Midfielder Steven Brooks scored the tying and winning goals Saturday night to lead the Chesapeake Bayhawks past the host Denver Outlaws, 18-16, and into a first-place tie with the Boston Cannons in Major League Lacrosse.
"This was a real character win and I'm very proud of our players," Chesapeake coach Dave Cottle said. "Hopefully, a big road win like this will make our team tighter."
Chesapeake (4-1) trailed 15-13 and had been shut out for the entire fourth quarter when Brooks cleared the ball across midfield, stopped just outside the 2-point arc and rifled a shot past Denver goalie Jesse Schwartzman (Johns Hopkins, Pikesville) to tie the score with 5:49 remaining in the game.
"That was a huge swing for us and definitely built momentum for the stretch run," Brooks said of the 2-pointer.
Short-stick defensive midfielder John Orsen then gave Chesapeake the lead when he finished a fast break with a left-handed crank shot from just inside the 2-point arc. It was Orsen's first goal of the season and gave the Bayhawks a 16-15 lead with 2:54 to go.
Denver (3-2) won the ensuing faceoff and coach Jim Stagnitta called timeout to set up a play that worked to perfection with rookie Mark Matthews finding fellow attackman Jordan McBride open on the doorstep for a quick-stick goal that tied the game at 16.
Brooks answered 34 seconds later with the game-winner. The fifth-year professional out of Syracuse dodged down the left alley and stunned Schwartzman with a wraparound shot that gave the visitors a 17-16 lead with 2:20 left.
"I just kind of winged that one. I came down on a low angle and knew I couldn't get it past Jesse with a regular shot because he plays that pipe so tight," Brooks said. "My only option was to go behind the back and I was lucky it went in."
Chesapeake won the ensuing faceoff and attackman Ben Rubeor (Loyola High) took a feed from midfielder Kyle Dixon (Archbishop Spalding) and fired in an insurance goal that sealed the win. Rubeor finished with two goals and extended his scoring streak to 21 games as the Bayhawks improved to 3-0 on the road.
Denver, led by All-Star attackman Brendan Mundorf (UMBC, Mount St. Joseph), built an 8-3 lead after one quarter. Mundorf had a goal and two assists while Matthews, a left-hander out of the University of Denver who was making his pro debut, scored two goals during the onslaught.
The Bayhawks bounced back, outscoring the Outlaws 6-1 to start the second quarter. Dixon unleashed his second 2-pointer and scored another goal while rookies Brent Adams (Fairfield) and Matt Mackrides (Penn State) scored their first career goals during the rally.
Midfielder Michael Kimmel (Johns Hopkins, Loyola High) scored unassisted to complete the comeback and tie the score at nine with just over six minutes elapsed in the second period. Neither team led by more than two goals over the final 21/2 quarters.
"We dug deep and didn't quit. This is the kind of win that really builds character and team camaraderie," Brooks said.
Attackman Drew Westervelt (UMBC, John Carroll) returned to the city where he played for five seasons and contributed a goal and two assists. After allowing eight goals and making just three saves in the first quarter, goalie Kip Turner (Severn) regrouped and finished with 10 stops for the Bayhawks.
"Tonight's win was all about our veteran presence. We fell behind to a very good team on the road and our veteran players just kept fighting," Cottle said. "Kip Turner is an example of a veteran who never gets rattled. He gives up eight goals in the first quarter and doesn't flinch. He battled and made some unbelievable saves."
Adam Rand captured 19 of 34 faceoffs for Chesapeake, which plays its next three games at home beginning Saturday against the expansion Charlotte Hounds. Kimmel finished with a goal and an assist as the Bayhawks had a balanced offense that featured 10 different goal scorers.
Mundorf finished with a game-high eight points on three goals and five assists. Dixon had two 2-point goals en route to a team-best seven points.
Schwartzman was spectacular at times in making 17 saves.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun