ANNAPOLIS – The Chesapeake Bayhawks season came to an end in the first round of the playoffs on Aug. 11 after the Denver Outlaws defeated them on a late goal 13-12. Chesapeake came into the match ranked as the No. 2 seed in Major League Lacrosse (MLL) for the playoffs, and it was their first […]
ANNAPOLIS – The Chesapeake Bayhawks season came to an end in the first round of the playoffs on Aug. 11 after the Denver Outlaws defeated them on a late goal 13-12.
Chesapeake came into the match ranked as the No. 2 seed in Major League Lacrosse (MLL) for the playoffs, and it was their first appearance since 2013. Denver simply made one more play than Chesapeake in a tremendous contest that went down to the wire.
“We played our tails off. We hustled, and our guys cared so much. It was two even teams, and they made one more play than we did,” Bayhawks Head Coach Dave Cottle said after the game.
The Bayhawks and Outlaws were deadlocked at 2-2 during the first quarter after some stellar defensive play which took away many quality scoring opportunities from both sides.
However, the Outlaws took a 4-2 lead in the second quarter before Bayhawks breakout star Myles Jones scored to stop the bleeding, and then attackman Lyle Thompson tied it up midway through the quarter.
Former Duke Blue Devil Matt Danowski provided Chesapeake the lead briefly as the Outlaws would not be denied in their response and took a 6-5 lead into the half.
“I thought they did a great job of keeping the ball from us in the second quarter and they won a lot of faceoffs, and we didn’t win a lot of faceoffs, and they did a good job of that,” Cottle said. “I thought we kept fighting and I am really proud of our guys they never quit and are made out of the right stuff.”
The Bayhawks struggled all night on faceoffs, and it ended up being a significant factor in the second half as Stephen Kelly missed the game with a leg injury. Kelly’s absence was magnified severely as the Bayhawks were an abysmal 8-29 on faceoffs.
“We were put in a tough spot when we lost our guy. He is one of our best players on our team, and he fights for us so hard, so we just had to step up and try to fill-in in other ways,” Jones said.
Denver extended their lead to three after Zach Currier added the final two of his four goals to the Outlaws’ advantage making it 8-5 with a nice scoop and score put back after a Niko Amato save and then Currier fired a laser home shortly after.
The Bayhawks got right back into the game after a 15-minute scoring drought as Thompson rejuvenated the resilient Bayhawks by scoring two of his three goals and fellow attackman Josh Byrne answered the call as well to tie the game at 8-8 with 2:18 remaining in the third quarter.
With 1:23 left in the third frame, Kylor Bellistri gave the Outlaws the lead again heading into the final quarter.
At the start of the fourth period, Eric Law scored a beautiful behind the back goal to give the Outlaws a one-point lead (10-9). Jones tied the game at 10-10 and got the Bayhawks fired up with his energy which allowed Thompson to provide the Bayhawks with the lead with 10 minutes to play.
“We have really good chemistry, and this is one of the best teams I’ve been on. Guys like me, Heacock, Josh Byrne, Nick Manis, Lyle Thompson and all those young guys give us a really good nucleus that can definitely stick together for a few years to come,” Jones said.
Special teams hurt the Bayhawks as Denver went 3-for-3 with the extra man including a devastating goal after Byrne took a reckless penalty that allowed Denver to tie the game at 11 with eight minutes to go and then Denver took the lead 12-11 after another Bellistri goal.
That late two-goal swing zapped the momentum from the Bayhawks until Heacock tied the game back up at 12-12 with six minutes remaining.
As the game started to wind down, Matt Kavanagh gave the Outlaws the lead 13-12 with 3:53 remaining after the Bayhawks seemed to have lost the location of the ball during a line change leading to an easy score and the game-deciding goal.
“We had a ton of opportunities we just couldn’t finish them at the end, and that is definitely a tough one to swallow, but we’ll be back next year,” Byrne said.
After a timeout with less than five seconds remaining, the Bayhawks drew up one final play. Thompson threw the ball away and with it the Bayhawks season.
“Great game back and forth both ways,” Matt Abbott said. “At the end of the day they just made one more play than us, but we have a lot to be proud of this year and getting back to the playoffs, but we all know we fell short of our ultimate goal, so we have a bit of fuel for next year.”