BOSTON – Midfielder Ben Hunt totaled six points on the strength of two 2-point goals as the Chesapeake Bayhawks routed the Denver Outlaws, 16-6, at Harvard Stadium to become the first franchise in Major League Lacrosse history to capture four championships.
Kip Turner recorded 12 saves to anchor another suffocating defensive effort as Chesapeake held Denver to its lowest goal output of the season. The Outlaws, who came into the game averaging more than 16 goals per game, were held to just one in the second half by a stingy defense led by long sticks
Nicky Polanco and
Steven Brooks scored two goals and assisted two others for Chesapeake (12-4), which secured its second MLL crown in three years. Attackman
Danny Glading contributed two goals and an assist for the Bayhawks, who dominated possession and outshot the Outlaws 55-38 in the contest.
“Going into today, I was very confident that we were going to play a great game. This is the first team I’ve ever coached that we didn’t need to trick anyone to win. We had great talent, great character and great chemistry. All we had to do was execute and we would win,” Chesapeake head coach
Dave Cottle said. “Coming into the tournament, I thought we had the best team on paper and we proved that on the field this weekend. I’m really proud of the players for putting together two great performances on back-to-back days.”
When it was over, all the Bayhawks coaches and players piled into a mosh pit on the field while posing for pictures and taking turns hoisting the Steinfeld Trophy. It was the second title in the three-year ownership of
Brendan Kelly, who sported a broad smile as he hugged every single coach and player afterward.
“You join the Chesapeake Bayhawks to win championships. We don’t play to just get into the playoffs, we play to win the title,” said Evans, an All-MLL selection. “Brendan Kelly and Dave Cottle put together something special this season. We had great group of players who are all winners and understood what it took to win a championship.”
Ben Rubeor was named Most Valuable Player of MLL Championship Weekend after scoring eight goals in two games. “Benny is such a high character guy with tremendous intangibles. He’s a great teammate who cares so much about winning and does all the little things. Those little things turned into a lot of big things this weekend.”
Turner was a brick wall in the postseason, totaling 26 saves to stymie the two top-scoring offenses in the league this season.
Dan Hostetler and
Mike Simon handled long stick defensive midfielder responsibilities while
Jeff Reynolds and
John Orsen were the short stick defenders as Chesapeake set an MLL Championship Weekend record by allowing just 16 goals to Boston and Denver.
“Our goalie really stepped up in this tournament. I think from the second quarter of the semifinal on, he was the best player in the tournament,” Cottle said. “Defensively, we started winning our individual matchups and that meant we didn’t have to slide so much. We were able to play solid, straight-up defense because we weren’t scrambling around, which was crucial. I really felt Mike Simon was a difference-maker. He gave us the final piece of the puzzle.”
John Grant Jr. and midfielder
Michael Kimmel scored two goals apiece for Chesapeake, which won the ground ball battle by outhustling Denver. Face-off specialist
Alex Smith was sensation for the second straight game, capturing 17 of 25 draws while working against
Anthony Kelly and
Smith’s performance backed up the confidence that Cottle showed in him.
Adam Rand capably handled face-offs all season for the Bayhawks while Smith recuperated from elbow surgery. Smith, who ranks fourth all-time in the MLL with 903 career face-off wins, was also a force in the semifinals – winning 13 of 17 draws in the first half.
“We had a tough decision to make, whether to dress 19 or 20. The only way we could dress 20 was to sit down Alex,” Cottle said. “We talked about it and decided we had the greatest face-off man in the history of the game. We just had a feeling that he was going to dominate, and that’s exactly what he did.”
Brooks was the catalyst early, scoring two goals and assisting on two others as Chesapeake took a 5-2 lead ter one period. Glading had two goals as the Bayhawks used a 5-0 run to wipe out a 2-0 deficit.
Hunt opened the second period by blasting an overhand rocket into the net from 2-point range to increase Chesapeake’s lead to 7-2. Attackman
Brendan Mundorf got open inside for a goal that ended a 7 ½ minute Denver drought and snapped a 7-0 Chesapeake run.
“We got to 16 yesterday without Brooks, Glading or Hunt scoring goals. So we knew there were some scraps on the table for us today,” Cottle said. “When Ben went out and hit a couple twos, when Danny and Steven also stepped up, it was a big lift.”
Grant and Rubeor scored on great individual moves as the Bayhawks outscored the Cannons by two in the second period to take a 10-5 halftime lead. Grant and Rubeor both beat their defenders with lightning-quick inside rolls.
Hunt blasted in his second 2-pointer to spark a 4-0 run to open the second half as Chesapeake grabbed a nine-goal lead. Kimmel scored unassisted while Rubeor finished a fast break off a feed from Hostetler as the Bayhawks made it 14-5 with just 6:53 elapsed in the third quarter. Turner stopped the only four shots on goal as Denver was shut out during the period. The Outlaws only managed one goal in the fourth quarter in being held to the fewest goals in MLL championship game history.
“It’s incredible to win the championship two out of three years. That is a great testament to everyone involved with our organization,” Chesapeake owner
Brendan Kelly said. “This is what happens when you have quality people who commit to each other and commit to a goal. I’m really happy for Dave Cottle because he’s one of the greatest coaches in lacrosse history. I’m thrilled that he got to taste a championship.”
The Bayhawks have released 2013 Season Tickets to the public. Call your ticket representative and reserve your seat today and see the Bayhawks battle at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium this summer.