U.S. National Team Members Will Play Before Departing For World Games
There will be a lot on the line for the Chesapeake Bayhawks on Saturday night when they host the Boston Cannons at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The Bayhawks will be seeking to snap a three-game losing streak along with a two-game skid at home. It’s a crucial contest because it is one of only two remaining home dates for the Bayhawks and comes just before the franchise has three key players depart for the 2010 Federation of International Lacrosse World Championships.
“This is certainly a must-win game in many respects," Chesapeake general manager Spencer Ford said. We’re struggling a bit right now and we need to get back into the win column,” We’re looking to send our world team guys off on a good note and we’re looking to get back to playing the way we were earlier this season when we were leading the league.”
Chesapeake (4-4) has fallen into a tie for third place with Chicago (4-4) behind Boston (5-3) and Denver (5-3) in Major League Lacrosse. This weekend’s slate of games come on the heels of Thursday night’s MLL All-Star game and just prior to when every team in the league loses top players to the world championships, being held July 15-24 in Manchester, England.
The Bayhawks are being hit hard as perennial All-Pro midfielder Kyle Dixon, starting defenseman Joe Cinosky and dominating faceoff specialist Alex Smith are all part of the U.S. squad. Dixon is the team’s second-leading scorer with 26 points, Smith leads the MLL with a .595 faceoff percentage (144-for-242) while Cinosky has proven himself a bruising shutdown defender.
“We definitely lose three very important players, but their absence gives other guys a chance to step up and shine,” Ford said. “I think we’ve been leaning heavily on certain key players to make things happen and perhaps this will spark others on the team to take some initiative.”
To minimize the impact on their professional teams, the U.S. players will play in games this weekend before departing for England on Monday. That, combined with the fact the MLL is taking the weekend of July 17-18 off, means the world team members will miss just one game. Chesapeake will be without Cinosky, Dixon and Smith for the July 22 road game at Long Island, which will be missing midfielders Matt Zash and Stephen Peyser.
Ford said Chesapeake will likely activate Ben DeFelice to handle faceoff duties in Smith’s absence. DeFelice, a Towson University graduate, has played in 38 games over six seasons in the MLL and won 105 of 238 draws while with Boston in 2008. Recent draft choice Sam DeVore (Johns Hopkins) could dress in place of Cinosky while the Bayhawks have a bevy of midfielders to fill in for Dixon.
“With those three guys gone we will have to turn to some new people and hope they play with tremendous energy and passion,” Ford said.
Chesapeake probably needs to win two of its four remaining games to secure one of four berths in the postseason. The MLL Championship weekend is being held at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and team president Brendan Kelly has vowed the Bayhawks will be on hand to host.
“If we win two more games we’re in. I’d like to win all our remaining games, but the bottom line is that I want to get to championship weekend and have home-field advantage… I don’t care what color jersey we’re wearing,” Ford said.
Midfielder Brian Vetter, the team’s second-leading goal-scorer with 17, said the Bayhawks need to shake off the losing streak and pick up a crucial victory at home. “This is definitely a huge game for us. We need to realize that all teams go through slumps and put that behind us, come out with total confidence and play the way we are capable,” he said. “I feel we match up pretty well with Boston. Our playing styles are fairly similar – we’re both run-and-gun type of teams so it should be a high-scoring game.”
Tickets for Saturday night’s game are available and can be purchased by calling 866-99-HAWKS or visiting