Annapolis, MD- President Brendan Kelly and first-year general manager Spencer Ford have been busy this offseason reshaping the roster of the Chesapeake Bayhawks. A series of trades and free agent acquisitions have infused the franchise with significant talent and now it’s time to find out which players are going to help the Bayhawks capture the Major League Lacrosse Championship.
The Chesapeake Bayhawks plan to take their preseason preparations to a new level with the introduction of an intensive training camp, which culminates with a pair of exciting exhibition games next weekend. Ford and head coach John Tucker have invited 40 players to compete for 23 spots on the regular season active roster.
“I think this will be one of the most competitive training camps in Bayhawks history,” Ford said. “We have really reloaded this roster and I think the overall talent level is tremendous. We’re bringing in 40 great players and some of them are going to get cut. Guys are going to be fighting for their professional lives so I expect the intensity to be off the charts.”
Chesapeake’s current roster consists of 18 midfielders, seven attackmen, eight close defensemen and four goalkeepers. Head coach John Tucker and assistant John Lamon will be hard-pressed to pare down the numbers at each position. “In my opinion, we have six attackmen who could potentially be All-Pro. Every one of them could play for any team in this league, but they might not all make our roster,” Ford said.
Tucker, entering his second season as Bayhawks head coach, said the team must strengthen its goaltending situation and increase its production at attack. Tucker likes the moves that have been made since the new ownership group took over and agreed the training camp battles will be brutal.
“Spencer has done a great job of adding players at positions of need. Our talent, from top to bottom, is much improved,” Tucker said. “We have a lot of great players who are hungry to earn a professional paycheck. It will be interesting to see who is willing to lay it on the line in order to be one of the men who gets to put on a Chesapeake Bayhawks jersey come May 15 (season opener versus Long Island Lizards).
The Bayhawks will conclude their training camp with exhibition games against Team England on Friday, May 7 (6 p.m.) and the Denver Outlaws on Saturday, May 8 (5 p.m.) at Severn School. Admission to both games is free to the public. Ford, a former MLL All-Star who played for the Bayhawks last season, said fans should attend the two exhibition games and take advantage of the opportunity to see the world’s finest lacrosse players in action.
“This is a chance for kids to watch high-level lacrosse in an intimate setting and interact with members of the Bayhawks,” Ford said. “We want fans to come out and watch this team come together. Having an audience will push our players to compete even harder and show what they can do.”
There have always been preseason scrimmages during the 10-year history of Major League Lacrosse, commissioner Dave Gross said. However, the idea of an exhibition game between two MLL teams is another innovative way to promote the pro game.
“Any time we can give the public access to the players and the product in this way it provides further exposure for the league as a whole,” Gross said. “I’ve been very impressed with some of the things the new Bayhawks ownership is doing to drum up interest. Brendan Kelly and his people are thinking outside the box.”
Chesapeake Bayhawks Training Camp Schedule
(at Severn School in Severna Park)
Friday, April 30 (6-8 p.m.)
Sunday, May 2 (5-7 p.m.)
Bayhawks Exhibition Weekend Schedule
(all games at Severn School in Severna Park)
Friday, May 7 vs. Team England (6 p.m.)
Saturday, May 8 vs. Denver Outlaws (5 p.m.)
Sunday, May 9 Denver Outlaws vs. Team England (10 a.m.)