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Bayhawks Open Defense of MLL Title at Home Versus Rochester

March 18, 2016
Chesapeake Will Unveil New-Look Roster in MLL Season Debut in Annapolis

If you’re standing still you are falling behind. That was the mindset the Chesapeake Bayhawks’ management took into the offseason despite capturing the Major League Lacrosse championship in 2010.

It would have been easy to stand pat and attempt to repeat with the same cast of characters, but owner Brendan Kelly knew the competition would be pulling out all the stops to close the gap and was determined to make sure Chesapeake did everything possible to stay on top of the six-team professional outdoor lacrosse league.

“If you stay the same you get worse,” Chesapeake president Dave Cottle said. “We knew we had to get better in order to defend the title. We have worked hard to strengthen the roster and feel very confident we accomplished that goal. This is an incredibly talented team we have assembled for this season.”

By far the biggest offseason move involved the hiring of Cottle to oversee every aspect of the organization’s operations while also providing expertise into personnel, transactions, and strategy. Cottle, who compiled  a stellar 279-115 record in 28 seasons as a Division I head coach at Loyola College and University of Maryland, will also be on the field as an assistant coach.

“Dave is the most intelligent lacrosse person I’ve ever been around. He has a great mind for the game and has already made a huge positive impact on the direction of the Chesapeake Bayhawks,” Kelly said. “Dave brings great experience, great leadership, and great ideas to our franchise. His ability to break down film, formulate scouting reports, implement game plans, and manage personnel is phenomenal.”

Chesapeake did not mess with the core group of players that sparked last year’s impressive run to the MLL Championship. Goalkeeper Chris Garrity, defenseman Michael Evans, midfielder Kyle Dixon, face-off specialist Alex Smith and attackman Ben Rubeor provide a foundation of seasoned veterans on which to build.

Garrity, the MLL Goalie of the Year in 2005 while with Boston, enjoyed an excellent campaign in 2010 – stopping 175 shots and posting a sizzling .559 save percentage. The eight-year veteran will get great support from a close defense anchored by Evans, an All-MLL selection last season.

“Chris Garrity is coming off a great year and was a big reason for the team’s success. It is reassuring to have one of the top goalies in the league, a guy who has proven he’s a consistent stopper,” Cottle said. “Mike Evans is an absolute lockdown defender who brings a great attitude to the field and a tremendous level of toughness.”

Chesapeake returns its close defense virtually intact with 2010 starters Joe Cinosky and Shawn Nadelen also back. Nadelen missed much of last season while recuperating from a knee injury, but returned to make an impact down the stretch after helping Team USA capture the world championship.

The Bayhawks also remain stable in the defensive midfield with long-pole Kyle Hartzell teaming with versatile short-stickers Matt Abbott and Jeff Reynolds to form one of the best specialty units in the league.

Chesapeake did shake up its offensive midfield somewhat as management made some bold moves that brought in several dynamic players. Perhaps the biggest pickup was Dan Hardy, who was acquired from Denver via trade. The former Syracuse All-American was the Cascade Rookie of the Year in 2009 and produced 20 points in 2010.

“Dan Hardy presents a severe matchup problem for any opponent. He is 6-foot-4, 215 pounds and can dodge or shoot with either hand,” Cottle said.

Chesapeake coaches are equally thrilled about the addition of Steven Brooks, a former Syracuse teammate of Hardy’s who also possesses good size and gives the team a dangerous left-handed shooter up top. Cottle likes the fact Brooks is a two-way midfielder who is very adept at playing defense. Hardy and Brooks will join Dixon, the team captain and a perennial MLL All-Star, on the first midfield.

“Kyle is a great leader and the type of player who makes everyone around him better,” Cottle said of Dixon, who holds the MLL record for 2-point goals. “I think if we run Dixon, Hardy, and Brooks together it could be the best midfield line in league history.”

Heading up the attack is Rubeor and former Virginia teammate Danny Glading, who combined to produce 50 points in 2010. “Ben and Danny have been playing together for years and have great chemistry. They can both play behind the net and quarterback the offense, but are also dangerous dodging and taking the ball to the cage,” Cottle said.

Chesapeake lost one of the all-time MLL greats when Andrew “Buggs” Combs retired, but management feels it has found a very similar player in Blake Miller, who sat out last season with a broken wrist. Miller, a Hofstra product who played for Team USA in 1998 and 2006, was named All-MLL in 2005 after scoring 33 goals for the Long Island Lizards.

“Blake is a classic finisher who will fit perfectly on our team as an inside attackman,” Cottle said. “He also brings a lot of the intangibles that a team needs such as heart, toughness and leadership.”

Possession is crucial in a fast-paced, offensive-oriented league such as the MLL and Chesapeake once again boasts the top faceoff specialist in the game in Alex Smith. The former Delaware standout has led the MLL in faceoff wins and percentage all four years of his professional career.

Chesapeake will unveil its new-look roster on Saturday night (7 p.m.) against the Rochester Rattlers at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Last year’s MLL championship squad will be recognized in a pregame ceremony along with the Bayhawks’ title teams from 2001 and 2005.

It will be Johns Hopkins Pediatric Oncology Night at the Bayhawks with Christian Toomey, a 9-year-old Towson resident, serving as honorary captain. Toomey is recovering from cancer after undergoing treatment at the renowned Kimmel Cancer Center.

Other game day festivities will include the NapTown barBayq, Championship Rally Towels presented by the Greene Turtle to the first 1,500 fans and a post-game fireworks show. Tickets for the game and season tickets are on sale and going fast, so don’t miss your opportunity to get in on the action. Bayhawks 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 to see the 2010 MLL Champions battle to defend their title at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium this summer.