Major League Lacrosse is set to descend on Annapolis, Maryland on July 18 to kick off their 20th season in a tournament format. Pro Lacrosse Talk is covering every team and how they’ll measure up in Maryland.
First up, we have the defending champion Chesapeake Bayhawks. The Bayhawks will be led by new head coach Tom Mariano, who took over for Dave Cottle in the offseason, after Cottle stepped down from the role.
Superstars, lots of them.
The Chesapeake Bayhawks may have the best collection of talent in MLL. Between defending MVP Lyle Thompson and Colin Heacock or having to face Isaiah Davis-Allen and CJ Costabile, the Bayhawks have stars at just about every position.
While Heacock and Thompson headline the Bayhawks’ attack group, Andrew Kew is looking to impress in his second season. Kew turned heads in his rookie season, collecting 21 goals in 13 games.
With the MLL’s tournament format, having midfielders that can run up and down while playing defense is huge. The Bayhawks have that in defensive midfield tandem CJ Costabile and Isaiah Davis-Allen. Davis-Allen and Costabile make one of the best SSDM/LSM tandems in the league.
The Bayhawks will be missing two key players in Steele Stanwick and Matt Abbott for the tournament. Abbott, an 11-year veteran, and Stanwick, 2019 MLL Championship weekend MVP, are two of the bigger names on the Bayhawks and it will be nearly impossible to find two players that will step in for them. They also lost defensive leader Jesse Bernhardt to the PLL this offseason and will need some of their new defensive pieces to step up in his absence.
That being said, if any team has the depth to fill such massive holes, its the Bayhawks.
Most Intriguing Matchup
Bayhawks vs. Outlaws, July 22
A rematch of last years championship game. The Outlaws and Bayhawks both have plenty of new faces. but their championship cores are still mostly intact. And you can bet that the Denver Outlaws are hungry for revenge with the way that the championship ended.
Players to Watch
The Bayhawks are very excited to be adding Yale grad Weitzel to the defense this year. The first round pick figures to play a significant role for the Bayhawks from the start and will help bolster the defense in front of Brian Phipps.
Kew has big shoes to fill with Steele Stanwick absent. That being said, the sophomore attackman looked up to the challenge last season, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime of the 2019 MLL championship. He is sure to draw some favorable matchups with Lyle Thompson being covered by opposing team’s top defender (or two). Kew’s development and his ability to fill in for Stanwick will be one of the major storylines for the Bayhawks during the tournament.
Do you think the Bayhawks can repeat as MLL Champions? Let us know in the comments or on social media using the #ProLacrosseTalk.