Bayhawks focusing high against lowly Cannons

Winner in MLL semifinal plays for title on Monday

Pro Lacrosse

September 01, 2001|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

All season long, Bayhawks coach Brian Voelker has talked to his team about the danger in taking another Major League Lacrosse team lightly.

Voelker will find out at 4:30 p.m. today just how well his 10-4 team has been listening when the Nationals Division champions play the Boston Cannons (3-11) in the league semifinals at Kennedy Stadium in Bridgeport, Conn.

"We've talked a lot about it at practice," said Voelker. "We have been good enough to beat Long Island and Rochester twice, and not good enough [in losing] to Bridgeport, which didn't even make the playoffs.

"Our guys know if they don't play their game and [don't] do what they are capable of, we could be in trouble."

The Boston/Bayhawks winner will play either Long Island or Rochester, which face off in this afternoon's other semifinal, for the inaugural MLL title on Monday in Bridgeport. But Voelker warns that the championship game is much too far to look ahead.

"Our guys are pretty focused on Boston. We know this is for a chance to play in a championship game, and we cannot look forward or past them," Voelker said.

Factor Boston's subpar record in with one of the Bayhawks' few flaws - a tendency to play down to competition - and you can understand why Voelker and company are hardly overconfident.

"They have nothing to lose and everything to gain, and that's a dangerous situation to be in," said midfielder and faceoff specialist Paul Cantabene. "We have to be ready from the opening whistle. Every team in this league is good, even if their record doesn't show it."

After their performance last week, a convincing 20-9 decision against a New Jersey Pride team that needed a win to make the playoffs, the Bayhawks are wondering just how good they can be. Aside from some minor second-half lapses - easily chalked up to the lopsided score - the Bayhawks played a perfect game.

Boston, coached by St. Paul's lacrosse coach Mitch Whiteley, is also coming in high. The injury-riddled Cannons, thanks to Greg Traynor's overtime goal and solid goaltending from Billy Daye, defeated Bridgeport, 15-14, last week to clinch a playoff berth.

Boston and the Bayhawks have met twice. The Bayhawks won in Boston on June 11 by 14-13, then dominated the Cannons, 18-12, last month at home.

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