March 11, 2011

Weekender: Clash of Styles for Roanoke and Dickinson in Saturday's Contest

by Jac Coyne | | Twitter

Junior middie Chip Murray and his faceoff percentage of 61.0 will play a big role in helping No. 13 Dickinson attempt to once again control the tempo against No. 5 Roanoke as they did in last year's 7-6 triumph.
© James Rasp

Despite holding a four-goal lead heading into the fourth quarter in last year's game with Dickinson, and despite restricting the Red Devils to just one goal over the first 45 minutes of action, Roanoke coach Bill Pilat had an uneasy feeling.

Boasting a 5-1 lead at the start of the final frame is not Roanoke lacrosse. The Maroons like to have double digits on the board by halftime, so this game just didn't feel right.

Pilat ended up being correct.

Dickinson scored six of the seven goals in the fourth quarter -- including a 'Noke-like three goals in 1:24 late in the game -- to rally for the 7-6 victory on the road.

"It was their kind of game. They definitely controlled tempo," said Pilat. "I'm not sure if we let down, or they came on strong, or what it was. To score five goals in three quarters is definitely not our style of play and what we want to do. What we want to do every game is establish the tempo of the game and make people chase us. [Dickinson is] a real smart team and they know they don't want to get into that."

Needing a late run of goals isn't exactly the way Dickinson likes to script their victories, which entails keeping the score low and within striking distance.

"No matter who we're playing, we want to play sound defense and an efficient offense," said Red Devils head coach Dave Webster. "We don't change what we do based on the opponent. We try to stay focused on what we do well."

The two teams will put their contrasting philosophies -- Roanoke's run-and-gun tactics versus Dickinson's Centennial-bred stingy defense -- on display Saturday when the Maroons travel to Carlisle, Pa., for a 2 p.m. faceoff.

As divergent as the strategies might have been last year, the two teams will have a pair of things in common as the prepare for this edition of the rivalry.

The first is the relative youth of the programs, especially on defense. Roanoke lost three All-Americans in close pole Sam Love and LSM Stephen Simmons, along with goalie Jake Dorsey. Dickinson lost standout netminder Tyler Magann (who should have been an All-American) and close defender Al Golod.

The second item in common is each team has a marquee player returning who will be leaned on in this contest. For Roanoke, it's player of the year candidate Justin Tuma, who is tops on the team in assists (eight) and second in points (16) while also winning 63.2 percent (55-of-87) of his faceoffs. On the Red Devils' side, it's All-American close defender John Haire, who provides Dickinson with a shutdown presence in the back.

There is also the potential for two teams to have a third trait in common this year.

During last year's campaign when Dickinson grinded out a 15-3 record in typical Centennial fashion, the Red Devils scored 15 or goals or more twice during the season -- a 15-7 win over Kenyon and a 20-8 win over York. Dave Webster's bunch has already hit the 15-point benchmark three times in its first four games.

Heck, Dickinson rookie attackman Brian Cannon already has 24 points in four contests, giving him seven more points than the highest Roanoke scorer.

"This year they are running a little more with their people and they are going to goal a little bit more, so we think they might want to play our style," said Pilat. "If they do, maybe it will be an 18-16 game this year. That would be a lot of fun."

Don't count on it, Coach.

Slides & Rides
- Keep an eye on the goalie position in the Roanoke-Dickinson contest. Both teams are still in the early process of breaking in young replacements. Sophomore Greg Hanley has played all but 10 minutes this season, racking up a 7.30 goals against average and 64.1 save percentage for Dickinson. "Tyler [Mangann] was a very good goalie, but we have a lot of confidence in Greg," said Dickinson head coach Dave Webster.

Roanoke has rolled out a platoon of sophomore Mike Hardon (7.20 GAA; 64.1 sv%) and freshman Charles Pease (10.44 GAA; 48.7 sv%). A former stud goalie during his playing days with the Maroons, Pilat feels comfortable with the situation, for now anyway.

"I know how to handle goalies pretty well and we take a team approach with our goalies anyway," said Pilat, who was named the nation's top goaltender in 1985. "A lot of guys try to individualize it, but I try to make it a team thing. They've definitely bought into that. I'm not sure where it's going to go. Things tend to evolve over the course of the season. I just tell them to work hard and it will take care of itself."

- If you're a fan of lengthy possessions, stall warnings and strong goalie play, the Gettysburg-Cortland contest this weekend in Massapequa, N.Y., might be the game for you. Considering the defense that will be rolled out in this game, goals may be scarce. The Red Dragons bring with them a 2.33 goals against average after three games -- including two contests against NCAA tournament teams from last year. Gettysburg is allowing just 5.80 goals per outing, with the most goals given up this year being eight against No. 3 Salisbury.

- No. 1 C.W. Post travels to Bentley on Saturday for a 1 p.m. start. Keep an eye on that one... I'll keep tabs on the Colorado College-Goucher contest Saturday. Because of their location, the Tigers play scrimmages against MCLA teams, including a win against No. 6 Colorado and a loss to No. 3 Colorado State. Now we'll see how CC fares against a seasoned Gopher squad... Conventional wisdom says No. 2 Stevenson should have no problems dispatching No. 9 Lynchburg, but this is a very important game for the Hornets. They'll show up ready to play... All 10 NESCAC schools open the season with a conference game this weekend. Best of the bunch? Probably Wesleyan at No. 18 Bowdoin.

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