July 19, 2013

Powell's Virtuoso Performance Comes at Right Time

Bayhawks lure CP out of retirement as he also considers run at 2014 U.S. team

by Matt DaSilva | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

Chesapeake Bayhawks midfielder Casey Powell, 37, got the better of his matchup Thursday with 25-year-old Brian Farrell of the Boston Cannons. Powell beat Farrell behind, drew a penalty, rolled off the ground and dove to score the game-tying goal with 5 seconds left in the Bayhawks' 13-12 overtime victory.

Casey Powell got the Brett Favre treatment from the Chesapeake Bayhawks.

After retiring from Major League Lacrosse as its all-time leading scorer in 2012, Powell was content to focus on his summer camp business. The Bayhawks took a flyer on the 37-year-old star anyway, selecting him in the fourth round of the MLL's supplemental draft in December.

There were signs Powell still had it. He averaged more than five points per game for the National Lacrosse League's Colorado Mammoth after they acquired him from the Rochester Knighthawks. But would his legs hold up on an outdoor field in sweltering summer heat in the youth-driven MLL?

The Bayhawks thought so.

"Guys like [Brian] Spallina, [Nicky] Polanco and John Grant Jr. have been talking me back for a couple months. My plate has cleared up with my commitments with Team 22 lacrosse camps. I decided to give it a whirl," Powell said Friday. "I had a pretty good indoor season, and I'm excited I got a little left in the tank."

That's an understatement. Powell's comments came less than 13 hours after a crowd-pleasing, virtuoso performance in his comeback game Thursday night. Playing on the Bayhawks' second midfield line, Powell looked 10 years younger as he spun behind-the-back passes and stopped, dropped and rolled his way to the game-tying goal with 5 seconds left in regulation of Chesapeake's 13-12 overtime victory over the Boston Cannons at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md.

Trailing 12-11 with less than 30 seconds left, the Bayhawks got the ball back when rookie defenseman Jesse Bernhardt intercepted a pass in the corner. After a timeout, Powell got the ball behind the goal and drew a penalty when Brian Farrell, Boston's 25-year-old defenseman, knocked him to the turf from behind.

Powell got up, rolled without losing possession of the ball, regained his footing and dove in front of the crease as he flipped a shot around Cannons goalie Jordan Burke.

Powell's final line — three goals, one dazzling assist to Ben Rubeor — justified the hype surrounding his return.

"I continue to surprise myself and I think other people. I don't know how I keep maintaining this," said Powell, whose summer training regimen involved little more than jogging and occasionally stepping in with a U11 team he coaches. "My intention in coming back is to try to win a title."

"He's a great passer and very unselfish. He's not afraid of the moment," Bayhawks coach Dave Cottle said earlier this week. "There are lots of positives to having a Casey Powell on your team."

"I feel like I've been training for this moment my whole life. It would be an honor to play for the [2014] U.S. national team. If I continue to play the way I did [Thursday], hopefully they will consider me."

— Casey Powell

Powell, who lives in South Florida, joined the team in Maryland last week for a Thursday practice before the MLL All-Star break. His teammates took him tubing on the Chesapeake Bay and they had a crab feast. He felt good in practice and enjoyed reuniting with the Bayhawks' MLL veterans while hobnobbing with the younger players.

"Coach Cottle's words were, 'Casey, we've got a lot of fighter pilots. All we need is an aircraft carrier,'" Powell said. "We have a lot of weapons out there."

So CP is back. And his timing could not have been better. After Thursday's win, the Bayhawks are two games up on Boston for third place in the MLL standings and can pull even with Hamilton for second place if the Nationals lose Saturday. With three games remaining and the top four teams advancing to the playoffs, Chesapeake now owns the head-to-head tiebreaker against Boston, should it come down to that.

And Powell might not be done with comebacks. The two-time U.S. national team member intends to try out for Team USA this summer with hopes of going out on top in 2014, much like his brother Ryan did as captain of the 2010 gold medal-winning U.S. team.

"I feel like I've been training for this moment my whole life. It would be an honor to play for the U.S. national team and put that jersey on. If I continue to play the way I did [Thursday], hopefully they will consider me," said Powell, who was co-captain of the 2006 team that lost to Canada in the FIL final. "I'm still bitter. In 2006, I was prepared physically, but not mentally. I have more experience. Ryan did a great job of leading his team. He wasn't a starter, but he was great in the locker room. I would love the opportunity to help [the U.S.] win a gold medal in any capacity I could."

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