Saints down Seahorses but face task ahead

Published 11:06 pm Thursday, April 16, 2009

After the offensive hiccups his team experienced in a pair of games this week, Nansemond-Suffolk Academy boys lacrosse coach Ian Patrick is pretty sure he knows what the Saints will face when the playoffs roll around in three weeks.

“If anyone out there saw these games or sees video of them, they’re going to run a zone defense against us,” Patrick said. “Coaches talk amongst themselves and that’s exactly what I would do.”

That’s because the Saints, despite downing the Williamsburg club team Tuesday and Christchurch School on Thursday, struggled with the patience and execution needed to crack such a zone set up. Thursday’s 12-6 victory over visiting Christchurch was pretty much a rout, but the Seahorses (2-8) aren’t the caliber of teams NSA will have to beat in its bid for a Division II state title.

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“We’re a good transition team and we like to move the ball,” Patrick said. “But when a team doesn’t pressure us, we tend to stop moving our feet and we try to force the ball with passes and shots at the wrong time or in the wrong place.”

The task Patrick faces will be somewhat similar to readying an option attack in football. Repetition and more repetition until the crucial moments of recognition and their accompanying actions become second nature. Currently, the Saints are thinking too much and reacting too little against physical teams that avoid man-to-man defense against their mobile attack.

With a 4-0 lead after eight minutes Thursday, it appeared NSA was going to slice and dice the Christchurch defense at will. But the Seahorses stiffened and pulled within 4-3 midway through the second quarter. If not for some Christchurch goaltending struggles, the Saints might have had to pay more dearly for their mental and physical mistakes.

“We hit (the posts and crossbar) something like 11 times today,” Patrick pointed out. “If we get a few of those, we could have put the game away earlier. We’ll figure out how to break down the zone. It’s just a matter of getting it done in practice.”

Attackmen Will Crenshaw and Carter Pearson and midfielder Tucker Hotte each had three goals for NSA (8-2), which also got tallies from Curtis Hanson, Reid Mizelle and Sam Rapaport. The latter, however, left the game in the second half with what Patrick described as a concussion and didn’t return.

The Saints are next in action Tuesday when they travel to Richmond to face Benedictine High in a nonconference game.