7/30/14 3:02 PM
Annapolis, MD – The Denver Outlaws will be seeking to secure home-field advantage for the Major League Lacrosse playoffs when they come to Annapolis on Thursday night to meet the Chesapeake Bayhawks.
Chesapeake Head Coach Dave Cottle doesn’t care one bit about the Outlaws and has no interest in simply playing spoiler.
“We won’t talk five seconds about stopping Denver from getting a home playoff game,” Cottle said. “Our complete focus is on the Chesapeake Bayhawks. We want to protect our home field and we want to finish this season on a positive note.”
Chesapeake was officially eliminated from playoff contention based on last weekend’s results. The Bayhawks nonetheless went out and played a superb brand of lacrosse in coming from behind to beat the New York Lizards, 12-11, at Stony Brook University.
Cottle said he “got after the guys” in pre-game warm-ups, pushing them to play with energy, effort and enthusiasm. That was evident on the field in the person of Brian Spallina, who set the tone with several big hits and drew three penalties in the process. Spallina and longtime close defense running mate Nicky Polanco sparked an impressive fourth quarter comeback by scrapping with several Lizards after JoJo Marasco taunted after scoring a goal.
“Brian plays on the edge. Sometimes he crosses the line, but there is no denying that Brian sets a tone with his physical play,” Cottle said. “I thought on Sunday that some of the Lizards didn’t want to go into the middle of the field because of Brian Spallina.”
Cottle also made it clear that Chesapeake would not be pushed around when he drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for yelling at the officials. Cottle was angry that no penalty was called when a member of the Lizards slashed one of the Bayhawks in the back during a face-off.
“I did not curse, but I was very animated. I am not going to stay silent when an opponent cheap shots one of our players with a two-fisted swing and gets away with it,” Cottle said.
Denver Head Coach B.J. O’Hara watched Chesapeake beat New York and came away impressed. O’Hara knows the second-place Outlaws (8-4) are going to get the Bayhawks’ best shot on Thursday night at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
“Chesapeake showed against New York that they are not going to roll over for anyone. They played a very inspired game,” O’Hara said.
Chesapeake, which hosts the Charlotte Hounds on Saturday, August 9th, has a chance to close the regular season on a three-game winning streak and finish with a 6-8 record. Cottle and the rest of the coaching staff, which includes defensive coordinator Tony Resch along with assistants John Lamon and Brian Reese, will be evaluating players both from a physical and mental standpoint.
“Playing for pride is very important. This is about who you are as a player,” Cottle said. “We have guys on our team who are high school and college coaches. If they can’t get themselves motivated to play in a situation like this, how can they try to tell their own players to do so?”
Asked during the weekly MLL teleconference whether players were auditioning for jobs in 2015, Cottle responded that “they definitely are.”
“This game has tremendous meaning for the Bayhawks. This is about how we’re going to feel about ourselves going into the offseason and where we’re headed in the future,” he said.
Chesapeake’s hopes of capturing a third straight MLL championship and fourth in the past five years were spoiled by an uncanny number of injuries. Only four players – attackman Ben Rubeor, midfielder Matt Mackrides and defensemen Nicky Polanco and Brian Megill – have played in all 12 games.
Attackman Brendan Mundorf, the team’s third-leading scorer with 23 points despite missing five games, hopes to suit up on Thursday against his former team. Short-stick defensive midfielder Dan Burns, who suffered a leg injury while representing the United States at the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championships, is also expected to dress.
However, Chesapeake will continue to be without starting goalkeeper Kip Turner (broken thumb) and standout long-stick defenseman Jason Noble, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury while playing for Team Canada. They will be joined on injured reserve by starting close defenseman Michael Evans, who aggravated cracked ribs during Sunday’s game in New York.
Bayhawks fans will get their first in-person look at newly-acquired midfielder Kevin Crowley, the 2013 MLL Offensive Most Valuable Player. Chesapeake traded midfielder Steven Brooks and two other players to Florida for Crowley, who has amassed 130 points in four MLL seasons.
The powerful 6-foot-4, 200-pounder was the catalyst of Canada’s upset of the U.S. in the finals of the World Championships, scoring five goals. The former Stony Brook standout, who scored 38 goals and totaled 55 points for Hamilton in 2013, had an assist in his debut for the Bayhawks on Sunday.
Goalie Tyler Fiorito, who has started the last four games in place of Turner, was named Warrior Defensive Player of the Week after equaling a career-high with 15 saves against New York.
“Tyler struggled early, but this is who we think he is,” Cottle said. “Tyler was an elite goalie at the high school and college level so why wouldn’t he be an elite goalie at the professional level.”
The Bayhawks return home tomorrow (Thursday, July 31st) against the Denver Outlaws at 7:30 PM at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The Bayhawks 2014 Season Tickets are still available and can be purchased over the phone by calling the box office at 866-99-HAWKS (42957). Visit us at www.thebayhawks.com for the full schedule. This season, the Bayhawks and Lexus are giving away an ES350 to one lucky Season Ticket Holder at the last game of the season. Every Season Ticket purchased will amount to one entry into the giveaway.
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