Editor’s Note: A month ago we brought you Part One and Part Two of Chasing The Dream, by Malcolm Chase. Last week saw him drop Part Three, and today we bring you Part Four of Malcolm’s epic journey, as he strives to make a game roster for the Boston Cannons of Major League Lacrosse as a 35 year old MLL rookie
Last Saturday, during our road game against the Hamilton Nationals, I was on a flight from Boston to Seattle, to direct my last Xcelerate Lacrosse camp of the Summer. Being a current practice player, I don’t take road trips with the Cannons. As the pilot informed us we would be cruising over the beautiful province of Ontario, I was wondering how my teammates were doing on the ground beneath us.
We landed in Seattle, and I immediately turned my phone on in order to check the score. We lost 17-12, and while it is not always that simple, this game does need to be put behind us… at least for the time being, so that our focus can shift to an entirely different Ohio Machine squad that would love to upset us this in Boston. I still made sure to study the game closely on Wednesday when I watched it on DVR, so that I could see what went down, and know how to best contribute in practice this week, and maybe even the next game, on Saturday.
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(The walk from the field to the locker room in the legendary Harvard Stadium. One that I am proud to make. Guys in uniform enter the other way for pregame intros.)
My first reaction to watching the game is to congratulate my boy, Marty Bowes, on his first career MLL goal! He’s been on the sideline for most of the year, alongside me, and we’ve had a number of conversations about what we would do if and when we got the opportunity to play. I thought he played some pretty solid individual defense and seized his opportunity to make some noise on the other end too.
Congratulations are also due to Matt Poskay who passed Ryan Curtis for most games played in a Cannons uniform. We truly have some legends on our team!
Our team defense however, was not in legendary form early on, and our offense got a late start. Spotting a team like Hamilton a 6-1 first quarter will not typically produce a successful outcome for any team in the league. Simply put, there is no other opponent in the MLL like the Nationals – a predominantly Canadian, physically tough team, with exceptional stick work, and a goalie who can spark transition with his outlets and his feet. We played them dead even the rest of the game, closing within 3 or four a few times, but never exerted dominance long enough to make up the difference.
Garrett Thul is a beast, and was literally driving through us, and Roy Lang was dancing in front of our goal untouched. The Hamilton defense was very physical on the other end of the field as well, knocking a number of our guys down, and finishing body and stick checks alike, with force. I wanted to jump through my computer screen and smash those guys. Like I’ve said before, I’m a bit of a meat head, and I like to answer with physicality.
Sure, the game was over, and had been for days once I got to really watch it (just to remind you), but I felt like it was live, and I got a fresh taste of that same desire I had earlier in the season when our team was flailing, and not performing to our full potential. Sometimes a little physical play can spark a team and send a clear message to your opponent that nothing is going to come easy tonight. I really wanted to deliver that message.
(Here you see my practice squad compatriots Kit Smith, Marty Bowes(now playing), Craig Bunker and Ricky Pages when he was still on IR. Bunker and I are superstitious about standing next to each other. We stay close enough to Eck so he can give him notes, much like an NFL back up quarterback. And we’ve never lost a game at home since Bunk and I started standing there. That gap is my spot during games. How cool would it be if I that gap widened in the next couple of weeks?!!!)
As much as my stick skills can not touch the likes of Kyle Sweeney, Scott Ratliff or Brian Farrell, there has never been any doubt as to the intensity, and the physicality, that I bring to the field. Many offensive players over the years have voiced how much they do not enjoy going against me. Beyond that, I’ve battled hard with half of the Nationals roster while playing for Wimmer Solutions and winning over Dirty Lax in Hawaii over the past two years. Granted, Mike Evans, Eric Martin and Kyle Hartzell are by my side for Wimmer, but I always hold my own out there, just as I know I would alongside the All-Star defensemen on the Cannons.
I’m ready to bring something new, something fresh to a very technical, very precise unit – a 6’3” 210 pound tornado of hurt causing chaos all over the midfield. I train for this style of play constantly! Footwork, power, strength – everything I need to be an animal on GBs, on slides, and on ball.
We’ve been hitting the gym hard here at Pacific Lutheran every day during camp. I grabbed a nice run around campus last night and did some footwork on the hill. We had a coaches basketball game that lasted way longer than it should have, mostly due to the fact that none of us played basketball growing up. This provided exceptional conditioning and a lot of defense. A little ugly, but perfect for my personal needs.
This week? Put me in, Coach! I’m not actually advocating for myself here, as all personnel decisions are in the Coach’s hands fully, but that is my attitude. I want to tear it up, and I want to contribute. I’ve never been more ready to play. Rest assured, it’s gonna be ON when Friday night practice hits. I know how much better my teammates could have performed last weekend, and I am going to help them get back to the level we need to be at.
It’s must win time for the Cannons. The playoff mentality must already be there when we walk into the locker room Friday. Otherwise, we will not see a true playoff game this year.
I’ve had the stick in my hands every day and I’m going out to hit the wall and the gym early before our last session here at PLU. If I’m not going to be on the field, you can bet I’m gonna help make them better for game time.
Obviously I want to play. I can be honest with you about that. But ABOVE ALL, I believe in this team, and in this organization. I said it in the beginning of the series and I’ll say it again: We have all the tools we need to win an MLL Championship. It all starts with putting the hammer down on Ohio this weekend and carrying an attitude of confidence and tenacity in everything we do from here on out.
I’m going to keep doing my part, so will my team, and we will all keep Chasing the Dream.