Monthly Archives: January 2005

lacrosse

Sting steal another on road

by Jason Stone

Two close road wins in unfriendly places has eased the pain of the Arizona Sting losing their first game at home.
After dropping a tough 10-9 decision in overtime to Philadelphia Jan. 7, the Sting have rallied to win one-goal games at Colorado and Rochester to bring a 2-1 record into this weekend’s two games.
 The Sting beat Rochester in overtime 9-8 last Saturday as Dan Dawson, the National Lacrosse League’s Player of the Week, scored just 32 seconds into overtime.
Dawson’s goal, his 10th of the season, put him third in the NLL in scoring entering the week.

UP NEXT: San Jose, Calgary games on tap

The Sting have back-to-back games set for this weekend with San Jose coming into Glendale Arena at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The Stealth were idle last week and enter the game with a 1-1 mark.
Gary Rosyski has 12 points (four goals) in the Stealth’s first two games.
Arizona then makes a trip to defending-champion Calgary Saturday night.
The Roughnecks have stumbled out of the gate with two losses in their first three games.
Calgary was idle last week and is not scheduled to play Friday, meaning the Sting will have to fight off fatigue against a well-rested team.

NOTES: Teams make trade before facing off

Prior to this week’s game against San Jose, the Sting acquired defenseman Darryl Gibson and a conditional exchange of draft selections from the Stealth in exchange for Cam Sedgwick.
The 25-year-old Gibson collected an assist and seven penalty minutes in the two games with San Jose.
Considered one of the top defenders in the NLL, Gibson has registered 21 goals, 40 assists and 61 points in 67 games in his NLL career with San Jose, Toronto and Albany.
Sedgwick was originally acquired by the Sting from now-defunct Vancouver Dec. 15 in the NLL Dispersal Draft. He had played the previous three seasons with the Ravens.

Published at glendalestar.com • Jan. 20, 2005

high schools

Glendale makes mark in state with world team

by Jason Stone

If it’s true that soccer is the world’s most popular sport, then Glendale High’s boys soccer coach Brian Fitzgerald should be happy that the world has come to him.
The Cardinals have a roster that would make any competent immigration official take notice, but it hasn’t stopped the team from jelling into a potent team.
Players from Columbia, Mexico, Liberia, Togo and Turkey — and a junior varsity player from Iraq for good measure — dot Glendale’s roster, bringing a challenge Fitzgerald is happy to have.
“Other teams communicate better than us,” Fitzgerald said about his world stew. “But it’s getting a lot better. At first, the kids weren’t really sure about one another.”
With a team of players that speak English, Spanish, French and Turkish — among parts of other languages — it is not hard to see why the Cardinals might have a hard time being on the same page during practices and games.
But if communication is the only thing hurting Glendale, the team is in good shape. The Cardinals entered the week at 11-2-1 and are trying to earn a region championship in the tough 4A Skyline Region.
Togo-born Malik Alokpovi is the big reason Glendale has turned its world mix into one of the best 4A teams in Arizona.
Alokpovi, a junior who speaks French, English and a little Spanish, has scored a state-high 26 goals in 13 games despite being double and triple teamed during most games.
Coming to the U.S. in 2001, Alokpovi taught himself English but brought his world game to Glendale.
Alokpovi racked up 21 goals as a sophomore and outdid himself two weeks ago when he already surpassed that figure.
His worth to the team was felt last Friday night when he was forced to sit out a trip to San Luis because of receiving two yellow cards in the previous game.
Alokpovi’s absence hurt the Cardinals offensively and defensively in a 5-1 loss.
When Alokpovi is in the game, however, he not only gets his own goals, he takes the pressure off other attackers, allowing the offense to open up for players such as Martin Torres, Edgar Renteria and Juan Macias.
“Personally, I enjoy playing with people with a different background,” said Alokpovi, who also goes by the name Jack. “It’s interesting.”
Prior to the season, Fitzgerald figured he’d have a decent team this year with “Jack” back – plus the return of senior goalie Omar Ortega, who missed most of the region season last year with a broken finger.
But a handful of seniors left last year and the Cards opened 2005 with a youthful roster.
“This is a young team,” Ortega said. “We have a lot of first-year varsity players, but they have all stepped up. These guys just surprised us.”
Fitzgerald is losing only three senior starters after the season and has its entire midfield coming back next year.
That makes Glendale a possible threat in 2006 as well — especially with Alokpovi commanding a senior presence.
“Defenders are already scared to face him,” Ortega said. “His speed is what makes him good. He faces up on the goalie instead of cutting in at angles.”
And Renteria, a sophomore center midfielder whom Fitzgerald calls the team’s “X factor,” will be back for his junior year.
“When he’s playing well, we’re playing well,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s as simple as that.”

Published at glendalestar.com • Jan. 20, 2005

lacrosse

Sting open 2005 with split

by Jason Stone

The Arizona Sting felt like they gave one away in their season opener last week.
So, the next night, the team decided to steal one back on the road.
The Sting split their first two games — losing in overtime to Philadelphia at Glendale Arena before traveling to hostile Denver and stealing a one-goal win over Colorado.
Despite not winning both games, the Sting indicated early that they might be one of the National Lacrosse League’s most exciting teams to watch.
A four-goal rally in a span of 84 seconds of the fourth quarter against powerful Colorado, helped the Sting shock a crowd of more than 17,000 in the Pepsi Center.
The Sting pulled out a 16-15 win as Dan Dawson scored five goals and goalie Mike Miron made 44 saves.
That helped erase the bad taste the Sting suffered the night before in front of a raucous crowd at Glendale Arena.
The Sting lost to Philadelphia 10-9 after having a goal disallowed in overtime and Philadelphia scoring a short time later in the extra quarter. Philly’s Marc Morley scored the game-winner 1:50 into overtime, and Wings goalie Dallas Eliuk recorded 55 saves in the victory.
“We just didn’t finish in this game,” Sting coach and general manager Bob Hamley said. “We had our chances.”
The Wings led 9-8, but Pat Maddalena scored with 54 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime. The Glendale Arena crowd of just under 6,000 stood the entire overtime, wildly waving their “Bam Bam” sticks the team handed out before the game.
It appeared the Sting had won it when Maddalena fired in a shot a minute into overtime. But officials ruled the 30-second shot clock had already expired.
Dawson, who ended the week second in the NLL in scoring, knocked in three goals against Philadelphia to give him eight for the weekend.
“Eliuk had a good game,” Dawson said. “But we were making him look good. We were shooting it right at him.”
The Sting’s next home game is Jan. 21 against San Jose. First drop is 7:30 p.m.

Published at glendalestar.com • Jan. 13, 2005

high schools

Ironwood has sights set on state tourney

by Jason Stone

The Ironwood High School boys basketball team is an attraction wherever they go, but it is not because of their basketball talent — although that is a worthy enough reason to take notice of the Eagles.
Each night on the road, Ironwood’s starting center Austen Powers is announced over the public address system and the team hears laughs from the crowd and random screams of “Yeah, baby!”
“A lot of people focus on him because of his name,” said senior Robert Cuthbert. “They should focus on him because he’s good.”
The 6-foot-7 Powers has become a power this year, shrugging off any comparisons to his famous movie character namesake with one glance at his big body.
And all it takes is a few minutes to realize that Ironwood as a whole is not the same team that faded down the stretch of seasons past.
With eight seniors on the team — including a pack of solid shooters and what senior David Beale calls “a good mix” of players — Ironwood has raised a few eyebrows in the early season.
The Eagles have started the season 11-3 with their only losses coming in tournaments. Ironwood is 8-0 in regular season games as the Desert West Region season begins this week.
“I think we’re seeing their experience,” coach Rick Dunn said about his team’s fast start. “Plus, they all know each other. They’ve been playing together four years.”
Ironwood’s experience is one factor in its resurgence. But the team changed its philosophy a bit in the offseason.
Like the Phoenix Suns in the NBA, the Eagles are moving the ball up the court faster than they have in recent years.
With Powers and 6-foot-8 Tyler Montgomery last year, the Eagles played more of a slowed-down, half-court game.
The results weren’t always pretty, though, as the Eagles went 12-15 and suffered through of tough season of finger-pointing.
“We played a lot of ‘me’ ball last year,” Dunn said. “Consequently, we lost games.”
Cuthbert said stronger friendships this year have led to better team chemistry.
“We didn’t get along too well last year,” Cuthbert said. “We had too many individuals. This year we have a good mix. We have star players, but we’re also a good team.”
Montgomery’s graduation left the Eagles a bit shorter this year, so with a roster full of athletic players, Dunn has had the team running more on offense and playing pressure defense.
The Eagles have also developed an inside-out game. When Powers draws double teams near the basket, it has been freeing up shots for the outside shooters.
The results are now showing in the team’s win-loss record.
“We’ve got some good shooters, so if they’re making the shots, sometimes that leaves Austen open 1-on-1.”
It is a formula that has been working all season. Yeah, baby.

Published at glendalestar.com • Jan. 13, 2005

lacrosse

Pro lacrosse comes back for 2nd year

by Jason Stone

It did not take long for the Arizona Sting to draw a local fan base.
Maybe it’s the NHL lockout that’s making fans desperate for sports, or perhaps the game of lacrosse simply caught on quickly in the Valley.
Whatever it is, the Sting enter their second season in Glendale with more fans, higher expectations and the job of appeasing more fans with hockey on indefinite hiatus.
“We went from 60 season-tickets to something like 3,000,” said Rich Nairn, the Sting and Coyotes media relations director. “That’s huge.”
More than 10,000 fans packed Glendale Arena for the second of two free preseason games in mid-December. Sting officials are hoping those who got the taste of the game will want to pay to see more in one of the eight regular season games at the arena.
The season’s first drop comes at 7:30 p.m. Saturday when the Philadelphia Wings of the Eastern Conference pays a visit to the new Glendale venue.
Arizona went 7-9 in its first season after moving from Columbus and stayed in the playoff race until the next-to-last weekend.
But the Sting were considered a young team a year ago, and with a little added maturity and experience, expectations have been raised.
“We are very excited about the roster that we have going into the season,” said coach and general manager Bob Hamley. “Not only are we one of the best young teams in the NLL, but we feel that our team is ready to take the next step and be very competitive this year.”
The NLL has a bit of a different look this year. Gone are the Vancouver Ravens, which folded last month. But the league added the Minnesota Swarm and placed them in the Eastern Conference, giving both con-ferences five teams. Last year, the West featured six of the league’s 10 teams.
The league also changed some rules to add more physical play to the game — perhaps to capitalize on the loss of hockey.
Fouls for contact on loose balls has been eased and players are allowed to use added stick moves on faceoffs.
Sudden death overtime has been increased to 15 minutes from five, and players are no longer allowed to pass to a goalie in the crease in order to spark more transition play.
The Sting should have no problem running whenever they can. The team had one of the most exciting offenses in the league last year and most of the stars are back.
Forward Pat Maddalena led the team with 42 goals and 83 points and was one of two players named to the Western Conference All-Star team last year.
Dan Dawson and Gewas Schindler were streaky scorers who lit up the scoreboard in bunches when hot. Dawson (74 points) and Schindler (32 goals) are joined by dangerous offensive players Cory Bomberry and Kasey Beirnes to give the Sting a headache of an offense for opponents.
Goaltender Mike Miron, the Sting’s other All-Star rep a year ago, also returns. Miron had a goals against average of 12.46 last year and a saver percentage of .753.
The Sting also plays at Colorado this weekend.

Published at glendalestar.com • Jan. 6, 2005