Of the four teams in the Major League Lacrosse playoffs, the Chesapeake Bayhawks are the only one with four Steinfeld Trophies.
But the No. 2 seed and reigning champion (9-5) is almost an afterthought as the lacrosse world eagerly waits to see whether the top-seeded Denver Outlaws can cap the league’s first undefeated regular season with a championship at PPL Park in Chester, Pa., this weekend.
And that’s fine with Chesapeake coach Dave Cottle.
“This weekend should be about Denver,” he said during a conference call Wednesday. “What they’ve accomplished in the regular season, it’s never been done before in the MLL, and they deserve all of the individual awards, the coach’s award. They’ve done an outstanding job, and the talk should be on Denver. For us, inside our locker room and inside our family, we’re confident that we have a lot of guys that have had success, a lot of guys that have won multiple championships. Some guys have won five or six, combining NCAA and Steinfeld [Trophies]. So we’re confident that we’re going to bring what we have to the table. We’re going to play the best we can play this weekend. We’ll find out if this year’s team, the 2013 team, is good enough to win a title this weekend. We’re confident, but at the same time, we’re not arrogant about it. What you’ve done yesterday has nothing to do with what you’re going to do today. So we’re going to have to play well this weekend.”
Evan Washburn, who will provide analysis of the Bayhawks’ semifinal against the No. 3 seed Hamilton Nationals (9-5) for CBS Sports Network, said no one should doubt the wealth of experience that Chesapeake can lean on.
“The team is almost the exact same team from last year,” he said. “You say the word 'pedigree.' I say they play with a swagger and a confidence that I’ve never really seen. This team thinks this is where they are meant to be and this is where they will play their best lacrosse. It’s hard to argue that, because of their success the past couple years. They won last, and they won in 2010. I think this group walks into PPL Park thinking, ‘This is our time. We’re built for this.’ … They have a reason to be confident. But to me, it boils down to, will their midfield be productive? Will they share the ball? Will they do all the things they’ve talked about doing all year? They’ve done those things at times, but can they do it over the course of two games in two days? I think the pedigree helps, I think the confidence helps, I think the talent level is there. I think it’s just a question of putting it together. I haven’t seen the consistency over the course of a season, but there’s no reason to doubt that they can’t put it together over the course of two days.”
But will the Bayhawks get past the Nationals and Outlaws in a span of a little more than 24 hours? Cottle said he is not looking past the Nationals -- who split their season series with the Bayhawks -- and had high praise for the Outlaws.
“I would say that what’s different about Denver this year is, they’ve done nothing wrong,” he said. “They’ve really done nothing wrong. I think as an outsider – and I am an outsider looking at their team – they have a tremendous IQ. They have been able to overcome their weaknesses to the point that they have not been defeated yet. Now we’ll find out in the next chapter if they can continue to play at the level that they have played at all year in the championships. … But I can promise you one thing. The Bayhawks will be ready to play this weekend.”