Chesapeake BayHawks Claim Sixth Major League Lacrosse Title
COMMERCE CITY, CO - Sticks, gloves and helmets went flying as the Chesapeake Bayhawks stormed onto the field to celebrate their sixth Major League Lacrosse Championship in franchise history.
Short stick defensive midfielder Isaiah Davis-Allen had just run out the remaining clock and the players erupted, running onto the field to mob winning goalkeeper Brian Phipps. Head Coach Dave Cottle was given the obligatory ice water bath while MLL representatives handed out championship t-shirts.
MLL Commissioner Alexander "Sandy" Brown carried the Steinfeld Trophy onto the field and it was appropriate that veteran attackman Steele Stanwick was the first player to get his hands on the cherished piece of hardware.
Stanwick scored the tying goal, then assisted attackman Andrew Kew on the winning goal as the Bayhawks beat the host Denver Outlaws, 10-9, in an intense championship game at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
Stanwick and fellow attackman Lyle Thompson both totaled two goals and an assist for Chesapeake, who extended its Major League Lacrosse record for most championships to six.
"We won this game because we have great people on this team. We have an entire roster of players who are great competitors and have incredible character," Cottle said. "Our people were tough-minded on both ends of the field today. It was a hard-fought game with ups and downs and we remained focused from start to finish."
This marked the fourth championship captured by the Bayhawks since 2010, the year Annapolis resident Brendan Kelly took over ownership of the franchise.
"Brendan predicted this would happen," Cottle said. "BK provides our coaching staff and players with tremendous support. He brings a championship mentality at all times."
This was the third title for Cottle as head coach after serving as an assistant under Kelly when the Bayhawks secured the Steinfeld Trophy in 2010.
"When we won back-to-back it seemed like they were so easy to get. You go five years without winning a championship and you realize just how hard it is," Cottle acknowledged. "We got it done this year because we have a team full of winners. A bunch of these guys have been part of championship teams at the professional or collegiate level and they know what it takes."
Chesapeake had not scored a goal in the entire second half when Stanwick singlehandedly swung momentum back to the visitors. Taking a pass from Colin Heacock on the left wing, Stanwick dodged to the goal then dove and completely laid out - somehow flipping a shot around the body of charging goalie Dillon Ward.
It was a remarkably athletic and skilled play that snapped a nearly 30-minute scoring drought by the Bayhawks and tied the score 9-9 with 2:15 remaining in the game. The Outlaws were called for two penalties on the play and that gave the Bayhawks a 6-on-4 advantage.
"For an old man to make such an athletic play is amazing," Cottle said with a chuckle. "Steele is one of those players that is completely invested and brings great leadership."
Kenny Massa captured the ensuing faceoff for Chesapeake and after a missed shot and turnover, the ball ended up back in the stick of Stanwick.
Operating just behind the cage, the team's offensive quarterback spotted Kew open on the right wing and delivered a beautiful setup pass. Kew caught the pass in perfect shooting position, stepped forward and unleashed an absolute cannon blast of a left-handed crank shot - whistling the ball past Ward's ear and into the upper corner at the near post.
Denver, despite dominating the second half, suddenly found itself down 10-9 with just 1:11 to go in the game. Massa won another critical draw and the Bayhawks were able to salt away the final minute
Stanwick was deservedly named the game's Most Valuable Player after having a hand in the tying and winning goals.
"This is why I still play. I've been hunting this for a while," said Stanwick, who recently turned 30 years of age. "I'm just so proud to be part of this group of players. What a great locker room - a great mix of veterans and young guys. Jesse Bernhardt and Brian Phipps are tremendous leaders."
Phipps stood tall between the pipes and finished with nine saves to backstop a defense that was under siege throughout the second half. Rookie defenseman Warren Jeffrey used his size, toughness and physical style to hold Denver attackman John Grant Jr., the all-time leading scorer in Major League Lacrosse, to one goal.
"Warren Jeffrey fought 'Junior' every step of the way. 'Junior' is a strong, powerful guy and Warren battled him the whole way," Cottle said.
Midfielder Shane Simpson, making his MLL playoff debut, scored two goals for Chesapeake, who secured their first title since 2013. Kew and midfielder Nick Mariano both contributed a goal and assist for the Bayhawks, who raced out to an early 5-0 lead then withstood a gutsy comeback by the Outlaws.
After cutting down the nets, the Bayhawks adjourned to the locker room at Dick's Sporting Goods Park where the party really got started. "When you work hard at something and you win, it feels really good and it's special," Cottle said.
Chesapeake could not have gotten off to a better start, scoring five straight goals to start.
Thompson, fresh off being named Coca-Cola Most Valuable Player in Major League Lacrosse, got things started with a strong individual move. Thompson dodged past defenseman Eli Gobrecht while cradling one-handed then suddenly lifted the stick and stuck a shot into the top corner.
Kew created the second goal by firing a shot-pass across the crease to Stanwick, who was all alone on the back side and finished from the doorstep. Mariano blew past a short stick from the right wing and finished from a tough angle to make it 3-0 at the 6:38 mark.
Mariano's goal was the first in the span of just over a minute for Chesapeake. Simpson used his speed to dodge down the alley and fired an overhand crank shot on the run at 5:57.
Just 35 seconds later, midfielder Brendan Bomberry found time and space out top and stepped into a wicked sidearm crank shot that stuck the top corner and gave the Bayhawks a commanding 5-0 lead with 5:22 remaining in the opening period.
Massa fueled the early onslaught by winning five of seven faceoffs in the first quarter.
Chesapeake endured a nearly 13-minute drought before veteran Matt Abbott, who claimed his fourth MLL title, got the sixth goal with 6:39 to go in the second quarter. Abbott dove from goal-line extended then faked low and shot high, scoring from a difficult angle to give the Bayhawks a 6-2 advantage.
That began a 3-1 run by the Bayhawks, who grabbed an 8-3 lead with 2:22 to go in the first half. Simpson sprinted out of the box, immediately took a pass and raced past the point defender to get into the heart of the defense for a short shot.
Thompson recognized a mismatch and used a stutter step to blow past a short stick, creating an easy one-on-one opportunity with the goalie. Phipps made six saves and received tremendous support from his defense as Chesapeake held Denver's potent offense to just three goals in taking a comfortable 8-3 lead at halftime. Chesapeake was outscored 2-0 in a low-scoring third quarter, reducing the lead to 8-5 going into the final frame. Denver maintained momentum into the fourth quarter, scoring four goals to take a 9-8 lead with 9:18 remaining.
"Denver has a very talented team and made a great run in the second half," Stanwick said. "We never doubted ourselves. We stayed calm, cool and collected. When the game was on the line, we stepped up and got the job done."
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Chesapeake BayHawks celebrate the Major League Lacrosse title
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Major League Lacrosse Stories from October 6, 2019
- Chesapeake BayHawks Claim Sixth Major League Lacrosse Title - Chesapeake Bayhawks
- BayHawks Win 2019 MLL Championship - MLL
- Denver Outlaws Fall 10-9 to Chesapeake BayHawks in MLL Championship Game - Denver Outlaws
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