Adversity hit the Chesapeake Bayhawks early during the team's season opener Sunday against the Boston Cannons. And it struck in the worst possible spot.
Minutes into the game, Bayhawks goalie Kip Turner (Severn) took a shot to the groin, better described by Turner as "the place you don't want to get hit," and had to leave the game. By the time it ended, the rest of the Bayhawks had taken a beating of their own.
Chesapeake was shredded by Cannons midfielder Kevin Buchanan (Calvert Hall), who finished with seven goals on nine shots to lead his team to a 15-9 rout. The Bayhawks will attempt to regroup Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium against the New York Lizards. Last week, the Lizards beat the Rochester Rattlers, 18-15.
"I didn't think we fought our matchups very well," Bayhawks coach Dave Cottle said. "We didn't dodge hard, and I don't think we defended hard. New York scored 18 last week, and if we play bad defense again, they might score 100."
Perhaps the lone bright spot for Chesapeake was the play of Brendan Mundorf, who played his first game as a member of the Bayhawks after spending his first eight years in Major League Lacrosse with the Denver Outlaws. The former UMBC and Mount St. Joseph star led the Bayhawks' offense with three goals and three assists.
But it took the Bayhawks almost 20 minutes to score against Boston, which Mundorf said can't be repeated for the team to avoid starting the season with consecutive losses.
"If you want to win is this league, you need to be scoring 15 or more goals," Mundorf said. "I think we know we have to play better as an offense. We're not worried about how many points the other team is scoring; we just need to play our offense."
Once again this week, Chesapeake will be without several key players because of the ongoing indoor National Lacrosse League playoffs. Drew Westervelt (UMBC, John Carroll), who was the Bayhawks' leading scorer last season, will be absent along with Joe Walters (Maryland), Cam Holding and Kyle Rubisch.
Without Westervelt against the Cannons, Cottle moved the team's top-scoring midfielder from last season, Matt Mackrides, to attack. However, it's unclear whether Mackrides will stay at the position this week. On Thursday, the Bayhawks acquired former Maryland attackman Grant Catalino off the Rattlers' practice squad. The team is unsure whether Catalino will play Saturday, but if he does, he could start in place of Mackrides, Cottle said.
"He gives us a look that's similar to Drew Westervelt," Cottle said of Catalino. "He's a big shooter who can stretch the defense a little bit."
The last two times Chesapeake played New York, the Bayhawks scored 28 goals, 21 of which came from the attack. Against Boston, only two of the team's nine goals came from the midfield. The Bayhawks were able to win the faceoff battle against Boston, but repeating that performance again against New York could prove difficult.
Manning the faceoff X for the Lizards will be Greg Gurenlian, who owns a .560 career winning percentage and is regarded by Cottle as the MLL's top faceoff specialist.
For a team attempting to become the league's first to capture three straight championships, Mundorf said, Saturday's matchup provides a critical opportunity to seize momentum.
"This is almost a must-win, if you can call an early-season game a must-win," Mundorf said. "It's important. You want to start out in your home stadium on a strong note. It's a big game."