NATS LEARNING, IMPROVING AS SEASON PROGRESSES
7/22/11 12:00 AM
(Hamilton, July 22)… Regy Thorpe was a hard-nosed, no nonsense defenseman in his days in Major League Lacrosse. His fiery personality still comes out on the sidelines as he shouts out plays to the field. Yet, like great coaches before him, Thorpe knows when to push and when to pull back.
After an overtime loss to the Chesapeake Bayhawks last Saturday, it could have been easy to focus on the miscues and missed opportunities. But Thorpe, ever the motivator, addressed his group and used the time to reflect on all the aspects of the game and to teach his young players about the keys to winning in the MLL.
“We showed good poise and had a couple of looks at the cage. We put ourselves in a position to win, but we made a couple of mistakes. I am proud of the guys and the way they battled to the end,” said Thorpe.
“Any time you can get better it’s a good thing,” he added. “Boston is a really good team, but our guys are up for the challenge. They are excited about it and seeing what they can do.”
The Nationals (4-4) travel to play the Boston Cannons (6-2) on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at Harvard Stadium. A Boston win clinches a playoff spot for the MLL’s top team. Hamilton needs to keep winning to move closer to the MLL Championship Weekend. The Nats hold a slim one-game lead over the Long Island Lizards for the fourth and final playoff spot.
Hamilton has won three of its last four games, and according to Thorpe, some of the credit goes to goalie Scott Rodgers.
“Scotty has been playing well the last three games. He is certainly seeing the ball well and is giving us a chance to win,” said Thorpe. “He has played better after a slow start and is returning to his All-American form.”
The second-year pro made 19 saves last game and allowed 12 goals to move into third in the league with a 12.63 goals-against average. Rodgers was the Nationals’ second-round pick in the 2010 Collegiate Draft out of Notre Dame. Rodgers was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2010 NCAA Championship as he helped Notre Dame reach the title game of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
Offensively, Hamilton made two moves this week, trading for attackman Casey Powell and adding defensive midfielder Tim Harder. Powell is a three-time MLL Champion, four-time All-Star and is seventh all-time in goals with 197. The former Syracuse University star entered the 2011 season as Major League Lacrosse’s all-time leader in points (388). While Powell’s future remains uncertain, Harder was put on the Nats’ active roster after Dan Burns was placed on the two-game injured reserve list.
Harder played 53 games in four seasons at Syracuse University (2008-11) and won back-to-back national championships (2008-09). In 2011, he played in all 17 games as a defensive midfielder. The Garden City, NY, native was part of a Syracuse unit that ranked third nationally in scoring defense (6.90 goals per game) and set a school record for man-down defense efficiency, leading the nation at 81.7 percent.
Hamilton added depth with the two moves, which could be vital with just four games to play in the 2011 season.
“We are not just looking at the fourth spot,” said Thorpe. “We want to get better every week.”