6/7/12 5:30 PM
ANNAPOLIS, MD – Denver and Long Island are two of the toughest places to win in Major League Lacrosse. Hamilton is one of the most grueling road trips for other MLL teams. The Chesapeake Bayhawks have already secured victories at all three venues in compiling an impressive 3-0 road record.
“We feel very good about what we’ve been able to accomplish on the road so far. Our players have done a great job of being true professionals on the road. They have been spending time together and developing chemistry and have showed a level of toughness in hostile environments,” Chesapeake head coachDave Cottle said. “Our two longest road trips of the season are out of the way, which is a plus.”
Chesapeake (4-1) now begins a three-game home stand looking to capitalize on that road success. If the Bayhawks can hold serve at home during the month of June, they could build their record to 7-1 and put themselves in great position for the playoffs.
“I thought toward the end of last season we played very poorly at home. Our only loss this season, and by far our poorest performance, was at home. We need to turn that around,” Cottle said. “These home games are important to our management and to our fans so they should be even more important to our players. We need to play with great effort, great energy, and great enthusiasm. Defending our home turf should be a priority.”
It all starts Saturday night at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium when Chesapeake hosts the expansion Charlotte Hounds (1-4). It will be the first opportunity for fans to get a first-hand look at some of the newer Bayhawks, including high-scoring attackman John Grant, Jr.
Grant made a spectacular debut by totaling seven points on two goals and five assists to key a 20-7 rout of Hamilton. The powerful and wily Canadian then contributed two unassisted goals and two assists in last Saturday night’s thrilling 18-16 defeat of Denver.
“We have several midfielders that can beat a defender from up top. John gives us a strong dodging personality from behind the cage. He has the ability to get leverage on his man for an inside shot,” Cottle said.
Cottle said the other Chesapeake offensive players are still learning how to play with Grant, whose one-on-one ability can be mesmerizing. “When John gets the ball and goes to the goal, there is a tendency to stand around and watch him work. Our players need to realize that John is a tremendous passer. If you’re moving and getting open, he will find you,” Cottle said.
Fans will also get their first look at close defender Nicky Polanco, whom the Bayhawks acquired from Long Island in exchange for first round draft pick C.J. Costabile (Duke). Polanco, a two-time Warrior Defensive Player of the Year, is a fierce competitor and intimidating presence at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds.
A pair of rookies made their Bayhawks debut last Saturday and Cottle felt midfielders Brent Adams and Matt Mackrides acquitted themselves well. Adams, selected out of Fairfield with the 53rd pick of the MLL Draft, is a tenacious short stick defender who is strong on ground balls and in transition. Mackrides, picked 26th overall out of Penn State, is a collegiate attackman who will work as an offensive midfielder for the Bayhawks.
“Drew and Matt are both very athletic, very fast and understand the game. I’ve been impressed with how quickly they’ve picked things up,” Cottle said.
Chesapeake has placed first line midfielder Ben Hunt on the two-game injured reserve after he tweaked a hamstring against Denver on Saturday. Hunt is tied for fourth on the team in scoring with 12 points. Cottle said attackman Danny Glading will start this Saturday and Ben Rubeor will move to midfield.
Cottle said veteran Joey Kemp or rookie T.C. DiBartolo will start between the pipes. DiBartolo started the season opener at Long Island and was outstanding with 15 saves then started the home opener versus Ohio and stopped six shots in the first half. Kemp played the second half versus Ohio and responded with a career-high 10 saves. The fifth-year veteran out of Notre Dame also started against Rochester and stopped seven shots in the first half.
Charlotte, under the direction of head coach Mike Cerino, has struggled defensively – allowing an average of almost 17 points per game. Midfielder Stephen Berger (21 points) is the leading scorer for the Hounds, whose lone victory came over fellow expansion franchise Ohio. Like any MLL team, the Hounds have some additional firepower in the form of attackmen Matt Danowski and Jeremy Boltus along with midfielder Brian Carroll, a former Bayhawks standout.
It will be Youth Night at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and sponsor Severn Savings Bank will give away fiddle sticks to youngsters. The Bayhawks will also be hosting Hawk-Eye’s birthday in the tailgate area.
The Bayhawks return home on Saturday, June 9th to battle the Charlotte Hounds. 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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