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Bayhawks face Nationals in MLL Championship Weekend

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Photo by Daniel Kucin Jr. Chesapeake Bayhawks middie Ben Hunt tallied three goals against Hamilton in their first meeting of the season.

Photo by Daniel Kucin Jr. Chesapeake Bayhawks middie Ben Hunt tallied three goals against Hamilton in their first meeting of the season.

Published on: Wednesday, August 21, 2013

By Daniel Kucin Jr.

The Chesapeake Bayhawks will enter Championship Weekend on Saturday as a second seed against the Hamilton Nationals at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.

Ben Rubeor helped lead his team to victory against the Charlotte Hounds in their regular season finale on Aug. 10. Rubeor was named “Player of the Game” for scoring two goals and dishing out four assists.

The Hamilton Nationals slipped by the Bayhawks 12-11 in their first meeting during the fourth week of the regular season. The early season test did not bode well for Chesapeake, despite fighting through a game that went through 11 ties. Hamilton’s Joe Walters fired a 10-yard shot past Bayhawks goalie Kip Turner to secure the Nationals’ fourth-straight victory.

“Hamilton is very impressive on film,” Chesapeake Bayhawks Head Coach Dave Cottle said. “They have middies that run from defense to offense very well, which presents a challenge that we won’t see from other teams in the league. Our offensive middies are going to get trapped on the field and will have to play defense.”

When the two teams met again this season, the Bayhawks responded by defeating the Nationals 17-10. Midfielder Ben Hunt scored three goals, including a two-point goal. Steven Brooks and Drew Westervelt also scored three goals.

Both teams are evenly matched, but there is no telling who will come away with the victory this weekend. “I thought the difference between that game and our first meeting with Hamilton had to do with picking the ball up on the defensive end,” Cottle said. “Last time, we got stops, but could not clear the ball out of our zone, which gave them second chances.”

Hamilton’s Kevin Crowley will be a player to watch. He helps drive the Nationals offense, and it will be a tough challenge to contain him. Crowley is the second best scorer in the league with 38 goals, 14 assists and 55 total points.

Chesapeake will have to lean on its Turner for a victory. Turner is second in the league at goalkeeper with 178 saves for a .571 save percentage.

 “Chesapeake is an experienced team, a confident team,” Hamilton Head Coach Dave Huntley said. “They have a lot of talented midfielders that are proven outside shooters and a group of attackmen that can score in a variety of ways. Chesapeake also has a very aggressive and physical defense anchored by a capable goalkeeper.”

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