Playoff Bound BayHawks Travel to Denver to Improve Playoff Seeding
ANNAPOLIS, MD - For the second year in a row, the Chesapeake Bayhawks are in the Major League Lacrosse (MLL) playoffs!
Despite losing in Boston this past weekend, Chesapeake was able to slide into a playoff spot thanks to an Atlanta victory over Dallas. For the time being, this has placed the Bayhawks (8-6) as the third seed in the MLL postseason, matching them up against the Blaze. This opening round matchup can still change as all four postseason teams have two games left to play. In theory, Chesapeake can move back into first-place in Major League Lacrosse and secure an ideal first-round opponent; however, this requires the Bayhawks to claim two wins over Denver.
Denver (9-5) has reclaimed their place as the top team in MLL after a brief stint removed from it. Their resurgence has been led by what has become the second-best scoring offense in the league (200GF, plus-16 goal differential). The star of this group is first-year attackman Ryan Lee who leads the Outlaws in scoring (33G, 1 2ptG, 7A) and does not appear close to slowing down. Denver's second leading producer, John Grant Jr. (21G, 19A), has been placed on Injured Reserve and will miss this game as well as the following one.
Fortunately, the Bayhawks have been successful at this neutralizing the Outlaws this season. In the two teams' meeting on August 10th, Bayhawks' Rookie of the Year nominee Warren Jeffrey held Grant to only a single goal while Lee was held pointless.
Despite having a top offense, the Bayhawks have outscored the Outlaws in their season series, 25-23. This is largely because Chesapeake boasts a league-leading defense. Entering the game, the Bayhawks have only surrendered 172 goals which is the lowest in Major League Lacrosse. In addition to Jeffrey, close defensemen Jesse Bernhardt and Chris Fennell have been instrumental to the constant improvement of this group.
Fennell, who spent stints earlier in the season on Injured Reserve, has put together a career-year that he is continuing to improve upon. The Naval Academy grad has been a groundball machine (23GB) and has shut down some of the league's best players, recently including Boston attackman Will Sands who was held to only two assists over the teams' two-game season series.
The defensive midfield has been just as stout as the close defense. The two leading long stick midfielders are a 2019 All-Star in CJ Costabile and a 2019 Defensive Player of the Year nominee in Greg Danseglio. Costabile has consistently been one of the league's best at the position since his league debut in 2012. Danseglio, who was cut by Dallas earlier this year and then signed by Chesapeake Head Coach and General Manager Dave Cottle, has emerged as a great instinctive player who has put himself in the right place and right time to collect groundballs, cause turnovers, and create problems for opponents.
With injuries affecting the defensive midfield, Matt Abbott has played major roles as a short stick defender. Abbott, as one of the best two-way midfielders in professional lacrosse, has been able to use his wide array of talents to give Cottle's defensive corps a lift. Also taking shifts as a defensive midfielder has been Ryan Keenan. Though primarily an offensive player, the Penn State product has used his speed and feisty playing style to fend away opposing midfielders.
With Chesapeake's defense as solid as they are, the offense's job should be less demanding than that of defensively deficient teams. Recently, the team has been finding scoring from throughout the lineup in players like Shane Simpson and John Wagner. The Bayhawks' second Rookie of the Year nominee, Andrew Kew, has also been a consistent producer and taken larger roles as the season has progressed.
Chesapeake hopes that veteran attackman and MLL Most Valuable Player nominee Lyle Thompson can find his scoring pace from earlier in the season (over five points-per-game). When he is at his best, Thompson's deep pool of skills are game breaking and allow him to score seemingly at will.
Thompson finds himself in a special situation with 44 goals and 67 points this season. Both of these marks are one shy of tying the Bayhawks' franchise record for single-season goals, both set by Mark Millon in 2003. With two goals or two points, the Onondaga attackman will claim sole possession of the franchise records and be cemented in an esteemed spot in Bayhawks franchise history.
Watch the Bayhawks live as they take on the Outlaws on Saturday, September 14th at 5:00 PM ET in Denver, CO. The game will be broadcast live on MyTV Baltimore and ESPN+ from Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium on the campus of the University of Denver.
Chesapeake then returns home for their final game of the season on Friday, September 20th at 8:00 PM ET. The Bayhawks will once again take on the Outlaws. This game will be School Pride Night and fans are encouraged to wear attire from their favorite middle school, high school or university. The Lexus Tailgate begins at 5:30 PM ET.
Tickets for that game are available at thebayhawks.com/tickets. They can also be purchased through the Chesapeake Bayhawks Ticket Office at 866-99-HAWKS or by contacting [email protected]
Images from this story
Lyle Thompson takes a shot for the Chesapeake Bayhawks
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Major League Lacrosse Stories from September 11, 2019
- Playoff Bound BayHawks Travel to Denver to Improve Playoff Seeding - Chesapeake Bayhawks
- Cole, Byrnes, Kearns Named Players of the Week - MLL
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