In the days leading into the Chesapeake Bayhawks matchup with the Florida Launch on Saturday, attackman Drew Westervelt said there was chatter amongst his teammates that they needed to put forth a better effort if they wanted to avoid falling to 1-3 on the season.
That effort never came.
Led by former Bayhawks attackman Casey Powell, who had one goal and six assists in his return to Annapolis after being traded to Florida last offseason, Florida cruised past the two-time defending Major League Lacrosse champions 15-12 in front of 6,178 fans at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, sending the Bayhawks to their third loss in four games and their worst start since 2009.
Powell, who was last week's MLL Player of the Week, notched his 428th career point during the game, which puts him ahead of Boston Cannon's attackman Ryan Boyle for the MLL's all-time points scored mark.
"Casey doesn't play defense," Bayhawks coach Dave Cottle said. " We gave up 15. It's not about who you don't have. We have enough players. I love Casey, but he's not the reason we're not winning."
The Bayhawks were also demolished in the ground ball war, 37-29 and lost the faceoff battle for the third consecutive game this season. Steven Brooks led the Bayhawks with four points on three goals. Peet Pollion, Brendan Mundorf and Ben Rubeor each added two goals for Chesapeake.
Of the Bayhawks 12 goals, only three were assisted. Westervelt said the team's lack of assisted goals speaks volumes about the lack of chemistry on offense.
"That's a key stat for us to look at," said Westervelt, who had two assists. "Sometimes, the ball has to move one more time. We need to keep it simple and do our jobs as a dodger, keep the ball hot and we'll start to get easy looks on the backside."
The Bayhawks struck first with an unassisted goal from midfielder Steven Brooks that squeaked through the legs of Launch goalie Brett Queener. Florida responded six minutes later when Jordan Hall hit a cutting Garrett Thul to tie the game. Launch faceoff specialist Chris Mattes won the ensuing faceoff, setting up rookie Kieran McArdle for an unassisted goal to make the score 2-1.
Less than two minutes later, Mundorf finished right-handed off a roll dodge to tie the game. McArdle added his second goal of the game on Florida's first possession of the second quarter, giving the Launch a lead it never relinquished. After both teams traded possessions, Powell hit last year's Offensive Player of the Year in midfielder Kevin Crowley, who finished into the top-right corner to give Florida a 4-2 advantage.
With Florida starting to pull away, Brooks got the Bayhawks back into the game with nine minutes to play before half when he scored unassisted to make it a one-goal game.
But then the wheels came off for Chesapeake. Over the next 16 minutes, the Launch sprinted out on a 9-1 run to make the score 13-4 with less than five minutes to play in the third quarter.
"They play different than anybody else in the league," Cottle said. "They have two really good feeders in [Powell] and [Crowley]. They set screens and picks and moved around. When you're playing losing lacrosse, when you make a mistake, it haunts you."
The Bayhawks responded with a run of their own, scoring two quick goals to end the third quarter and four unanswered goals to begin the fourth quarter, cutting the Launch's advantage to 13-10. A two-point goal from Brooks made the score 14-12 with 1:37 to play, but Crowley hit teammate Mario Ventiquattro on Florida's next possession for a one-on-one goal that iced the game with under a minute to play.
Chesapeake has a week off before attempting to rebound against the Ohio Machine on May 31 at home.
"We are who our record says we are," Cottle said.