7/16/13 8:00 PM
ANNAPOLIS, MD - Following an extended road trip, the Chesapeake Bayhawks return to Annapolis for the first time in a month to begin the final push for the playoffs. The defending champion Bayhawks (6-4) are in sole possession of third place in Major League Lacrosse and will play three of their final four regular season games at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
“We always say that we want to be playing our best lacrosse down the stretch so now is the time to get it done,” Chesapeake head coach Dave Cottle said.
Chesapeake begins its postseason drive against Boston (5-5), which has recovered from a difficult start by winning four straight games to move into fourth place in the standings. The Cannons, who beat the Bayhawks 15-14 in overtime on May 18th, are led by two-time MLL Most Valuable Player Paul Rabil – a midfielder who leads the league in scoring with 43 points this season.
“This is an important game with playoff implications. Boston beat us by one earlier this season so if we can win the rematch by more than one goal we would have head-to-head tiebreaker against them,” Cottle said.
Face-offs were a key factor in the first meeting between Boston and Chesapeake, held at Harvard Stadium. Chris Eck captured 20 of 30 draws to repeatedly give the Cannons possession. Cottle recently traded for Matt Dolente, who set a Hamilton Nationals single-season record by winning 219 face-offs in 2012. Dolente, a Johns Hopkins graduate, has won 49 percent of head-to-head draws with Eck.
“We’ll see how Matt Dolente does against Adam Rand in practice this week before making a decision on that spot,” Cottle said.
Chesapeake is coming off three straight road games, going 2-1 thanks to consecutive wins over Hamilton and Ohio. The Bayhawks opened the tough stretch with a heartbreaking 16-15 overtime loss at Charlotte.
“I thought we played well in all three games. We probably played better in the loss to Charlotte than we did in the win over Ohio,” Cottle said. “I thought we passed the ball better, were tougher in terms of team defense and stronger on ground balls. We’re starting to improve in all areas and play better overall lacrosse.”
Attackman Drew Westervelt leads Chesapeake in scoring with 30 points, displaying tremendous accuracy (39 percent shooting) in scoring 23 goals. Running mate Ben Rubeor stands second on the squad with 26 points (21 goals, five assists) and just produced a hat trick in Saturday night’s MLL All-Star game.
“Our attack has played very well together and been extremely productive as a group,” Cottle said.
Second-year professional Matt Mackrides is Chesapeake’s top midfield scorer with 25 points (17, 8), using superb quickness and a crafty finishing ability. “Matt is a high character kid and a tough competitor who is really having an outstanding season,” Cottle said.
After a slow start to the season, the Chesapeake midfield unit has stepped up with Ben Hunt (22 points) and Michael Kimmel coming on strong over the past month. Five-time All-Star Kyle Dixon is the team’s fourth-leading scorer with 16 of his 25 points coming off assists.
Goalkeeper Kip Turner, who made his first All-Star appearance on Saturday, anchors a defense that ranks second in Major League Lacrosse with just 103 goals allowed. Turner stands second in the league in saves (130) and goals-against average (9.90).
It appears that eight victories will be enough to earn one of four berths in MLL Championship Weekend, being held August 24-25 at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. Cottle said the Bayhawks, who travel to league-leading Denver (10-0) on August 27, must take advantage of having three home games left on the schedule for postseason seeding purposes.
“In order to get where we want to go, we need to find a way to win at home,” Cottle said. “This is the time of the year when you need to come together as a team. I would like to see our offense and defense play at a high level at the same time. We’ve gotten great play from one or the other in various games, but need both ends clicking in order to be a championship club.”
The Bayhawks return home on Thursday, July 18th against the Boston Cannons at 7:30 PM at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Tickets are still available and can be purchased online at www.thebayhawks.comor over the phone by calling the box office 866-99-HAWKS (42957). For the Bayhawks full schedule go to www.thebayhawks.com.
2013 MEDIA CREDENTIALS
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For Chesapeake Bayhawks Team, Ticket, and Apparel Information: www.thebayhawks.comor 866-99-HAWKS
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