Ryan Wade knew the game of lacrosse was played differently indoors.
Discovering how different, though, has been a sometimes painful experience for Wade and the rest of the members of the Charlotte Cobras in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League.
Wade, who starred at midfield for Severn School and the University of North Carolina, suffered a concussion in the Cobras' second game and was forced to sit out their past two games. He is expected back in Charlotte's lineup tonight when the MILL's newest expansion team takes on the Thunder at Baltimore Arena.
"The game is completely different from outdoors," said Wade, a two-time, first-team All-American with the Tar Heels. "The structure of the game, the way you cut, and the way you play is completely different. Hopefully, as the season goes on, we'll start to come along."
Wade, one of 21 rookies on Charlotte's 23-man roster, wasn't in uniform when Baltimore and the Cobras met for the first time on Jan. 27 at Charlotte's Independence Arena. Whether Wade would have made a difference that night is doubtful, considering Baltimore won, 16-6.
L Just don't try telling that to his former high school coach.
"If ever there was a team that rode one person's efforts, it was Severn during Ryan's senior year," said former Severn coach Rob White, now an assistant at St. Mary's in Annapolis. "Ryan dominated the faceoffs, which is crucial for possession time, and he led our league in scoring. When you look back at it, he really kind of set a standard."
During his senior year at Severn in 1990, Wade led the Maryland Scholastic Association in scoring with 50 goals and 38 assists. His efforts helped the Admirals to a berth in the MSA championship game -- which they lost to Loyola, 11-4 -- and earned him The Sun's Metro Player of the Year honors.
Before graduating from North Carolina last spring, Wade, a 5-foot-9, 165-pound native of Davidsonville in southern Anne Arundel County, became North Carolina's career ground balls leader with 323.
As a junior, he won the McLaughlin Award as the nation's top midfielder, and he capped his senior year by helping the Tar Heels win their seventh straight Atlantic Coast Conference title.
"Ryan is a winner and he will find a way to get better and become an impact player in this league," said Charlotte coach Joe Seivold. "Not having him the last two games hurt us tremendously because he's a great overhand shooter, which is a benefit in the indoor game."
Opponent: Charlotte Cobras
Radio: WJFK (1300 AM)
Outlook: The expansion Cobras (0-4) come to Baltimore looking for revenge and their first Major Indoor Lacrosse League victory. The Thunder (2-2) defeated Charlotte, 16-6, on Jan. 27 in Charlotte. Paul Cantabene (five goals, six assists) and Brian Kroneberger (seven, four) lead Baltimore with 11 points apiece and Bob Martino (five, five) and Mark Millon (seven, three) are tied for second with 10 points each. Millon had four goals and one assist when the teams met last month. Tim Hormes is Baltimore's leading goal scorer with eight. Chris Bates, who spent the past four seasons with the two-time defending league champion Philadelphia Wings, leads the Cobras with six goals.