The Chesapeake Bayhawks had everything set for a case of déjà vu as they began defense of their Major League Lacrosse title in Saturday's semifinal rematch against the Boston Cannons in rain-soaked Annapolis.
Boston attackman Max Quinzani had a different outcome in mind.
Quinzani's goal with 1.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter Saturday put an abrupt end to the Bayhawks' season, as the Cannons advanced to Sunday's championship game with a thrilling 14-13 win in front of a sparse crowd at Navy-Marine CorpsMemorial Stadium.
For a second straight year, the Bayhawks (6-7) came into the postseason as the fourth seed with the Cannons (10-3) entering with the league's best regular-season record.
But this year the Bayhawks' upset bid fell one goal short.
After rallying from a 13-9 deficit in the closing minutes to tie the game on Ben Hunt's goal with 37 seconds left, the Bayhawks didn't have things go their way in the remaining time.
Boston goalie Jordan Burke (14 saves) turned away a shot by Bayhawks defenseman Kyle Hartzell with 20 seconds left, then Quinzani (three goals, one assist) took a feed from Ryan Boyle and quickly turned and fired an underhanded shot from the slot for the deciding goal.
Boston, the only original active franchise in the league not to win a championship, will get its chance when it meets Hamilton — an 11-9 winner over Denver in Saturday's other semifinal — at 3 p.m. in Annapolis.
"I thought we played really well," Chesapeake coach Brendan Kelly said. "We had our chance to win at the end, but Jordan Burke made a great save, and then they brought it the other way and we lose the game on [Quinzani's] shot. It was a helluva game and fun to be part of."
Much like last year's 13-9 semifinal win, the Bayhawks came out strong in the first half, opening up a 6-1 lead with Brian Carroll's two goals leading the early surge.
But the Cannons made the most of the final five minutes of the half, scoring four unanswered goals to cut the deficit to 6-5 at the break.
When the Cannons carried the momentum through to the fourth quarter, building a 13-9 advantage on Mike Stone's goal with 5:06 to play, it appeared evident it would be their turn.
But the Bayhawks had one last rally, getting a goal from midfielder Steven Brooks, a two-point blast from Kyle Dixon (three goals) and then Hunt's goal to tie.
"I just think it's a game of runs," Kelly said. "We had our run early, they had their run in the middle of the game, and then we made another run in the end to tie the game. [In the] last 27 seconds, we win the faceoff and there's not another guy I would want with the ball in his stick than Kyle Hartzell streaking to the goal. He gives a nice fake, gets down low and Jordan Burke makes a helluva save. They deserved to win."
Major League Lacrosse semifinals
(at Navy-Marine CorpsMemorial Stadium)
Boston Cannons 14, Chesapeake Bayhawks 13
Goals: Bayhawks – Dixon 3, Carroll 2, Abbott, Glading, Hunt, Reynolds, Hardy, Brooks, Kimmel; Boston – Quinzani 3, Farrell 2, Ricci, Heim, Poskay, Downing, Ross, Rabil, Boyle, Buchanan, Stone.
Assists: Bayhawks – Hunt 2, Abott, Smith, Glading; Boston – Morrissey 2, Boyle, Quinzani, Rabil.
Saves: Bayhawks – Garrity 14; Boston -- Burke 14.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun