ANNAPOLIS, MD - Having already clinched a berth in the playoffs, the Chesapeake Bayhawks will be looking to build momentum as they close the regular season with a two-game home stand at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Two teams with plenty to play for are coming to Annapolis as the Long Island Lizards (8-4) are trying to secure a playoff spot while the Denver Outlaws (9-3) still have a shot at winning the regular season crown.
Chesapeake (9-3), the only team to have secured a berth in Major League Lacrosse Championship Weekend, will now try to lock up the top seed. That would enable the Bayhawks to play in the first semifinal (1 p.m.) on Saturday, Aug. 25
th at Harvard Stadium in Boston. That is an advantage because winner of the first semifinal will have more time to rest for Sunday’s championship game than winner of the second semifinal (4 p.m.).
“In this league, everything comes down to Championship Weekend so the goal is to be playing your best lacrosse at the end of the season,” Chesapeake head coach
Dave Cottle said. “I don’t think we’ve played a great game yet. We’ve had quarters of brilliance, but also quarters in which we become bored. In order to win a championship, we need to be a great team for two games on that final weekend. So that is the standard we’ll be striving to reach during these next two games.”
Chesapeake is coming off a tough 16-13 loss at Boston and concluded a four-game road trip that lasted the entire month of July with a 2-2 mark. Against the Cannons, the Bayhawks were undone by penalties as they committed 11 for the game and six in the fourth quarter alone.
Looking ahead to this Saturday’s matchup with Long Island, Cottle would like to see Chesapeake correct a few problems that cropped up during the loss to Boston.
“I felt like we had been making great strides defensively, but we took a step backwards on Saturday. We need to communicate better and tighten up our defensive structure,” he said. “Offensively, we settled for too many one pass, one shot possessions. We need to get back to moving our feet, moving the ball, and working for high-percentage shots.”
Cottle wants the Bayhawks to be aggressive and make opposing offensive players think twice about taking the ball to the goal, but said it’s important to play under control. He was particularly displeased that several of the penalties against Boston where whistled on offensive players.
“In order to control your performance, you need to control your emotion,” he said.
Chesapeake traveled to James M. Shuart Stadium in Hempstead (N.Y.) and defeated Long Island, 13-11, on April 28
th in the season opener for both teams. Cottle said the Lizards have become a completly different team two months later, having added half a dozen key components to the roster.
Heading the list is All-Star midfielder
Max Seibald, who leads Long Island and ranks among the MLL leaders with 23 goals and 35 points. The former Cornell All-American was still playing in the professional indoor league when the Lizards first met the Bayhawks.
Matt Gibson (Yale) and
Tommy Palasek (Syracuse) did not join the Lizards until three games into the season and have contributed 28 and 25 points, respectively. Two rookie defensemen –
C.J. Costabile (Duke) and
Tim Henderson (Army) – have also made an impact. Gibson, Palasek and Costabile have all been named Cascade Rookie of the Week this season.
Kyle Dixon, who leads Chesapeake in scoring with 39 points, said the team needs to finish strong and send a message to the rest of the league. The Bayhawks have been the class of the MLL all season and are hoping to hold first place from start to finish.
“I still think we’re the team to beat. When we play our game and click on all cylinders, we can be awfully good,” said Dixon, who set the MLL single-season record with 12 two-point goals this season. “We’ve got two great opponents coming to town the next couple weekends so it will be a good test. It’s time to come together, really focus and start playing championship caliber lacrosse.”
The Bayhawks return home on Saturday, August 4
th to battle their long time rivals the Long Island Lizards. Papa John’s will be giving away thunder sticks at the gates. 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 Bayhawks battle at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium this summer.
For the Bayhawks full schedule go to