The Chesapeake Bayhawks' loss to the Major League Lacrosse-leading Denver Outlaws on Saturday was not as troubling as the manner in which the team dropped that 14-12 decision.
Chesapeake squandered a 5-1 advantage in the second quarter and then could only watch as Denver opened the final period with four unanswered goals to pull away to remain undefeated at 12-0. Coach Dave Cottle acknowledged that the Bayhawks missed a prime opportunity to secure their postseason future.
“I felt disappointed,” he said during a MLL conference call Wednesday. “I thought we were in position to win. But give credit to them. They made the plays at the end of the game. But yeah, when we left there, we felt like we left some scraps on the table.”
The setback snapped a three-game winning streak and kept Chesapeake in a five-team race for the final two berths in the playoffs. Could the negative feelings from that loss linger into Saturday’s home contest against the Rochester Rattlers at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis?
“I worry about everything. I don’t [worry about a letdown], because I think all of these guys as professionals. They have this cornerback mentality that they move from one week to the next,” Cottle said. “If it happens, it happens. But I don’t worry about it. [Defenseman] Brian Spallina has won five rings in this league. In the locker room, he’ll say the things that will help get them ready. The same with [defenseman] Nicky [Polanco]. The same with [attackman] John Grant [Jr.]. I think these guys understand the big picture, and to a degree, the big picture has been part of our problem because we haven’t done the little things. But we’ll be ready to play on Saturday.”
Cottle’s confidence in his players came through in a conversation he had recently with CBS Sports Network lacrosse analyst Evan Washburn.
“He really does think that these guys have the mental makeup and the physical makeup to be a championship team,” Washburn said. “What they’ve lacked is they’ll either come out and play with a bunch of swagger but not a sense of urgency or they’ll come out with a sense of urgency but a lack of execution. We have yet to see a game where they’ve put those two together. Coming off that Denver game, I think it’s fair to say that there should be concern about overlooking a Rochester team that hasn’t played very well all year. But I imagine that they would not, because they haven’t clinched a spot in the playoffs, and if they win, they will do that. So they have everything right in front of them and they’re at home. So if they come out and are dominant and win, they’re in the postseason and they can continue to say that they have a shot at winning this thing again.”