With the top seed in the Major League Lacrosse playoffs on the line, the Chesapeake Bayhawks came out firing Saturday night against the Denver Outlaws, scoring on each of their first three shots and building an early five-point lead.
Over the final three quarters, however, it was their inability to stop the Outlaws on defense that ultimately cost the Bayhawks in a 15-13 loss before an announced 10,420 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
After building a 7-2 lead, Chesapeake didn't score for more than 21 minutes. Denver then took the lead for good with three straight goals to open the fourth quarter, securing its first regular-season league title since 2009.
"I thought we played about as well as we could play in the first quarter. In the second quarter, we played about as poorly as we can play," Bayhawks coach Dave Cottle said. "I'm disappointed that we didn't keep playing at the level that I thought we could play."
The Bayhawks (10-4), in search of their fourth MLL title and first since 2010, will have the No. 2 seed in the four-team playoffs, facing Boston Aug. 25 at Harvard Stadium in Boston. Top-seeded Denver (11-3) will face Long Island in the other semifinal.
The championship game is scheduled for the following day. Chesapeake lost in the semifinals a year ago.
The Bayhawks looked sharp early, taking the lead just 30 seconds into the game when attackman Ben Rubeor drove left and flicked in a high shot from 10 yards out. It marked the 29th straight game with at least one point for the University of Virginia product.
Just 90 seconds later, Kyle Dixon's two-point goal from the left side extended the lead, and following a goal by Denver's Brendan Mundorf (UMBC), scores by Drew Westervelt (UMBC) and Dixon extended the lead to 5-1 with 9:05 left in the opening quarter.
Soon, however, several holes in the Bayhawks defense began to take their toll. Playing without starting defenders Michael Evans and Brian Spallina, as well as long-stick defender Dan Hostetler, Chesapeake soon squandered the lead, allowing five straight goals in the second quarter.
"It's not about who doesn't play. It's about who does play," Cottle said. "We made some mistakes, but there's no guarantee that the guys that were starters wouldn't made mistakes, too. That's no excuse."
When attackman Chris Bocklet scored off a feed from Mark Matthews 1:16 before halftime, Denver tied the game at 7.
"We sort of looked ourselves in the eye and just said, `That's not our best lacrosse,'" Mundorf said. "We know this league is a game of runs. You're going to give up runs like that, but we knew we were capable of coming back. It was just a matter of one at a time. We started executing on offense, and our defense locked down."
All told, the Bayhawks went 21:02 without a score until Dixon notched his second two-point goal of the game to put them back ahead with 10:28 left in the third. Dixon finished with four goals, including a pair of two-pointers, and an assist.
Tied at 12, Denver took the lead for good on Jordan McBride's goal 1:06 into the fourth quarter, and Mundorf extended it with a short-handed effort less than three minutes later. Mundorf led the Outlaws with three goals and two assists.
The game was tied five times.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times