It doesn't matter how far Kyle Dixon is from the goal — if you leave him open, he's going to shoot.
The Chesapeake Bayhawks midfielder showed it this past week in St. Petersburg, Fla. Dixon netted three two-point goals in the Bayhawks' season-opening 17-14 victory over the Rochester Rattlers, tying the single-game league record he set in May 2012.
Tonight, Dixon will look to continue his prolific shooting from beyond the two-point arc when the Bayhawks host the New York Lizards in their home opener at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
"Coach [Dave] Cottle really preaches it all along; we want to take the most two-pointers and make the most two-pointers," Dixon said. "He gives us the green light, and Rochester wasn't really stepping up to the two-point arc to play defense. And you can see our team has the shooters to hit those shots."
Any goal scored from beyond the 16-yard arc counts for two points, and nobody in MLL history has done it more than Dixon. The eight-year pro has hit 50 two-point goals in his career, which puts him 17 goals ahead of former Philadelphia Barrage midfielder Roy Closely, who is second all-time with 33.
"It's something I've really started to implement in my game over the past three or four years," Dixon said. "It's a 16-yard shot, so it's not an easy shot to hit, but if you have the right velocity on the shot and you have the right location … it can definitely be a huge part of the game."
Those shots are part of what makes Cottle's offense so lethal. The Bayhawks found the back of the net 12 times against the Rattlers, but their five two-pointers — three from Dixon and two from midfielder Ben Hunt — brought their goal total to 17.
"In college, you could be down two or four goals and think you're kind of out of the game with little time left," Dixon said. "In our game, if you hit two shots you could make up four goals pretty quickly. It's a huge momentum shift, and it's definitely something we focus on."
The Bayhawks rank second in the league in goals scored through one game this season, and their attack should be even stronger tonight. Starting attackmen Drew Westervelt and John Grant Jr.—who ranked second and third on the team in scoring last year, respectively — will rejoin the team after missing the team's first game due to their National Lacrosse League commitments.
Midfielder Jeff Reynolds will also return from the NLL , and starting goalkeeper Kip Turner — an assistant coach at Brown — will rejoin the team now that the Bears' season is over.
The returnees' on-field impact won't be automatic, though. The rebuilt Lizards should provide a tough test for the defending national champions, and Cottle said the game is all about who you have on the field, not who you're missing.
"They play typical Long Island, sandpaper defense," Cottle said. "They get underneath your skin, they go after you; you better buckle your chin strap when you're playing the New York Lizards."
But no matter how tough the opposing defense is, Cottle is going to keep giving his team the green light, and Dixon is going to keep firing. The only question is how many two-point goals he'll score this week.
"Depends on how many times they leave me open," Dixon said with a chuckle. "I'm definitely going to take a few if I get my hands free. We'll see if my shots on like it was last week."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun