The tenth MLL season was one of the most exciting summers as the Bayhawks won their third MLL title. Following an up-and-down season, the Bayhawks came together and won the Steinfeld Trophy in their home stadium: Navy-Marine Corp
Major League Lacrosse (MLL) was founded in 2001 with six teams including the Baltimore Bayhawks, Boston Cannons, Bridgeport Barrage, Long Island Lizards, New Jersey Pride, and Rochester Rattlers.
In the first three seasons, the Bayhawks and the Lizards squared off in all three MLL Championship games. The Lizards took home the inaugural MLL title in 2001 and won their second Steinfeld Cup in 2003. The Bayhawks defeated the Lizards in 2002 for their first title.
Following the 2003 season, the Barrage moved to Philadelphia and would go on to win three of the next four championships including 2004, 2006, and 2007. The Bayhawks won their second title in 2005 by again defeating Long Island.
In 2006, the MLL expanded for the first time. Four expansion teams were added: Chicago Machine, Denver Outlaws, LA Riptide, and San Francisco Dragons. The teams were split into two conferences; the Eastern Conference included the Original Six and the Western Conference included the expansion teams.
In 2008, the Rochester Rattlers won the MLL title becoming the fourth team to win the championship. Following the 2008 season, five of the MLL teams ceased operations: Philadelphia, LA, New Jersey, Rochester, and San Francisco. However, the Toronto Nationals were formed as an expanion franchise, and they won the 2009 MLL title.
2010 marked the MLL's 10th Anniversary, and the Bayhawks and Lizards renewed their old rivalry. After splitting their regular season contests, both teams returned to their first championship game since the two met in 2005. The Bayhawks outlasted the Lizards in a tightly contested match to secure their third Steinfeld Trophy and equal the Barrage for the most in MLL history.
The Bayhawks are the MLL's winningest franchise through the first ten seasons of the league. The franchise has won three MLL Championships, four division titles, and have won more games than any franchise.
In 2001, the Bayhawks won the National Division crown, but fell short in the championship game to the Long Island Lizards. The following year, the Bayhawks repeated as National Division champion, and this time avenged their title game loss with their first MLL crown. In the MLL's third season, the Bayhawks continued their National Division dominance with their third straight title, but again came up just short in the MLL Championship against the Lizards. The Bayhawks made the playoffs in 2004 but were eliminated in the semifinals.
The 2005 Bayhawks squad is regarded as one of the greatest lacrosse teams ever assembled. Led by veterans such as Gary Gait and Tom Marechek, the Bayhawks dominated the MLL and set several scoring records throughout the year. The team capped the season with their fourth National Division title and their second MLL crown.
The 2006 season was a transition year for the MLL and the Bayhawks as well. BT Lax Operating purchased the Bayhawks from the prior ownership group led by the Pivec family. Many of the Bayhawks were relocated to the expansion franchises, and several others retired. The Bayhawks found themselves to be a young team and worked hard throughout the season. The Bayhawks missed the playoffs for the first time in 2006.
Following the season in November, the Bayhawks announced the team would be renamed the Washington Bayhawks and play in Washington, DC. The 2007 season found the team at Georgetown for their home games, and in 2008, the team called George Mason in Fairfax, VA their home. In 2009, the Bayhawks returned to Maryland, and signed an agreement with the US Naval Academy for their home games. The agreement lasts through the 2012 MLL season.
In March of 2010, the Bayhawks announced the new ownership group: Hometown Lacrosse, LLC led by Bayhawks president Brendan Kelly. The Bayhawks also announced that the team name would be changed to the Chesapeake Bayhawks going forward to include all areas of the region from Baltimore to Virginia and Washington, DC to the Eastern Shore. The Bayhawks will continue to play at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, MD. The Bayhawks finished the 2010 MLL season 6-6 and made their first trip to Championship Weekend since 2005. The team defeated the Boston Cannons 13-9 in the semifinals, and won the Steinfeld Trophy for the third time with another 13-9 victory, this time over their archrivals, the Long Island Lizards.