are going to have competition in practice this week and see what happens. The big question is whether we dress one or two faceoff guys.”
Cottle also believes the Bayhawks can handle the ball better than they did against the Lizards when they committed turnovers. “I didn’t think our stick-work was all that great. We were a little sloppy at times. Our players have a higher expectation in that area,” he said.
Third-year midfielder and Bud Light MVP Ben Hunt totaled five points while rookie goalie T.C. DiBartolo made 15 saves in his pro debut to lead Chesapeake against Long Island. The Bayhawks were short-handed as four key veterans are still playing indoor professional lacrosse while other players were unavailable due to injury.
“I think for the first time out, on the road against a tough Long Island squad with a rookie goalie and without some big guns, it was a good first step for the Bayhawks,” Cottle said. “I think this team has a huge upside. We haven’t even scratched surface of how good we can be.”
Two of Chesapeake’s National Lacrosse League players, projected starting attackman Drew Westervelt and primary short stick defensive midfielder Jeff Reynolds, have a playoff game Friday night. If the Philadelphia Wings lose, Reynolds and Westervelt could potentially play for the Bayhawks on Saturday, Cottle said
Short stick defensive midfielder Brian Clayton got injured against Long Island and won’t play this weekend. If Reynolds doesn’t replace Clayton, former Delaware midfielders Kevin Kaminski and John Austin are candidates to do so. Austin, whom the Bayhawks drafted 61st overall this past January, just completed his senior season for the Blue Hens.
Ohio, under the direction of head coach Ted Garber, has proven MLL veterans such as attackman Chazz Woodson, face-off specialist Anthony Kelly, long stick defensive midfielder Kyle Hartzell, and close defenseman Greg Bice. Andrew “Buggs” Combs, one of the finest attackmen in Bayhawks and MLL history, came out of retirement to join the Machine and “has been unbelievable, like the offensive quarterback,” according to Garber.
“The first game for any team is always interesting and this should be particularly so since it’s the first game in franchise history,” said Garber, a former collegiate head coach with extensive experience in the MLL. “I want to see how the players handle a real game, how they react once it’s lights, camera, action.”
G&G Outfitters will serve as title sponsor of Saturday night’s game (7:00 pm) and will give glow in the dark maracas to the first 1,000 fans. The Bayhawks will also debut the Lexus VIP Tailgate party (5:00 pm - 6:30 pm) with complimentary Bud Light for all season ticket holders and sponsors. Lexus will also provide a VIP parking area for anyone driving a Lexus vehicle that night.
The Severn Savings Bank Kids’ Zone will feature a 30x60 Fiddlestick Field and a rock climbing wall provided by Big Vanilla Athletic Club. There will be a corn hole tournament and live music by the rock band Mad Planet. Fans should stay in their seats after the game for a fabulous fireworks display.
Having turned the head coach reins over to Cottle, Chesapeake owner Brendan Kelly personally oversaw improvements to the tailgate party and pregame festivities. “My first two years I focused on putting a quality product on the field. Now I can turn my attention to making the fan experience the best it can be. The Bayhawks want to be the team and Major League Lacrosse wants to be the sport that caters to families, and our fans are going to find the Lexus Tailgate Party to be very family friendly.”
Bayhawks tickets can be purchased online at www.thebayhawks.comor over the phone by calling the box office 866-99-HAWKS (42957). Reserve your seat today and see the Bayhawks battle at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium this summer.
For the Bayhawks full schedule go to www.thebayhawks.com.
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