John Grant Jr. controlled the ball about 30 feet from the Denver Outlaws goal during a vital possession for the Bayhawks on Saturday night. Chesapeake, trailing 9-5 midway through the third period, had a two-man advantage and a golden opportunity to generate some much-needed momentum.
But as Grant penetrated into the teeth of Denver's defense, two Outlaws collided into the attackman, causing the ball to pop out of his stick. Denver defender Matt Bocklet emerged out of an ensuing scrum with the ball and the Bayhawks' extra-man opportunity evaporated two seconds later.
Those types of missed chances plagued Chesapeake (4-3) in a 13-9 loss to the Outlaws (7-0) in front of an announced 8,539 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Kip Turner made a season-high 19 saves and the Bayhawks held Denver's top-ranked offense to 13 points, which ties the Outlaws' season low. But Chesapeake shot 19.1 percent on the night and lost the ground battle, 34-16, en route to its third loss in four games.
"That was not a bad defensive effort, but we could have played better offensively," Bayhawks coach Dave Cottle said after his team also matched its season-low point total. "We have to move the ball better, play better and make some shots."
Eric Law, a former Salisbury attackman, scored a game-high five goals in his second career Major League Lacrosse game to lead Denver.
"My team has been doing a great job of finding me," Law said. "So far it's been falling."
Law got off to a quick start, scoring less than five minutes into the game. But after that, Turner kept the Outlaws relatively quite in the first quarter.
Denver took eight shots in the quarter — twice as many as the Bayhawks — and several from in close, but the Outlaws only beat Turner twice.
Eventually, though, Denver started to cash in on its quality looks at the net. Ben Murdorf (UMBC) and Law spearheaded a face-paced Outlaws attack that scored four goals in the final 8:40 of the first half.
"Denver does a lot of things well, and they exposed some things we do," Turner said. "Not so much in the 6-on-6 game, but more in the transition game."
On the other side of the field, Chesapeake's offense missed out on several scoring chances in the second period.
Michael Kimmel (Johns Hopkins) had a goal overturned after officials ruled that he stepped inside the crease. Minutes later, Grant whipped a shot behind his head from just outside the crease that flew right into the chest padding of Denver goalie Jesse Schwartzman (Hopkins).
At halftime, the Bayhawks trailed 6-3, despite Turner's 12 saves.
"I think we could have moved the ball better early on," attackman Ben Rubeor said. "And we have to bury the opportunities we get."
Chesapeake finally strung together three straight goals in the third period and cut Denver's lead to two entering the final quarter. But the Outlaws responded with the first two goals in the fourth, including one from Law, to stunt the Bayhawks' run.
Chesapeake never got within less than two goals of the lead in the second half.
The Bayhawks' earlier miscues, from stepping in the crease to turning the ball over on extra-man opportunities, seemed more significant as time dwindled on their late comeback attempt.
Cottle said those missed opportunities, coupled with Schwartzman's effort in the net, proved to be the difference.
"I thought we had some really good looks, we just didn't make them." Cottle said. "[Schwartzman] made a great save on Kimmel, we had a goal called back."
The Bayhawks have lost three out of four games. Moving forward, Cottle said, they just have to capitalize on their chances.
"We lost two [games] by one goal and we lost to an undefeated team," Cottle said. "We just got to correct some mistakes."