The Chesapeake Bayhawks will battle against the Boston Cannons tonight at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md. Last time the two teams met, the Cannons prevailed in OT 15-14 behind two-time MLL Most Valuable Player Paul Rabil.
In the last meeting face-offs were key. Chris Eckcaptured 20 of 30 draws to repeatedly give the Cannons possession. Cottle and the Bayhawks recently traded for Matt Dolente, who set a Hamilton Nationals single-season record by winning 219 face-offs in 2012. Dolente, a Johns Hopkins graduate, has won 49 percent of head-to-head draws with Eck. The move was made solely for these games.
The other major key to the game for the Bayhawks is slowing down Paul Rabil. Rabil is too good to be completely stopped, but can be slowed down. The biggest way the Bayhawks can slow down Rabil is goaltending and defensively, obviously. Goalkeeper Kip Turner, who made his first All-Star appearance on Saturday, anchors a defense that ranks second in Major League Lacrosse with just 103 goals allowed. Turner stands second in the league in saves (130) and goals-against average (9.90).
“In order to get where we want to go, we need to find a way to win at home,” Cottle said. “This is the time of the year when you need to come together as a team. I would like to see our offense and defense play at a high level at the same time. We’ve gotten great play from one or the other in various games, but need both ends clicking in order to be a championship club.”