ANNAPOLIS, MD- The Boston Cannons have possession of a piece of hardware the Chesapeake Bayhawks want back. For a year, the Steinfeld Trophy was displayed in the lobby of the Bayhawks headquarters in Annapolis. Now the trophy that goes to the Major League Lacrosse (MLL) champion resides in Beantown.
There is still a long way to go in the 2012 season, but Saturday night’s showdown between Boston and Chesapeake has generated quite a buzz. That’s to be expected when the last two MLL champions meet with first place on the line.
Chesaepake (6-1), which has won four straight to surge to the top of standings, will seek to solidify its status as the team to beat this season when it hosts Boston (5-2) at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. It figures to be a shootout as the Bayhawks and Cannons are two of the league’s highest-scoring teams with 113 and 112 points, respectively.
“Chesapeake’s probably the best team in the league,” Boston head coach
Steve Duffy declared on the MLL teleconference this week. “They have a high-powered offense and a veteran defense. They have a bunch of midfield threats while the attack is as good as any in the league.”
Chesapeake beat Boston in the playoff semifinals en route to capturing the MLL Championship in 2010. The Cannons returned the favor last season, edging the Bayhawks 14-13 in a thrilling semi on the way to winning their first Steinfeld Trophy.
“Boston has been the measuring stick during the regular season for the last couple years,” said Chesapeake head coach
Dave Cottle, who did not want to place too much importance on this first of two matchups between the teams. “We don’t need to be the best team in the league on Saturday night; we just need to be the best team in the stadium. Our whole goal is to continue to improve. Boston is going to be a tough test. We’ll see how good we are and how far we have to go.”
This game will feature the top two offensive midfielders in lacrosse as Boston’s
Paul Rabil leads the league in scoring with 39 points while Chesapeake’s
Kyle Dixon ranks third with 27 points. Long stick midfielders
Dan Hostetler and
Barney Ehrmann will share the task of defending Rabil, who has piled up 213 points in five professional seasons.
Rabil, a two-time MLL MVP, has been more of a feeder this season – making opponents pay for double-teaming and sliding to him by dishing off 22 assists. “Paul is an unbelievable dodger and is going to draw a lot of attention. That creates a lot of openings for other players and our guys have done a good job of moving when Paul has the ball,” Duffy said.
Matt Poskay, a true sniper with a deadly accurate shot, has scored 18 goals this season and 188 in his seven-year career. Midfielder
Mike Stone has benefitted from playing alongside Rabil and already has 15 goals this season, five more than he scored his first two seasons in the league.
Ryan Boyle is the quarterback of the offense and ranks fifth in the league with 25 points, 18 of which have come from assists. Close defenseman
Mike Evans will likely get the assignment of guarding fellow All-Star selection Boyle.
“Boston has the league’s best offensive player in Paul Rabil and the league’s smartest offensive player in Ryan Boyle,” Cottle said. “If we can defend six-on-six without having to do too much sliding it will really improve our chances of winning.”
Chesapeake also boasts an explosive offense with
Steven Brooks joining Dixon to provide a dangerous one-two punch in the midfield. After suffering through two subpar seasons, Brooks has bounced back to total 21 points on 16 goals (two 2-pointers) and three assists. Second-year pro
Michael Kimmel is another midfield weapon and has contributed 17 points.
Drew Westervelt and
John Grant, Jr. have proven an effective attack combination with the former working on the wing and the latter operating from behind. Westervelt has totaled 20 points while Grant has 13 points in just four games.
Danny Glading, another veteran attackman, is also enjoying a strong season with 14 points.
“The worst thing you can do against Boston is take a bad shot or commit a turnover because they go from defense to offense so well. When they come downfield it’s like there are six attackmen because they all can shoot and pass,” said Cottle, noting that
Brian Farrell and
Kyle Sweeney are two of the most offensive-minded long stick midfielders in MLL.
A key matchup will come at the face-off stripe where Chesapeake rookie
Adam Rand will battle Boston standout
Chris Eck. Rand has been a pleasant surprise for the Bayhawks this season, winning 105 of 194 draws. Eck has become one of the best face-off specialists in the league and won 120 of 200 this season.
Boston has the top goaltender in the league statistically as
Jordan Burke ranks first in both save percentage (.583) and goals-against average (9.36).
Kip Turner, who stands fourth with an 11.42 goals-against average, will likely start for Chesapeake.
“Kip spent five seasons as a Boston player and I think he deserves the opportunity to play against his former team,” Cottle said.
The Bayhawks return home on Saturday, June 23
rd to battle the Boston Cannons. Petitbon Alarm Company will be giving away sunglasses. Tickets can be purchased online at
www.thebayhawks.com or 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