Perhaps it’s fitting that two of lacrosse’s most celebrated – and older – players enjoyed one more moment atop the sport’s landscape.
Proving that age is just a number, attackmen John Grant Jr. and Casey Powell powered the Chesapeake Bayhawks to a 10-9 victory over the Charlotte Hounds in the Major League Lacrosse title game Sunday at PPL Park before an announced 3,792.
The No. 2 seed, which finished the regular season with a 9-5 record, captured the franchise’s fifth Steinfeld Trophy and joined the 2006 and 2007 Philadelphia Barrage as the only teams in league history to claim back-to-back crowns. Chesapeake’s run of three championships in four years – the franchise also won in 2010 – is matched only by Philadelphia’s spurt of three titles between 2004 and 2007.
Charlotte, the No. 4 seed which went 7-7 in the regular season, was trying to win its first league crown in only the franchise’s second year of existence.
The Bayhawks’ triumph would not have been possible without the 39-year-old Grant and the 37-year-old Powell. Grant scored four goals en route to being named the Most Valuable Player of the weekend, and Powell added one goal and two assists to spark the offense.
Grant, who won Steinfeld Trophies with the Rochester Rattlers in 2008, the Toronto Nationals in 2009 and Chesapeake in 2012, scored a goal in the first quarter, two in the second and one in the third.
“It’s the only reason I play, to win championships,” he said. “I’m very fortunate to be on a phenomenal team, and I just try to contribute when I can and stay out of the way the other times. What can I say? We’re a veteran squad who played up and down all season and we put it together at the right time, and that’s the beauty of this league.”
Powell, who helped the Long Island Lizards and Rattlers claim league titles in 2001 and 2008, respectively, posted a goal and an assist in the first period and an assist in the second.
“As we get older, John and I were talking last night that you don’t get these opportunities,” Powell said. “We’re running out of these opportunities. So we knew we wanted to capitalize. John played a great first half. I just tried to do my thing. I just felt really good in the first half, and we just carried it to victory.”
Coach Dave Cottle joked that people tend not to expect those kind of results from two players born in the 1970s.
“It’s ridiculous. They’ve got 74 years between them,” he quipped. “The thing is, we played seven offensive middies [Saturday]. So we weren’t tired in the midfield. There’s some tread on the tire left with those guys, but they’re great players. When Casey Powell and John Grant play and they’re sharing the ball, you’re going to have a great team.”
The Hounds outscored Chesapeake, 5-2, in the fourth quarter, but attackman Drew Westervelt helped finish what Grant and Powell started. The John Carroll and UMBC graduate scored two of his three goals in the final frame to help cement the victory.
Westervelt totaled three goals and one assist, and the Bayhawks also got a pair of one-goal, one-assist efforts from Ben Rubeor and Matt Mackrides.
Defensively, goalkeeper Kip Turner (Severn) made 14 saves to Adam Ghitelman’s eight. For the weekend, he stopped 28 of the 48 shots he faced, posting a .583 save percentage.
“Just watched a little bit more film on this team,” Turner said of the Hounds, who stunned the top-seeded and previously unbeaten Denver Outlaws, 17-14, in a semifinal Saturday. “Putting up that number against Denver was impressive. So we knew we had our hands full with their offense coming in, and we needed to game plan for them. We needed to slide and we did a great job with our timing on everything.”
Young paced Charlotte with four goals and three assists. But attackman Matt Danowski, who had finished the regular season ranked fourth in the league in scoring with 49 points on 33 goals (6 2-pointers) and 10 assists, was limited by Bayhawks defenseman Michael Evans (South River, Johns Hopkins) to a meaningless 2-point goal with time running out in regulation.
“Matt’s – in my eyes – the best player in this league,” Evans said. “He’s very versatile, and I was fortunate enough to contain him today. But he’s gotten me a bunch, and it’s a great battle.”Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun