6/24/11 6:00 PM
CHESAPEAKE RETURNS TO ANNAPOLIS FOR SHOWDOWN WITH LEAGUE-LEADING BOSTON
ANNAPOLIS, MD – Head coach Brendan Kelly feels good about where the Chesapeake Bayhawks stand at almost the midway mark of the season considering what the team has gone through during the first month. Chesapeake opened the season with an impressive 14-10 victory over the Rochester Rattlers on May 14th in Annapolis. The Bayhawks have not been back home since then.
Chesapeake went 2-2 during the month-long odyssey, traveling to Canada and beating Hamilton, then winning in Denver for the first time in franchise history.
“Under the circumstances, I’m pleased that we’re 3-2 with a chance to move into a tie for first place with a win over Boston,” Kelly said. “What’s most encouraging is that we’re right in the thick of things and we still have not played our best lacrosse.”
Chesapeake will return home on Saturday night for a showdown with Boston, which is tied with Denver first place in Major League Lacrosse (MLL) with a 4-1 record. The Bayhawks are hoping to get similar support as they did in the season opener when a raucous crowd of 7,916 filled up Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
“We are excited to get back home after being away for so long and we are counting on a big crowd to give us a lift,” Chesapeake president and offensive coordinator Dave Cottle said.
By far the high point of the season came June 11th in the Mile High City when Chesapeake outscored Denver 6-2 in the fourth quarter and tied the game with just four seconds left in regulation. Midfielder Ben Hunt then scored his fifth goal of the game with 1:07 elapsed in overtime to give the Bayhawks a thrilling 16-15 victory.
On the down side, Chesapeake gave up an early 5-1 lead and wound up losing 14-11 to Long Island in a rematch of last year’s MLL Championship, just five days after beating Denver to grab a share of first place in the standings.
“We have yet to play a 60-minute game. We have been inconsistent, and that’s due largely to the fact we’ve had to shuffle the lineup a lot,” Kelly said. “I’ve been impressed that this team stays together no matter the situation. We have held together through thick-and-thin. I like the way we go to battle week-in and week-out.”
Chesapeake has been led offensively by attackman Danny Glading, who is shooting 54 percent and ranks third in the league in points with 12 goals and six assists. “Glading has been outstanding. He has done a terrific job of quarterbacking the offense and distributing the ball,” Kelly said.
Third-year midfielder Ben Hunt has really stepped up as of late, exploding for nine goals in the past two games. The former North Carolina All-American already has 13 points to rank 11th in the MLL.
“I think Ben Hunt has been the best midfielder in the league the last two weeks,” Cottle said. “Ben came into the season in great shape and is starting to really get a feel for the pro game. He has become a real matchup problem for opposing defenses.”
Second-year midfielder Michael Kimmel has also been productive with eight goals and four assists. Kelly believes the Chesapeake offense will become extremely formidable when perennial All-Pro selection, Kyle Dixon, and former Division I Midfielder of the Year, Steven Brooks, get going.
Chesapeake should get a lift from the return of midfielder Dan Hardy, the Cascade Rookie of the Year in 2009. Hardy, whom the Bayhawks acquired from the Outlaws just prior to the season, has not played the past two games.
Chesapeake lost its most experienced defenseman when Shawn Nadelen opted to retire after being named head coach of the Towson University men’s lacrosse program. Nadelen was the only player to have been part of the Bayhawks’ organization for its entire 11-year existence.
“Any time you lose a veteran with that much experience it hurts,” Kelly said. “At the same time, we’re very comfortable with the defensemen we have back there. I think the defense has been fairly solid so far.”
Joe Cinosky, Mike Evans, and Kyle Hartzell have started on close defense since Nadelen’s departure, while rookie Barney Ehrmann (Georgetown) has taken over as the long stick midfielder. Kelly said Ehrmann has shown an ability to cover the top offensive midfielders in the league, but will get a stiff challenge on Saturday night in the person of Boston’s Paul Rabil, a past MLL Most Valuable Player.
Chesapeake has been without its starting goalkeeper the last two games as former Team USA member Chris Garrity has been battling an injury. Fourth-year pro Joey Kemp and rookie Brian Phipps have been sharing the goaltending responsibilities of late and have performed well. Phipps has posted a .543 save percentage, which is actually higher than the .531 figure Garrity put up through three games.
“Kemp and Phipps are very talented young goalies and we have faith in both of them,” Kelly said. “I think our goaltending will get better as the season goes along because those guys will gain more experience and get more comfortable working with our defense.”
Ehrmann and Phipps (Maryland) are among four rookies who have contributed to the Bayhawks this season along with attackman Ryan Hurley (Cornell) and short stick defensive midfielder Steve DeNapoli (Hofstra).
While the lengthy road trip to start the season was trying, the good news is that Chesapeake now plays five of its final seven games in Annapolis. Cottle and Kelly both believe there is a huge advantage to playing at home in the MLL and feel the back-loaded schedule gives the Bayhawks an opportunity to close strong.
“Every game is important when you play a 12-game schedule, but certainly this game against Boston is big since we are playing at home for the first time in over a month and it’s a chance to gain a share of first place,” Kelly said. “We’ve had nine days worth of rest, which is nice. Now it’s time to get back to business and make a strong push for the playoffs.”
Chesapeake returns this weekend to battle the Cannons again at 7:00pm on Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Fans are encouraged to come early and join the Bayhawks for the Bud Light Pre-Game Tailgate in the parking lot. The tailgate will include live music and Bud Light specials and is open to all fans.
2011 Home Schedule
May 14th vs. Rochester Rattlers W (14-10)
June 25th vs. Boston Cannons 7:00 PM
July 2nd vs. Rochester Rattlers 7:30 PM
July 23rd vs. Long Island Lizards 7:00 PM
July 30th vs. Hamilton Nationals 7:00 PM
August 13th vs. Denver Outlaws 7:00 PM
August 27th MLL Semifinals 12:00 PM & 3:00 PM
August 28th MLL Championship 3:00 PM
Bayhawks season tickets can be purchased online at www.thebayhawks.comor over the phone by calling the box office 866-99-HAWKS (42957). Reserve your seat today and see the 2010 MLL Champions battle to defend their title at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium this summer.
|06/26/2011||Cannons victorious over Bayhawks|
|06/26/2011||Chesapeake Falls to Boston Despite 16 Saves by Phipps|
|06/25/2011||Buchanan Leads Cannons Past Bayhawks|
|06/23/2011||WEEK 6 GAME NOTES|
|05/27/2011||Bayhawks Next Home Game Preview!|