8/8/14 9:01 AM
Annapolis, MD – Head Coach Dave Cottle did not hesitate when asked during the Major League Lacrosse teleconference what he expected to see out of the Chesapeake Bayhawks during the final game of the 2014 regular season.
“I expect to see a commitment to our fans and a commitment to each other,” Cottle said. “I expect to see great energy and effort. I expect our team to end the season professionally.”
Chesapeake (4-9) will host Charlotte (4-9) on Saturday night at 7 p.m. on Fan Appreciation Night at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. While the contest is between clubs tied for last place, both coaches expressed a strong desire to post a victory and close the difficult campaign on a positive note.
“We’re going to compete and play hard like we always do. Anybody who does not play to win regardless of the circumstances is not the type of person we want on our team,” Cottle said.
It’s a rematch of last year’s MLL Championship, which saw Chesapeake edge Charlotte, 10-9, at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania. Both clubs have seen significant roster turnover since and injuries were also a big factor in causing both finalists to miss the playoffs this season.
“This game is about beating Chesapeake in August. If we were able to do that last year, we would have been MLL champs,” said Charlotte Head Coach Mike Cerino, whose club also lost the 2013 regular season finale to the Bayhawks when playoff seeding was on the line.
The Bayhawks have been hit extremely hard with injuries as a total of 16 players have missed at least one game while numerous key figures such as attackman Brendan Mundorf, close defenseman Michael Evans, midfielder Kyle Dixon and starting goalkeeper Kip Turner have all missed five games or more.
It speaks volumes that Chesapeake’s two leading scorers, Mundorf (27 points) and midfielder Joe Walters (35 points) both have played in just eight of 13 games. Walters missed five games to start the season due to commitments with the Rochester Knighthawks of the National Lacrosse League (indoor professional).
“It’s been a struggle, without question. It was just very disappointing that we could not consistently put the lineup we had envisioned on the field,” said Cottle, noting that Mundorf (leg), Evans (cracked ribs), Turner (broken thumb), Jason Noble (leg) and Stephen Peyser (hamstring) will also sit out Saturday night’s game.
While the Bayhawks will do everything possible to post another win, the situation affords Cottle an opportunity to evaluate several younger players. Jack Runkel, a rookie who has become the backup goalkeeper since Turner sustained a broken thumb, will play a half.
“I want to see what Jack Runkel can do in an MLL game,” Cottle said of the former Loyola University standout. “Jack might have some value to us or another team so this is a chance to get some film of how he does against top-flight shooters.”
Cottle would also like to give attackman Jimmy Dailey a chance to play in a regular season game. Dailey has been with the Bayhawks for three seasons, most of which has been spent on the practice squad, but shows up every week ready to work and help the starters get better.
However, Cottle also plans to play several veterans, particularly defenseman Brian Spallina. “It’s a balance because you want to be loyal to some of the older guys while at the same time getting a look at some of the younger guys,” he said.
The Bayhawks play their last game of the season on Saturday, August 9th, against the Charlotte Hounds at 7:00 PM at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
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