ANNAPOLIS – The Chesapeake Bayhawks returned from the All-Star break on Aug. 3, looking to get back into the win column in a weekend series of games against rivals New York Lizards.
Colin Heacock made sure of it as the versatile star scored a career-high six goals in an 11-9 victory in the home leg and then drove in four more goals on the following day to complete the sweep of New York with a 24-7 road win on Aug. 4.
With the back-to-back victories over New York, the Bayhawks (6-3) now found themselves in a three-way tie for first place in the Major League Lacrosse (MLL) standings.
“Everyone was playing unselfish and willing to dodge in and draw an extra defender or double team,” said Heacock. “I was just fortunate enough that they got it to me. It was a hard-fought, tough game. Gonna enjoy it for the moment, improve on some little things and get ready for the next game in a couple of hours.”
Heacock opened the scoring just 36 seconds in for Chesapeake but it was quickly answered by New York when Rob Pannell converted an unassisted goal. Heacock responded 32 seconds later with an unassisted goal of his own to provide the home team momentum.
Chesapeake scored five straight goals with four different goalscorers to end the first quarter. With less than nine minutes remaining, attackman John Wagner scored a one-handed, underhand trick shot goal to give the Bayhawks an early 3-1 lead. Heacock continued his stellar performance, completing his hat-trick early as the Bayhawks lead grew to 6-1.
“Playing with Lyle Thompson and Steele Stanwick makes it easy,” Heacock said. “They’re just so good and it helps a lot. I had the easier part of the job tonight.”
“Last time we played, they put two poles up top and played a shorty down low and we didn’t take advantage of it.” Bayhawks Head Coach Dave Cottle said. “We put Colin (Heacock) down low on attack with Stanwick because he is such a smart player who is always working to get him open and it really made a difference.”
The Lizards cut the lead to 6-2 late into the second quarter after a nearly 20-minute scoring drought as the Bayhawks took a 6-3 lead into halftime.
New York tried to regroup after the break but the Bayhawks stayed steady with their pace and two more goals by Heacock to take an 8-6 lead into the fourth quarter. Several saves in the third quarter from goalie Niko Amato allowed Chesapeake to keep their advantage. Amato finished the game with nine saves.
“It started with (Kenny) Massa in the faceoff X; he was excellent,” Heacock said about his teammates. “Then Niko Amato in net gave our guys so many extra chances on the offensive side which makes our job a lot easier.”
The final quarter saw the Bayhawks maintain control, leaving a hole too deep for the Lizards to climb out of, even after Amato surrendered his first two-point goal of the season to Pannell with five minutes remaining. After a final push from New York, the Bayhawks extended their lead on Heacock’s sixth goal of the contest to solidify their victory.
“We knew he had a chance to have a day from what we saw the last game (against New York on July 20),” Cottle said. “We just didn’t do a very good job of executing in that one like we did tonight.”
On Aug. 4, the Bayhawks traveled to New York for the rematch. Chesapeake dominated the affair, earning a 24-7 result to sweep the weekend series of games.
Heacock was back in the midfield for this game, adding four more goals. Veteran goalie Brian Phipps was in net for the first time this season, completing 12 saves.
Overall, the Bayhawks outplayed, outhustled and outworked their rivals all afternoon, only surrendering three goals over the final three quarters.
“This was an interesting challenge and our guys proved up to it,” Cottle said. “I thought we had a lot of gas in the tank tonight (Sunday), which is very impressive considering we had a long bus ride after playing last night.”
The Bayhawks return to Annapolis on Aug. 10 to take on the Denver Outlaws at 8 p.m. The team will be hosting a Native American Celebration Night as well.