Head coach Dave Cottle insisted the Chesapeake Bayhawks would play to win their Major League Lacrosse regular-season finale against the Charlotte Hounds.
However, considering that Chesapeake had a chance to secure the top pick in the 2015 Collegiate Draft, one had to wonder.
Chesapeake left no doubt about its motivation, racing to a big early lead and never letting up in routing Charlotte, 19-13, in front of 6,322 fans on Saturday night at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Attackman Drew Westervelt led the way with three goals and three assists while midfielder Matt Abbott contributed a goal and career-high five assists for the Bayhawks (5-9), who will thus have the No. 2 selection in next year's draft. Midfielder Ben Hunt (Severna Park High) fired in four goals and assisted another for Chesapeake, which surpassed its previous season-high of 18 goals by the end of the third quarter.
"I thought they played with great energy. I thought they played with great unity and they showed that they were professionals," Cottle said of his players. "We don't play for draft picks. It's against the coaches' DNA and its against the players' DNA to not try to win. I knew what was on the line and I just wouldn't do it. It didn't feel right. We addressed that before the game and our players said that every time they put their helmets on they were going to play to win."
Attackman Matt Danowski totaled three goals and an assist for Charlotte (4-10), which came out sluggish and fell behind by three goals just 3 1/2 minutes into the game. While it may have looked that way, there was no reason for the Hounds to tank since they traded their first-round draft choice to the Florida Launch last year in exchange for midfielder Josh Hawkins (Loyola).
Because Charlotte finished in last place of Major League Lacrosse, Florida will have the No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft.
Hunt scored on the opening possession, just 24 seconds into the contest, which indicated Chesapeake's intentions. Abbott, a career-long defensive midfielder who is now playing more offense, then assisted on three straight goals to make it 4-0. Danowski finally put Charlotte on the board with 2:12 left in the opening period, but midfielder Joe Walters assisted on a goal by attackman Ben Rubeor and scored himself to give the host team a 6-1 lead going into the second stanza.
"This was about pride and finishing out the season the right way. We just wanted to go out and play Bayhawks lacrosse and show some heart," Hunt said. "We weren't trying to throw this game. We were playing to win tonight and to finish the season on a positive note."
Westervelt totaled a goal and two assists while defensive midfielder Mark McNeill (St. Mary's) contributed a goal and an assist off fastbreak opportunities as Chesapeake scored six more times in the second quarter. The Bayhawks, who led 12-5 at intermission, equaled a season-high for goals in a half this season.
"I think this was our best team effort of the entire season and I think 19 goals is a testament to that," Abbott said.
Starting goalie Tyler Fiorito (McDonogh) was outstanding in the first half with 14 saves, several of which came on point-blank shots. However, Cottle stuck with his promise to play backup Jack Runkel in the second half and he made eight saves while allowing eight goals.
Attackman Jack Rice, making his Bayhawks' debut, scored two of his three goals in the third quarter as the onslaught continued. Hunt scored unassisted and off a power play during the period as Chesapeake took a commanding 19-8 lead into the final frame.
I thought (Rice) played well. He was one of the guys we wanted to see," Cottle said. "We wanted to see whether he could play in the league because we were worried about protecting him."
Walters finished with two goals and two assists for the Bayhawks, who matched their 2009 record and equalled the most losses in franchise history. Faceoff specialist Stephen Robarge had his second straight strong outing, winning 18 of 33 draws. Against Denver on July 31, Robarge captured 29 faceoffs – six short of the MLL single-game record.
"Stephen got better and better as the season went along and I don't think there is any doubt that he can be a top faceoff man in this league," Cottle said.
Goalies Adam Ghitleman and Pierce Bassett combined to make 17 saves for Charlotte, which outscored Chesapeake 5-0 in the fourth quarter to make the final score more respectable.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun