Byrne totals seven points as Bayhawks beat Machine for fourth straight win

Second-year attackman Josh Byrne had a huge night with seven points while goalkeeper Niko Amato and faceoff specialist Stephen Kelly also played key roles as the Chesapeake Bayhawks battled from behind to beat the Ohio Machine, 15-12, at Fortress Obetz on Saturday night.

Byrne, the reigning Major League Lacrosse Rookie of the Year, was the catalyst of an impressive second half performance and finished with four goals and three assists. The former Hostra standout was named the Coca-Cola Player of the Game.

“Josh Byrne really stepped up and played very well tonight,” Chesapeake head coach Dave Cottle said. “We didn’t feel Josh had been playing as well as he’s capable and was sitting on a big game. He definitely delivered in this one.”

Kelly captured 8 of 14 faceoffs in the second half to repeatedly give Chesapeake possession and help the visitors outscore Ohio 9-5 following intermission.

“Stephen got hot and gave our team a chance to get on a run. There was a point there in the second half when we were playing make-it, take-it,” said Cottle, who was particularly pleased the Bayhawks beat the Machine 5-2 in the fourth quarter.

Amato made 12 of his 19 saves in the second and third quarters for the Bayhawks, who dominated following a two-hour and 45-minute rain delay between the first and second halves.

“Niko stood tall in the net and came up with some really, really big stops,” Cottle said.

Rookie midfielder Ian MacKay netted four goals for Chesapeake, which has won four straight contests and improved its record 5-2. MacKay, a second-round draft pick out of Vermont, showed superb versatility in scoring in a variety of ways.

“Ian MacKay is a talented player. He’s a great shooter and a natural scorer,” Cottle said. “Ian has been a very nice addition to this team.”

Midfielder Ryan Tucker scored two goals, including an important 2-pointer that began an 8-1 run that put Chesapeake in complete control. Veteran attackman Matt Danowski added a goal and two assists for the Bayhawks, who hold sole possession of second place in Major League Lacrosse.

Myles Jones contributed a goal and assist for Chesapeake, which now returns home to play four consecutive contests at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.

“We have four wins on the road, which is one more than we got all of last season,” Cottle said. “We have a nice stretch of home games coming up and we need to capitalize. This next game against Atlanta is a big one for the Bayhawks.”

Rookie attackman Justin Guterding (Duke) totaled three goals and two assists while second-year midfielder Jake Bernhardt (Maryland) added three goals and an assist for Ohio (2-5), the defending MLL champion which has now lost four in a row.

Guterding and Bernhardt scored goals one minute apart to give Ohio a 7-6 lead with 10:34 remaining in the second quarter and it stayed that way until halftime. Officials eliminated several television timeouts in order to finish the first half before the severe thunderstorm hit the area and caused the lengthy weather delay.

“We went into halftime only behind by one and we really had not played good lacrosse in any facet of the game,” Cottle said. “We hit the reset button and just flushed that first half. I thought we were much more focused and sharper in all areas during the second half.”

Play finally resumed at 9:45 on a soggy field with a smattering of fans returning to the stands to watch the remainder of the contest. Ohio scored two goals to start the second half and increase its lead to 9-6, but Chesapeake responded immediately with a 2-pointer by Tucker.

Tucker charged into the offensive end with a head of steam, took a lob pass from Byrne and unleashed an absolute cannon blast of a crank shot that Bernlohr never saw as the Bayhawks got within 9-8 at the 8:37 mark.

“That 2-pointer by Ryan Tucker was huge and really gave us some life,” Cottle said.

Guterding scored again to make it 10-8, but Byrne answered with an unassisted tally after using a pick to lose his defender and wrapping around the cage from behind for a backhanded flip to reduce the deficit to one once again.

Chesapeake proceeded to tie the score for a third time off another power-play opportunity. MacKay made a well-timed cut into the heart of the defense and Byrne put a pass right perfectly on target for a quick-stick shot that knotted things at 10-10 with 3:10 left in the third period.

An apparent goal-ahead goal off a sizzling crank shot by Heacock early in the fourth frame was nullified by a crease violation and the score remained tied. However, MacKay did put the Bayhawks back ahead moments later, using a nifty toe drag to beat his defender from behind for an unassisted tally that made it 11-10 with 14 minutes remaining.

Byrne gave the Bayhawks some breathing room circling through the middle, taking a sidearm feed from Jones and bouncing a shot past Bernlohr to up the advantage to 12-10 with 12:27 to go.

MacKay increased the lead to three with an underhanded crank shot off a lightning-quick release with 10:49 left on the clock. Jones continued the decisive onslaught with his first goal of the game – sticking a crank shot as the Bayhawks built a 14-10 cushion at 9:57.

Byrne then capped his brilliant night by once again finding open space inside, taking a pass from Danowski and delivering the dagger that determined the final margin with 2:15 left.

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