DENVER – Veteran attackman Steele Stanwick scored five goals and assisted another to lead the Chesapeake Bayhawks to a wild 24-22 win in a back-and-forth shootout with the Denver Outlaws on Sunday evening at Sports Authority Field.
Attackman Josh Byrne scored four goals and dished off two assists in his season debut for the Bayhawks, who evened their record at 2-2. Midfielder Myles Jones totaled three goals and two assists for Chesapeake, which outscored the host team 11-2 spanning the end of the third period and start of the fourth to seize control.
“This is a great win for the Bayhawks against a very talented Outlaws team,” Chesapeake head coach Dave Cottle said. “I give a lot of credit to our players for continue to battling because it wasn’t pretty. Offensively, we got better and better as the game went along and we were able to match goals with a team that is very, very potent offensively.”
Long stick midfielder C.J. Costabile scored two goals with one of them being a 2-pointer. Jones, midfielder Ryan Tucker and long stick midfielder Matt Rees also scored from beyond the arc as the Bayhawks set a franchise record with four 2-point goals in a game. All of the 2-pointers came off fastbreak opportunities or unsettled situations.
“We thought we could run on this team so we set some things up to take advantage whenever we got numbers,” Cottle said. “Obviously, all those 2-pointers were huge. Those were worth eight goals and clearly that was the difference.”
Rookie specialist Stephen Kelly captured 26 faceoffs for the Bayhawks, who were playing the third of four straight games on the road. Kelly was credited with 14 ground balls by the official stats and his ability to win draws outright produced numerous transition opportunities.
“Denver’s faceoff man runs right off the field so we thought if we could win the battle there we could get some six-on-five opportunities, which we did,” Cottle said.
Goalkeeper Niko Amato made nine saves with the last being the biggest. Amato stuffed attackman Kylor Bellistri on a 2-point attempt as time expired.
“Niko is always calm, cool and collected back there and he really rose to the occasion, that’s for sure,” Costabile told Lax Sports Network following the game.
Midfielder John Maloney also had a big game with a goal and three assists for the Bayhawks, who close out the extended road trip next Saturday at Boston before coming back to Annapolis to play five of the next six games at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
“You get handed a schedule that has four straight road games after one home game and you have to make the best of it,” Cottle said. “We are 2-1 on the road so far and now Boston becomes a really big game for us.”
Byrne, the 2017 Major League Lacrosse Rookie of the Year, was seeing his first action of the season for Chesapeake and made an immediate impact. Byrne scored off some tremendous shots and drew a lot of defensive attention, opening space for teammates.
Byrne had been unavailable because he was playing with the Buffalo Bandits of the National Lacrosse League. Chesapeake will get another key offensive player when Lyle Thompson’s obligations with the Georgia Swarm concluded.
“One of the tough things about this league is winning games early when you don’t have all your guys,” Cottle told LSN in his post-game interview. “Josh gave us a big boost by coming back today and hopefully we’ll get Lyle Thompson back next weekend.”
Denver scored five straight goals to take a 15-12 lead, but that is when Chesapeake completely took over. Byrne began the comeback with an overhand crank shot with 6:26 to go in the third while Jones scored his 2-pointer a minute and a half later, blasting a rocket of an overhand crank shot to tie the score at 15.
Remarkably, Chesapeake embarked on a 5-0 run in the final 1:35 of the third period to stun Denver and take a 21-16 lead. Tucker fired in a 2-pointer that was easily in excess of 100 MPH and came from three steps outside the arc to highlight the run.
Byrne scored off an overhand crank shot at the 1:03 mark then netted a power-play goal by dropping down sidearm and shooting from an impossible angle. Jones then found Maloney open on the wing for a crank shot as the horn sounded.
Chesapeake outscored Denver 9-1 over the final 6 ½ minutes of the third quarter to silence the home crowd and put the visitors in control.
“It seemed like that third quarter lasted two hours,” Costabile joked afterward. “Our offense really stepped up tonight and answered every run by Denver with one of its own.”
Maloney made a great look to Stanwick on the doorstep for a one-on-one shot to increase the Chesapeake lead to 22-17 with 10:03 remaining in the game. Jones then used a sweet swim move to beat Simon and fired a lefty sidearm shot on the run to make it 23-17 with 6:51 to go.
Denver rallied with a 5-0 run to cut the deficit to one with 1:55 left, but could not come up with the equalizer. Kelly made a big save with 1:10 remaining, but Chesapeake collected the rebound and was able to salt away most of the remaining time before Stanwick scored the clinching goal with 16 seconds on the clock.
Byrne appeared content to run out the remaining time when he flipped a one-handed pass to Stanwick, who was wide-open on the crease and beat Kelly one-on-one to end the suspense.