April 24, 2014

MLL 2014 Preview: No. 1 Chesapeake Bayhawks

by Phil Shore | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

Local product Ben Hunt is just one of several weapons at the two-time defending MLL champion Bayhawks' disposal this summer. (Kevin P. Tucker)

2013 Record: 9-5 (champion)
Coach: Dave Cottle, 3rd season

No franchise has won more MLL championships than the Bayhawks. Chesapeake has won two consecutive MLL championships — something only the now-defunct Philadelphia Barrage had previously done — and in 2014 could be the first team in league history to three-peat.

The team does not think about making history, however.

"The worst thing we can do is worry about a championship," said Bayhawks attackman Drew Westervelt. "I think, yes, we play in a league for the goal of winning the championship, but there's a lot more that goes into it. We're looking at establishing chemistry in our locker room. If we can continue the chemistry we've had the past couple years well be in a place to be a really tough opponent."

It sounds like a clichéd response, but head coach Dave Cottle said his main focus isn't on winning one single game or looking ahead to championships. For him, the goal is much less specific.

"We're going to try and concentrate on improving," Cottle said. "We're going to have good days and bad days. If we can focus on our weaknesses, the results will take care of them self. When results become the focus you lose focus on getting better every week."

Don't mistake them for not caring about winning games, however. In fact, the Bayhawks acquired players this offseason that will not only help them win this year, but for several seasons.

With former league MVP Brendan Mundorf and All-Stars Joe Walters and Peet Poillon among the new arrivals, the rich just got richer.

"I think we've done a good job in the offseason of trying to get a hair younger and on both the defense and offense," Cottle said, "but also trying to find known commodities that we thought had tremendous value."

Given their talent-concentrated roster, the Bayhawks have to compete with the game-day salary cap restrictions. It can complicate things, but Cottle chooses to look at the positives.

"If they make sacrifices and know it's their turn to sit, they can get healthy and reenergize their batteries, and in the long run it's going to wind up helping us," he said. — Phil Shore

MVP Candidate

This article appears as a part of the MLL preview in the May 2014 issue of Lacrosse Magazine. To start your subscription, join US Lacrosse today!

A Brendan Mundorf

Nagging injuries limited Mundorf to only 11 games last year but the 2012 MVP still managed to tie for tenth in the league with 41 points. Playing alongside other equally talented players should take some pressure off, which could help him put up big numbers once again."I've played with Brendan for a number of years," said Westervelt, a fellow UMBC alum and teammate with the Philadelphia Wings. "He's a terrific player. He's going to compliment our offense very well."

Next Best

M Matt Abbott, D Jesse Bernhardt, M Dan Burns, M Kyle Dixon, D Michael Evans, M Matt Mackrides, M Peet Poillon, M Jeff Reynolds, D Brian Spallina, M Joe Walters, A Drew Westervelt

New Arrivals

D Matt Harris, D Brian Megill, A Brendan Mundorf, M Stephen Peyser, M Peet Poillon, M Joe Walters

The Bayhawks flipped John Grant Jr. and Casey Powell for Mundorf and Walters, two players close in talent level and much younger. Adding Harris and Megill gives the team some strength and youth behind aging defenders Brian Spallina and Nicky Polanco. Getting Peyser was a bit under the radar compared to the other transactions, but because of his ability to face-off, Cottle believes getting him may be one of the more impactful moves they made.

Behind Enemy Lines

Opposing coaches thoughts on the Bayhawks

"They're lifting the level of play in the MLL. It's not just that they're good, they're forcing everybody else to get better. They're the class of the MLL. ... They're well-coached. They are going to be a tough team to beat. ... They've got the best player in the game right now playing for them. Matt Abbott does it all. They've won the championship the past two years. They've got big strong middies, tough defensemen and they play as a team and peak at the right times. ... Chesapeake has the most talented roster in the league."

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