Photo by Jeff Bell –

After last week’s first win against the Portland Stags in their home town, the Vancouver Nighthawks are eagerly awaiting the rematch this Saturday night at Thunderbird Stadium at UBC in Vancouver.

Coach and GM Andrew Lugsdin put the team’s sentiments succinctly.

“We’re really looking forward to getting a win in front of our home town fans. “

I asked Lugsdin what the Nighthawks need to do to achieve this goal.

“I think the big thing for us is we need to continue improving our offensive play. We haven’t done a great job of running plays off of the pulls and we haven’t done a great job of using the whole field. Because of this, the guys have had to really grind the disc up the field.”

“I think they’re working hard at it, but we’re making things a little too tough on ourselves, which starts to really affect your scoring efficiency. We’re working to improve in this area and that will be one of our big focuses this weekend. We’re heading in the right direction here but we need to keep improving.”

Veteran O line handler Kirk Savage expands on how they will try to achieve this improvement.

“On offence, we need to keep the disc moving quickly between our handlers, and to attack the lanes with aggressive cutting from our lane cutters. If we can do that, combined with support from our home crowd, we should find ourselves on the winning side. “

But it’s not just up to the Nighthawks offence. Says Savage, “Strategically, on defence we need to keep up the defensive pressure, creating sideline pressure on their handlers and using double teaming strategies where appropriate. “

Scoring machine Mark Leduc brings the offensive and defensive prescriptions together.

“If we want to secure our first victory at home this week in front of our fans and get back to .500, it will be key for our offense to run like a finely tuned machine, taking what is given to us and not forcing the issue, and for our defence to clamp down even more on their handlers, making their dump throws that much harder to complete.”

One factor the Nighthawks will have to overcome is that five players and a coach will be missing this weekend to attend the final training camp for the team that represent Canada at the Ultimate competition in this summer’s World Games in Cali Colombia. (See a story about the tryouts here.)

Here’s how Lugsdin is approaching this issue.

“We’re definitely going to be down a few of our key guys who play some important roles. That being said, there’s lots of talent on the team and this gives an opportunity for some other guys to step up. These players need to make the most of their opportunity by playing aggressively and with confidence. “

“We may have to shift some of our starters around and move them to some different spots, and we may need to double guys up more than we normally would. We do have a couple of players, Charles ‘Bobo” Eyrich and Jordan Tessarolo, who are getting healthier, and Kevin Underhill and Keane Knapp will be back from college, so that should help.”

Savage is also taking the positive view.

“Being without a number of our starters could be challenging, but I believe that we have some talented guys on our team who will step up and fill the void. Sometimes situations like this have to happen to create opportunities for players to have breakthrough games. This could be one of those golden opportunities. “

Even without some of their top players, the Nighthawks are certain they will be able to pull off their first home win on Saturday night. Add in the loud fans, who will be enjoying what are forecast to be record-setting temperatures, and it should be one heck of an evening in the lovely setting of Thunderbird Stadium. Get your tickets here.

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