By Paul Ryan | 11/6/13 12:00 PM
Another year, another title for the Chesapeake Bayhawks, as the 2013 season gave the team their fifth trophy in the league’s 13th season.
The season started off convincingly for the Bayhawks, as they opened their schedule with a 17-14 victory over Rochester in St. Petersburg, Fla., one of three games played in test markets last season. Then Chesapeake traveled back home for a two-game home stand, where they dominated both New York and Ohio. Their 9-3 win over New York marked the fewest goals ever allowed in an MLL game.
Chesapeake then hit a bit of a rough patch, winning just one game out of their next five. A bit of bad luck may have been involved as the Bayhawks found themselves on the wrong side of one-goal games in three of the four losses.
The Bayhawks soon regained their form, winning all of their remaining games with the exception of a Week 12 setback against Denver. Chesapeake gave the Outlaws their toughest game of the season, keeping it tied going into the fourth quarter, but Denver pulled away, winning the match-up 14-12.
Going into the playoffs as the number two seed, the Bayhawks found themselves in a first-round match-up with the Hamilton Nationals. It looked as if the Bayhawks were headed for an early exit, as the Nationals led 11-8 going into the final period, but Michael Kimmel led the way with two goals in the final frame, powering the Bayhawks to another Championship game.
In the Championship, Chesapeake dominated defensively, keeping the Charlotte Hounds at only two goals in the first 30 minutes, while Championship MVP John Grant Jr. led the offense with four. Despite a two-point goal from Matt Danowski at the final horn, it wasn’t enough for the Hounds. The Steinfeld Trophy was Chesapeake’s once again, as the final score showed Chesapeake 10, Charlotte 9.
On the season, the Bayhawks received extremely balanced scoring from up and down their lineup, with nine players recording more than 20 points. Drew Westervelt led the team with 48 points, good for fifth in the league, while Ben Rubeor finished with 30 goals and 41 points. Grant chipped in 20 goals, while second-year player Matt Mackrides registered 30.
In goal, Kip Turner saw the majority of play, posting an 8-5 record with an impressive .571% save percentage and a 10.35 goals against average, which ranks third all-time for a single-season. His numbers got even better in the playoffs, as his save percentage rose 12 points while he lowered his goals against to 10.
It’s going to be difficult for the Bayhawks to improve on this year, but that’s what we thought after last season. It’s always hard to improve after winning a championship, but as the Bayhawks have proved, the Steinfeld Trophy belongs to them right now. With the offseason acquisition of Brendan Mundorf, the Bayhawks get even stronger on paper. Paper doesn’t always translate to the best product on the field, but Chesapeake is going to be most everyone’s favorite for 2014.