Titans pose challenge for Rock

RYAN WOLSTAT, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:18 PM ET

It is never a good time to meet your nemesis, but coming off of consecutive losses makes Saturday’s matchup with the Orlando Titans especially challenging for the Rock.

The Orlando Titans, one of the most unique teams in the National Lacrosse League because of its athletic roster peppered with American field lacrosse superstars, certainly had the Rock’s number in its previous incarnation as the New York Titans.

The Rock is just 2-3 all-time against the Titans, with one of the wins coming by a single goal. Back in 2007, the expansion Titans went 2-0 against the Rock, costing the team a home playoff date. The Rock prevailed 15-14 to open the 2009 season, but the Titans went on to finish 10-6 and made it all the way to the Champion’s Cup final, before losing to Rock head coach Troy Cordingley’s Calgary Roughnecks.

Orlando, 3-2, is well-rested having played the fewest games of any in the East Division. That could spell trouble for the Rock, considering the team plays at a track meet pace, constantly causing pressure with an explosive attack led by Casey Powell, Ryan Boyle and Canadian Jordan Hall.

The Rock also plays a pressure style, though Cordingley and assistant coach/general manager Terry Sanderson prefer their defence to put the heat on opposing offences.

In order to win, the Rock will have to play harder than it did in the 14-13 loss in Edmonton last week. Super-rookies Garrett Billings and Stephan Leblanc continued their strong play, along with league points leader Colin Doyle — but the rest of the team was sluggish.

“(Billings) was probably one of the few guys that showed up to play against Edmonton,” Sanderson said.

The Rock was cruising along at 6-1, before going 0-for-Alberta the past two weeks.

The Rock has played more games than anybody in the NLL so far and that might have been a reason for the letdown in Edmonton. However, Sanderson refuses to allow the team to use the busy schedule as a crutch.

“We have to improve and get a better work ethic,” he said. “Edmonton outworked us.”

Doyle leads the loop in points with 56 and Billings is next at 54. Blaine Manning and Leblanc are also in the top five but Orlando is right up there in terms of explosiveness.

“I think it’s going to be our toughest challenge to date,” Sanderson said. “I like the way the Titans play and the speed they bring to the game.”

The Titans are coming off the first double overtime game in league history — a 12-11 loss to Boston

Despite the potential for offensive fireworks, the score might just stay low thanks to the goalies slated to start.

Orlando’s Matt Vinc made 46 saves in the loss to Boston and leads all NLL starters in save percentage, just ahead of Bob Watson who edges Vinc for the lead in goals-against-average.

ryan.wolstat@sunmedia.ca


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