“Did that really just happen?” – That is exactly what me and my buddy said the whole way home from the game. Did we really just get to witness an MLL game from the sidelines alongside the Denver Outlaws? Did we really get to shoot around on a field where so many college and major league lacrosse players have played? Yes… yes, we did.
I wanted to end my summer series of lacrosse postswith something interesting that you don’t get to see on LAS all that often: some photo and video coverage from the sidelines of an MLL game, and thanks to Connor, the Bayhawks organization and coach Slate, I was able to do just that.
We left at about 12 noon from a sunny south Jersey, which turned into a cloudy Delaware, which turned into a monsoon-stricken Maryland. If that wasn’t bad enough, we got caught in brutal traffic three times, and all three times it turned to be an accident on the SIDE of the road and people would just slow down to take a look… really guys? We don’t have time for all this rubber-necking, we have an MLL game to go see!
As I was saying before though the rain was making us a bit nervous, not for our safety (we’re smart like that), but that the game would be cancelled. As many other drivers pulled to the side of the road to wait for the storm to pass, we pushed on towards our objective. As we got closer to Annapolis the rain stopped but the clouds remained, but it was still a welcoming and hopeful sign for the day. We wanted to stop in D.C. for a bit before the game but due to all the setbacks we decided to just head straight to the stadium in Naptown.
We got our sideline passes and headed into an already wet Navy-Marine Corps Stadium. We had been there before in the past but still took the chance to walk around the stadium and just take everything in. We noticed a few Bayhawks players were already there, so I shot Smitty (Justin Smith) a text to see if he wanted to meet and catch up and sure enough he was, so we went down to the field to meet him. There he was already shooting around a bit and warming up. Smitty has been an outstanding middie in both the college and pro game, but we found out tonight he would be the back up goalie for the game. We got to see him warm up a bit with the goalie coach which was a treat because we got to see Smitty in an environment we had not really seen him before.
After he took shots from the coach we got to sit down with him a bit and ask him a few questions. (Sorry if you can’t hear us too well in the video at the end, the stadium music and just everyone still trying to set up for the game made for poor audio quality.) Just in case, the questions were:
1) You guys have obviously clinched a spot in the playoffs, does the routine you’ve used throughout the season change? Do you guys kick it into high gear or stick with what has worked for you all season?
2) You’re the man behind the chrome sensation that’s been sweeping lacrosse, recently we saw you’ve added a matte to chrome finish, is there anything else big coming out?
3) What’s your confidence going into the playoffs, do you think this team has a shot at winning it all?
4) Championship weekend is once again in annapolis, does that play as a home field advantage? How does that play into the whole playoff process?
I was also supposed to do one or two more interviews but they fell through. It was a hectic night after the game so I can’t really blame those guys at all. Once we parted ways with Smitty, we got to see something that I thought was really cool and great for this sport. The Bayhawks were holding a pre-game lax camp for local youth laxers. There were different stations set up around the field and the kids would rotate every couple of minutes. One of the mothers actually sat down next to me and my friend on the sideline benches so she could see her son at the station that was closest to us.
Turns out the cost of the clinic was only $30 and the kids got a shirt with that as well. It was great to see that the Bayhawks were giving back to the community by helping these lacrosse players better themselves but also doing so at a very affordable price. Also they’re doing this before a game? Incredible stuff, very proud to see stuff like this. Her son eventually came over for a waterbreak, we all chatted a bit and as I was trying to help him get his helmet back on, the sky opened up and everyone ran for cover.
This can’t be happening! Not again! But luckily for us though it quickly stopped and Justin and I headed back down to the field. The clinic did not continue so we decided to go take some shots on cage ourselves. It was just a surreal feeling to look around at the stadium, standing where so many far superior athletes have competed and where more would be competing that very night. After every shot (whether it’d hit cage or not) there would be a smile on our faces. I remember one time I hit pipe and it soared up and to the right and into the stands and jokingly I said, “there’s a souvenir for one lucky fan”. I was just enjoying a laxer’s dream, and loving every minute of it.
Then some of the Outlaws came out and joined us for shooting but after a few minutes we decided to back out so they could fully warm up and get the most shots possible. After all, they were there for business! We headed back to the car to get into some more “professional” attire and then headed back into the stadium to catch both teams warming up.
Smitty saw us standing on the sidelines taking some pictures during warm ups so he came over and goes “here get a shot of this” and holds out his sick two toned chrome head with a gorgeous wood shaft.
After Smitty went back to warm ups we talked to FoGo Alex Smith of the Bayhawks for awhile. After I told him my naive friend thought MLL players made 30K a year (funny joke right?) I asked what his other profession was. He told me he owned a couple of restaurants in the Baltimore area. Pretty incredible. That’s another thing I like about lacrosse players, many are not only world class athletes but are also very successful in their chosen career fields. Once again we thanked him for talking with us and wished him luck for the game.
After awhile both teams headed to the locker rooms and we got to witness some of Maryland’s youth lax. We got to see Thunder Lacrosse vs. Annapolis Skyhawks. Thunder Lacrosse dominated the game but I’m sure it’s a memory none of these kids will ever forget.
Finally after numerous unnecessary amounts of traffic and dealing with numerous rain storms the game was finally about to start. I was like a little kid on Christmas morn. To make things even better, the Bayhawks dancers were dancing next to us. Prime position for a good game.
Right from the get go the Outlaws dominated the game. Also one of the refs was making very questionable calls against the Outlaws and due to some talking back by the Outlaws coaches just led to more penalties but despite it all the Outlaws held off the onslaught and set the tempo for the game. It was great to be able to take in the game as a reporter AND a fan, and the experience was one I will treasure for years.
All game long the Outlaws kept racking up the score and despite a late run by the Bayhawks, the Outlaws walked away with the win and the 2nd place seed for playoffs.
The game ended with hand shakes followed by an autograph session for the fans and topped off with fireworks. Being an Outlaws fan it was an incredible game and despite the score I’m sure it was a fun game for Bayhawks’ fans too. Now we’ll have to see how the playoffs unfold. Will the Outlaws continue to dominate throughout the playoffs, or will the Bayhawks turn things around and make a repeat performance of last season? Or will the Cannons or Nationals be crowned the new champions of the MLL? Only time will tell. Check out all the action this weekend coming up to see who will be the new MLL champion.
For an in-depth look at the MLL playoffs, check out Connor Wilson’s MLL Playoff Preview!
For a full recap of the game click here and to watch last nights game click here. You can actually see us a few times on the sideline. (First time the bayhawks have the ball by the outlaws bench you can see me filming one of the clips in the hightlight video.)