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Grant, Westervelt Lead Way as Bayhawks Claim 5th MLL Championship

March 18, 2016
Grant, Westervelt Lead Way as Bayhawks Claim 5th MLL Championship

  Turner anchors strong defense as Chesapeake captures third title in four years



ANNAPOLIS, MD – Attackmen John Grant, Jr and Drew Westervelt combined for eight points to lead an opportunistic offense while goalkeeper Kip Turner recorded 14 saves to anchor a suffocating defense as the Chesapeake Bayhawks captured the fifth Major League Lacrosse Championship in franchise history with a 10-9 victory over the Charlotte Hounds in front of 3,792 fans at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.

Grant scored all four of his goals in spectacular fashion while Westervelt added a hat trick and an assist as Chesapeake secured it second straight crown. Brendan Kelly has built a dynasty since taking over as owner, leading the Bayhawks to titles in three of his four years at the helm. Dave Cottle has also been part of all three championships, serving as a consultant in 2010 and as president and head coach the last two years.

“It’s not just me, it’s the entire group from Coach Cottle on down. Everybody gives their heart and soul, whether active roster players or practice squad players,” Kelly said. “We’re trying to build the greatest organization in MLL history and I think we’re well on our way to doing that. I’m just really proud of the front office, the coaching staff and the players. To win three championships in four years is really unbelievable.”

Chesapeake is loaded with proven veterans and that collective experience showed through during Championship Weekend. Close defenseman Brian Spallina has now been a member of six championship teams, an MLL record. Grant has now garnered four rings in the outdoor professional league while midfielder Casey Powell has three titles with three different franchises – Long Island (2001), Rochester (2008) and Chesapeake (2013).

Meanwhile, midfielders Kyle Dixon, Ben Hunt and Matt Abbott along with attackman Ben Rubeor and defenseman Michael Evans have been part of all three Chesapeake teams that have hoisted the Steinfeld Trophy.

“This is a real tribute to our owner, who’s had the team four years and won three championships. He allows us to do everything right from the top down. He’s just great,” Cottle said of Kelly.

Powell totaled a goal and two assists while Rubeor and midfielder Matt Mackrides contributed a goal and assist apiece for the Bayhawks, who finished with an 11-5 record. Chesapeake captured the 2010 crown as the fourth seed and the last two as the second seed, proving the postseason is what matters in Major League Lacrosse.

“You have to build yourself for Championship Weekend and that’s what we do. We’re not worried about our regular season record. We’re worried about getting here and being ready to play our best on this weekend,” Kelly said. “The Bayhawks always rise to the occasion. Coach Cottle has found a way to get the team to peak at the right time.”

Turner, who took over as the team’s starting netminder last season, was one of those players who elevated his game during Championship Weekend. The seventh-year professional was on fire from start to finish in shutting down a Charlotte team that scored 17 goals in a semifinal victory over Denver. The former University of Virginia All-American made six saves in the first quarter and five in the third quarter to set the tone to start the game and coming out of halftime.

“Kip is the backbone of our defense and he definitely stepped up and came through like great players do in big games,” close defenseman Evans said.

Evans played an equally integral role, holding All-Pro attackman Matt Danowski scoreless until the final seconds. Danowski, Charlotte’s leading scorer with 33 goals this season, netted a 2-pointer as time expired.

“We played excellent defense today and I thought our goalie was outstanding,” Cottle said. “Kip Turner really came to play today and made some terrific saves. Michael Evans is a true warrior who fights you to the end.”

Chesapeake dominated possession and controlled the pace of play in a low-scoring first half. Grant had a hat trick while Powell and Rubeor both contributed a goal and assist as the Bayhawks led 5-2 at intermission.

Charlotte struck first as attackman Ryan Young scored unassisted off a nice dodge from behind, but Chesapeake responded with two straight goals to take the lead. Rubeor was the beneficiary of amazing ball movement, scoring from right on the doorstep after taking a beautiful behind-the-back pass from Powell.

Another unassisted goal by Young on another dodge from behind tied the game, but the Bayhawks outscored the Hounds 3-0 the rest of the way. Grant scored with 1.1 seconds left in the first quarter and as time expired in the second quarter – two huge goals in the grand scheme of things.

Grant opened the third period scoring with an amazing goal, scooping a loose ball and flipping the ball over his shoulder and off Ghitelman into the cage to give the Bayhawks their largest lead at 6-2.

Young singlehandedly kept the Hounds in the game, getting open on the crease and finishing a feed from Jake Tripucka then beating his man from behind the net for another unassisted goal to cut the deficit to 6-4.

However, as was the case all day, Chesapeake kept the pressure on by scoring the final two goals of the third period. Westervelt finished a fastbreak by sticking a sidearm rocket into the top corner while Mackrides made a well-timed cut to the crease and converted a nice interior feed from Kimmel to restore the four-goal lead going into the final frame.

Charlotte mounted a gutsy rally in the opening half of the fourth quarter, outscoring Chesapeake 3-1 to pull within two again at 9-7 with 8:57 remaining. The Hounds took advantage of penalties to score a pair of power play goals while Young was once again the catalyst – assisting Mike Sawyer on a pair of crank shots.

Chesapeake once again snuffed Charlotte’s momentum with Westervelt whipping in an underhanded laser to make it 10-7 with 7:07 left to go in the game. Turner and the defense took over from there, locking down the Hounds the rest of the way. Danowski fired in a meaningless 2-pointer at the buzzer to make it the seventh one-goal game of the season for the Bayhawks.

The Bayhawks 2014 Season Tickets are now available and can be purchased over the phone by calling the box office 866-99-HAWKS (42957). For the Bayhawks full schedule go to