The Vancouver Warriors are not happy with how their season has started, and that’s an understatement.
Having played their last two games on the road, the Warriors are happy to return to Rogers Arena for their first lacrosse game inside Rogers Arena of the new decade. However, I’m sure the 3-1 Colorado Mammoth are not their desired opponent.
Head Coach Chris Gill and his coaching staff are working on fixing critical self-inflicted issues that have caused problems for their team this past weekend versus the Wings, but at other points during the year as well.
“Once you watch the film – not taking anything away from [the Wings] – of their 18 goals, 16 of them we felt were in our hands,” Gill said. “We either made a mistake, didn’t do what we were supposed to do off face-offs, which caused a couple of goals. We made mistakes on the [defensive] end and allowed some goals that our goalies wanted back. Whatever the case may be, 16 of those 18 goals, we think we could’ve prevented.”
“It was the first game this year that we were absolutely dominated.”
Mitch Jones has been the shining star of Warriors offense this season. We saw last weekend that teams are now adjusting their defensive schemes because of his hot start; they are starting to give Jones more attention on the floor – he leads the league in assists (20) and points (32) and is tied for the NLL lead in goals with 12.
As defenses start to double- or even triple-team Jones, his teammates will need to make sure that they’re in a position to receive a pass from him so they can create something on offense. Gill mentioned to Jones that the team needs to capitalize on those defensive changes.
“If teams are going to be doubling you or tripling you, good. Then let’s get the ball to the open players,” Gill said to Jones. “If that happens, we’ve got to move the ball. If my player leaves to go double Mitch, I’ve got to find an opening. [The offense] is not just on Jones. We’re going to have to figure it out as a team. We’re confident in our offensive group. If one of our guys is down, we’ve got guys like [Jordan McBride] or [Keegan Bal] – I can go down the list – who can fill their space.”
Coach Gill has a point. The Warriors are averaging more goals per game than eight teams in the league.
Joel McCready is another one of those forwards who can step up for the Warriors if Jones is getting hounded. Always looking on the bright side, McCready said his team is far from reaching their potential.
“I think there’s a strong belief in each other in the [locker] room,” McCready said. “I don’t think we’ve played to our potential as of yet; we’ve seen flashes of it. When we put together a full 60 minutes of all three facets of our game, we’re going to reach our potential, and the sky’s the limit from there.”
Particularly against the Wings, the Warriors allowed too many scoring opportunities and goals to the transition teams or defensemen. If there’s one aspect of their game they want to clean up before their match against the Colorado Mammoth, it’s that.
“You’re not going to win any games in this league if you’re giving up five goals to defensemen,” Gill said. “Our focus, transitionally, is not letting that happen. Of the 18 goals against [the Wings], there weren’t any on the breakaway.”
Coach Gill stopped short of calling this match on Friday night against the Mammoth a must-win but stressed that his team would be nearing an extremely difficult battle after another loss, especially a loss to a divisional opponent.
“This is a massive game,” Gill said. “We do not want to lose the season-series to Colorado.”
It only takes one win, one game of positive play at every position to begin stringing together victories, and inject them into the playoff discussion. They don’t need it to come this weekend, but it would make their chances of making the postseason a little bit easier if they win this home game.