| Annapolis, MD- After nearly four decades of coaching, Dave Cottle has learned that you can never dwell on the past. Following any win or loss, a Head Coach must review the film, extract the positives and negatives then move on to the next game.
That is precisely what Cottle did after the Chesapeake Bayhawks suffered a tough 16-14 loss at Ohio on July 4th. The following week, the Head Coach and Team President made a major personnel move and began plotting ways for the Bayhawks to finish the season strong.
"You can't worry about all the negative things that have happened in the past. You have to look forward and keep fighting to get better," Cottle said. "We're still mathematically alive for the playoffs, but none of the scenarios matter if we don't win on Thursday."
Chesapeake returns home for the first time in a month to meet the Rochester Rattlers on Thursday night (7 p.m.) at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. With four games remaining in the regular season, the Bayhawks have an opportunity to close with a four-game winning streak that would produce a .500 record and possibly a playoff berth.
"This is a critical game. If we can get this one, we will have the team we envisioned back entirely for the next game at New York," Cottle said.
Chesapeake will be without nine key players on Thursday night due to injuries and the ongoing Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championships. Starting attackman Brendan Mundorf, starting defensemen Jesse Bernhardt and Michael Evans, and top short stick defensive midfielders Matt Abbott and Dan Burns all play for the United States National Team.
Midfielder Kevin Crowley, whom the Bayhawks acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Florida Launch last week, plays for Team Canada along with standout long stick defensive midfielder Jason Noble. Meanwhile, starting goalkeeper Kip Turner, face-off specialist Adam Rand and two-way midfielder Stephen Peyser remain on the injured list.
"We are going to be missing a very large contingent of our best players so that will be a challenge," Cottle said. "However, I have a lot of confidence in the players who will dress on Thursday night and have no doubt we will have enough talent on the field to get the job done."
Rochester, which enters the contest tied for first in Major League Lacrosse with a 7-3 record, will be without many of its top players as well. Attackman Kevin Leveille and midfielder David Lawson play for the United States, attackman Mark Matthews and midfielder Jordan MacIntosh are representing Canada, and attackmen Miles and Ty Thompson are members of the Iroquois National squad.
Chesapeake's most substantial losses come on the defensive end as five key members of that unit are playing in the World Games. Cottle must replace two starting close defenseman, the team's top long pole and two of the three short stick defensive midfielders.
Mark McNeill, whom the Bayhawks selected in the seventh round of the 2014 Collegiate Draft, will likely make his MLL debut as a short stick defensive midfielder. McNeill, who prepped at St. Mary's High School in Annapolis, gobbled up 49 ground balls in his final two seasons at North Carolina.
"Mark is a terrific athlete who is very solid at the wing on face-offs and extremely effective in the clearing game," Cottle said.
Cottle will decide after practice on Tuesday and Wednesday who else to activate as a short stick defensive midfielder with rookie Noah Molnar one of the possibilities. Chesapeake signed Molnar, a Lehigh graduate, off the Denver Outlaws' practice squad last week.
C.J. Costabilewill replace Noble as the top long stick defensive midfielder. Rookie Brian Cooper, who made his MLL debut against Ohio on July 4th, is a candidate to play both long stick and short stick defensive midfielder on Thursday.
Chesapeake is fortunate that veteran Brian Spallina is returning from the injured list this week. Spallina, who suffered a broken jaw on May 17th, will step right back into the starting lineup on close defense. Brian Megill and Nicky Polanco will round out that unit on Thursday night.
Also available this week for the first time in almost two months is veteran midfielder Kyle Dixon, who has played in just four games this season due to a lingering hamstring injury.
Chesapeake lost the first meeting with Rochester in heartbreaking fashion, falling 8-7 in double overtime on June 5th. Rookie attackman Jordan Wolf, a first team All-American at Duke in 2014, did not play against the Bayhawks but has piled up 19 points in just four games. Midfielder Justin Turri leads the Rattlers in scoring with 30 points on 17 goals and 11 assists.
"We're playing at a much higher level offensively than the last time we saw Rochester. We've made a little change schematically and our ball movement is a lot better," Cottle said. "I think if we play smart, solid team defense and can hold (the Rattlers) to 10 or 11 goals we will have a very good chance to win."
The Bayhawks return home on Thursday, July 17th, against the Rochester Rattlers at 7:00 PM at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The Bayhawks 2014 Season Tickets are still available and can be purchased over the phone by calling the box office at 866-99-HAWKS (42957). Visit us at www.thebayhawks.com for the full schedule. This season, the Bayhawks and Lexus are giving away an ES350 to one lucky Season Ticket Holder at the last game of the season. Every Season Ticket purchased will amount to one entry into the giveaway.
2014 Home Schedule
July 17th vs. Rochester Rattlers 7:00 PM
July 31st vs. Denver Outlaws 7:30 PM
August 9th vs. Charlotte Hounds 7:00 PM