Through three games this season, the Chesapeake Bayhawks are tied for last in Major League Lacrosse in goals scored with 27 and rank second-to-last in goals allowed with 37.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the two-time defending champions enter Saturday's matchup with the Florida Launch at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium hoping to scrape themselves off the bottom of the league standings.
Goalie Kip Turner said the only thing holding Chesapeake back from fulfilling its potential is the players in its locker room.
"We have to play harder and we need to play for each other," the Severn grad said. "It's the way we've played for the last couple of years. I'm not sure what the reason is for going away from that, but we need to get back to it. Every team is going to come at us with their best effort, and we know that."
Coming off an emotional overtime victory over the New York Lizards on May 3 in their home opener, the Bayhawks failed to carry the momentum into last week's road game against the Charlotte Hounds. Charlotte scored four goals in the game's first five minutes, which put it on its way to a 12-7 victory.
It was the second time in three games this season the Bayhawks were held to single-digit goals. Bayhawks attackman Drew Westervelt, who played in his first MLL game of the year last week after completing his National Lacrosse League indoor season, said Chesapeake had trouble taking care of the ball.
"I think we were sloppy," said the former John Carroll and UMBC player, who is battling a shoulder injury suffered during the NLL season. "We all have a good understanding of what we need to do. We didn't do that on the field. Everyone was saying the right things; we just weren't putting it together with our execution. Nobody was happy or OK with our performance last week."
Although the Bayhawks did get Westervelt, Peet Poillon (UMBC, Howard Community College) and Cam Holding back on the field against Charlotte, the team is still without Joe Walters (Maryland) and Kyle Rubisch. Both Walters and Rubisch are playing in the NLL and are expected to join the Bayhawks for the team's May 31 home game against the Ohio Machine.
Additionally, while several teams have benefited from the handful of draft picks who have begun to move from the college ranks and onto MLL rosters, the Bayhawks have yet to see any of their seven selections from January's draft in action.
They could use an extra body or two at the faceoff X. This season, Chesapeake has a .387 faceoff winning percentage, which has allowed opponents to consistently outpossess the Bayhawks. The team expects former Yale faceoff specialist Dylan Levings to join the roster in two weeks and potentially help shore up a glaring weakness.
In the meantime, Chesapeake will continue using Adam Rand on draws. A week ago, the Launch won 13 of 23 faceoffs and narrowly defeated Ohio, 10-9, to move to 2-1. Florida — the former Hamilton Nationals franchise that moved in the offseason — was led in scoring by former Bayhawks attackman Casey Powell, who was a key component to Chesapeake's championship run last season.
Without Powell, the Bayhawks have yet to regain their offensive form. Despite the team's early struggles, Westervelt maintains that Chesapeake should still be viewed as the favorites to take home the Steinfeld Trophy in August.
"We're not going to walk out and win games just because we have a Bayhawks jersey on," Westervelt said. "Nobody likes losing. There's been a lot of chatter this past week of guys not accepting the effort we put out last week, and I think this week is going to be a much different story."