In the words of Bayhawks coach Dave Cottle, it's "Bayhawk time."
There is no official definition for the term, but it generally can be described as the final stretch of the regular season during which the four-time Major League Lacrosse champions usually play well enough to qualify for the playoffs.
It can also be characterized as an attitude, which the Bayhawks will need to demonstrate against the Rochester Rattlers at 7 p.m. Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
The Bayhawks (7-5) are currently in third place in the MLL and can clinch a berth in the four-team MLL Championship Weekend with a victory over Rochester (5-7). The postseason tournament will take place Aug. 24-25 at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. Chesapeake can also qualify for the playoffs with a loss by two goals or less and losses by the Charlotte Hounds (to the Hamilton Nationals) and the Boston Cannons (to the Ohio Machine).
Saturday's contest would seem to put pressure on the Bayhawks, but Cottle said he is not concerned about his players struggling in the spotlight.
"I think the guys are professionals," Cottle said. "I don't think you have to worry about whether they're going to be ready or not. They've got to get ready to go, and they know that it's kind of Bayhawk time here coming up in the month of August. We have got to start playing at the level that we think we can."
Since 2008, the Bayhawks are 6-2 in regular season games played in August. They have outscored their opponents, 117-106, in those games, qualified for the playoffs in each of the past three seasons and won two MLL championships (2010 and 2012).
Cottle said extending that history of success will raise the significance of the game against the Rattlers.
"But as professionals and as competitors, you want to play well and you want to play together," he said. "[Attackman] Casey Powell didn't come back to win a regular-season game. He came back to try to win a championship. Same with [attackman] John Grant [Jr.] and some of these other guys. So we have a bigger picture in mind."
Although the Rattlers can't clinch a playoff berth with a win over the Bayhawks, a victory would keep them mathematically alive. Nearly as important, a Rattlers loss combined with a victory by Charlotte would eliminate Rochester from consideration. Also, a win over the Bayhawks by two goals or less combined with a victory by Charlotte and a loss by Boston would keep the Rattlers at home later this month.
"Our approach is going to be, 'Hey, this is a playoff game,' " Rochester coach Tim Soudan said. "We need to come out and make the best of our opportunities here and try to keep our destiny in our own hands."
CBS Sports Network lacrosse analyst Evan Washburn said both sides need a win on Saturday.
"Obviously, [the Rattlers] need to win to keep their playoff hopes alive because they still have a shot at getting in," he said. "Chesapeake's in a good position to make the playoffs again and probably lock up the [No.] 3 seed in the next two weeks. But in the second layer, my opinion is it's more important for Chesapeake because they are a playoff team, but they just aren't playing some good lacrosse. …
"They've been wildly inconsistent all year, and there's always been this sense around the league that they'll just turn it on at the right time right around the playoffs and probably win this thing again because they have so many talented, All Star-type players. But to be honest with you, that hasn't been the case."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun