By Sean Heenehan | 9/29/11 2:55 PM
The Chesapeake Bayhawks were the reigning MLL Champions entering the 2011 season and looked to defend the Steinfeld Trophy and coveted title for a second straight year. From May to August their performances peaked and dipped, but a victory over the Rochester Rattlers on August 6th awarded them the fourth seed. It painted a similar picture to the year prior when the Bayhawks clinched the fourth seed in the regular season and went on to win it all.
The confident Bayhawks fell short to the Boston Cannons at their home field in Annapolis, Md. during the first semifinal game and now look to add depth to their 2012 roster. The 23-Man Protected List was released last week and MLL Analyst Quint Kessenich sheds light on how he expects the Bayhawks to shape their new roster.
“I don’t believe the Bayhawks will protect goalies Chris Garrity or Brian Phipps, but will instead protect a dozen field players. I also expect the Bayhawks to be aggressive before the expansion draft, trading with the new franchises.”
Kyle Dixon- M (Virginia)
If you simply look at his stats, you might think Kyle Dixon had a difficult season compared to years past. But his contributions and leadership helped the Bayhawks to the playoffs once again. Finishing with twenty points, Dixon was the fourth leading scorer for Chesapeake despite hurdles at the start of the season.
“Kyle battled an injury throughout most of the 2011 season and played his best ball in August,” said Kessenich, adding that he would protect Dixon on the 10 or 12 Man Rosters.
The second overall pick in the 2006 MLL Collegiate Draft, Dixon is no stranger to championships, which is valued experience for any team. Dixon helped the Bayhawks to the 2010 MLL Championship as well playing a major role in two NCAA titles with the Virginia Cavaliers (2003 & 2006).
Michael Evans- D (Johns Hopkins)
Chesapeake’s shut down defender had the task of covering MLL’s top talents week in and week out. Evans’ stats do not show the quality of play he brought to the Bayhawks, especially on a team that is dominated by outstanding midfield play. According to Kessenich, Evans is a “cornerstone defender who can lock down on the game’s top attackmen.”
Evans was an outstanding player for Johns Hopkins, starting 49 straight games while winning the 2007 NCAA tournament. He was the 18th overall pick in the 2009 MLL Collegiate Draft and has been a fixture on the Bayhawk’s defense ever since.
Danny Glading- A (Virginia)
After leading the Bayhawks in points for the 2011 season, Danny Glading’s entry to the 23-Man Protected List comes as no surprise. Glading scored 23 goals and had 15 assists during the year while leading Chesapeake to another late regular season run into the playoffs. Kessenich says “Glading was the Team MVP and he shot the lights out in 2011. I would protect him if I were GM of the Bayhawks.”
Glading had his most efficient year since he came into the league three years ago from Virginia. He improved on his scoring adding 12 more points than last year while also tripling his ground ball pick-ups. He was named the MLL Offensive Player of the Week in Week 8 after his two goal, two assists effort in a come-from-behind win against the Hamilton Nationals. Glading was also named to the 2011 Sports Authority MLL All-Star Game.
Kyle Hartzell- D (Salisbury)
A lock down defender with sneaky athleticism, Hartzell’s addition to the protected list is a testament to Coach Kelly’s persistent attitude to have a solid foundation in front of his goalies. Kyle finished the 2011 season with 5 points and picked up 27 ground balls. He was selected to the 2011 Sports Authority MLL All-Star Game. Kessenich notes that Hartzell is one of Chesapeake’s most versatile players, noting that “he can play close or pole in a pinch.”
After being drafted by San Francisco, Hartzell was picked up off of waivers before the 2009 season and he’s played for the Bayhawks ever since. Kyle was a standout at Salisbury University, where he won two NCAA Division III National Championships.
Ben Hunt - M (UNC)
Midfielder Ben Hunt was third in scoring for Chesapeake, netting 18 goals, 2 two-pointers and 5 assists while scooping up 12 ground balls. A fixture in Coach Kelly’s deep midfield lines, Hunt is a great offensive complement to the driving and slashing styles of Glading and Rubeor. Hunt’s aim from the outside was always a concern for defenses, especially when other Bayhawks drove and kicked it back out for one of Hunt’s many shots this season (he led the Bayhawks in shots on goal with 38).
Ben was a member of the Tar Heels Lacrosse team where he was named team MVP after his senior season. He totaled 65 goals and 31 assists totaling 96 points while also logging 92 ground balls. He was drafted 28th overall in the 2009 MLL Collegiate Draft by the Chesapeake Bayhawks
Ben Rubeor- A (Virginia)
Ben Rubeor joins the 23-Man Protected List after coming off a career best year. Rubeor finished with 17 goals and 10 assists along with 28 ground balls, all of which top his past year’s production. Teaming up with Danny Glading on attack, they accounted for 65 points, just over 30% of the Bayhawks offensive production this season.
“He’s a leftly and always gives 100% effort,” notes Kessenich. Rubeor knows how to find the net, whether by scoring or assisting.
Rubeor is another Bayhawk that graduated from Virginia who helped the Cavaliers win a National Championship in 2006. He started four years straight and earned many accolades, including being named team captain during his Junior and Senior years.
Alex Smith- FO (Delaware)
Smith has the stats and experience to keep him on the protected list. He was named 2007 Cascade Rookie of the Year, MLL Defensive Player of the week and a selection to the 2007 MLL All-Star Team.
“He’s a face-off ace and had Tommy John elbow surgery in September after playing injured the entire season,” said Quint of Smith’s perseverance and edge.
Smith is a 2007 graduate of the University of Delaware. Smith had a remarkable career at Delaware holding an overall face-off percentage of .811 winning 1027 of 1487 attempts. He was named 2007 CAA Player of the Year.
Under Quint's model, other protected candidates would include Matt Abbott who is a “tireless transitional midfielder and does it all,” Stephen Brooks, Michael Kimmel who struggled after being named the MVP of the All-Star Game and Jeff Reynolds, one of the best transitional midfielders in the league.
Barney Ehrmann - D (Georgetown)
Standing at 6'6", Ehrmann finished his debut season with 25 ground balls after playing in nine regular season games. He also gained championship experience in the first semifinal game, scooping four ground balls. Quint noted that Ehrmann improved game by game. "He's a freak athlete who still has room to improve."
Barney played in 49 games at Georgetown University where he tallied 176 ground balls, and 58 caused turnovers. He was named 1stand 2ndTeam All ECAC.
Quint’s model would leave several players on Chesapeake’s unprotected list: Goalies Chris Garrity and Brian Phipps, who are “capable in the eight team league," Brian Carroll who "never found his shooting stroke in 2011,” midfielder Justin Smith who is a “veteran with a few more good years left," Steven Dinapoli who is still “a very attractive candidate," Joe Cinosky, a former Team USA defender who was a healthy scratch late in the 2011 campaign.
Quint Kessenich covers MLL for the ESPN networks and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.