The Chesapeake Bayhawks watched a nine-goal lead dwindle to one in the closing minutes of Saturday night's Major League Lacrosse matchup against Hamilton.
The Bayhawks dominated Hamilton for most of the night, but suddenly had no answer for the Nationals' quick counter-attacks, while the Bayhawks' offense was held scoreless in the fourth quarter. But Chesapeake goalie Kip Turner stopped a shot by Joe Walters in the closing seconds and to help the Bayhawks escape with a 16-15 victory before an announced 9,832 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
The Bayhawks improved to 6-1 at the midway point of the season and remain in first place by one game over Boston, which beat Charlotte on Saturday.
"I thought we played pretty well for three quarters," Bayhawks coach Dave Cottle said. "I feel like we played better than the score indicated. We're in pretty good shape. I don't think we get tired. Our long-pole play has to improve for us to be an elite team."
Danny Glading led Chesapeake with three goals, including a 2-pointer late in the first half. John Grant Jr., Steven Brooks and Drew Westervelt (UMBC) also had two goals for Chesapeake.
Stephen Keogh led Hamilton with four goals. The Bayhawks were outscored 8-0 in the fourth quarter.
In an earlier 20-7 loss to the Bayhawks, Hamilton was missing 2012 All-Stars Keogh and Walters (Maryland), in addition to three other solid contributors. The Nationals were essentially at full-strength Saturday, but still had few answers for the Bayhawks' in the opening three quarters.
A goal by Kyle Dixon increased the Bayhawks' lead to 15-6 midway through the third quarter. Hamilton chipped away at the lead. Keogh's fourth goal, a 2-pointer by Brodie Merrill and another goal by Matt Dolente in a two-minute span cut the margin to 16-13 with 9:38 left in the game. Crowley's second goal pulled Hamilton to within two with 4:48 left.
A goal by Cody Jamieson cut the margin one, but then Turner (10 saves) came up big in the end.
"These Canadians are the hardest guys to play against because they are all great finishers," Turner said. "I'm a little disappointed in my play in the fourth quarter as well as the team's. We just have to play a full 60 minutes."
Chesapeake opened a 5-0 lead on goals by John Grant Jr., Westervelt, Mike Kimmel (Johns Hopkins) and 2-pointer by defenseman Daniel Hostetler (River Hill). After Kevin Crowley and David Earl answered for Hamilton, Matt Mackrides' goal with 3:18 left gave the Bayhawks a 6-2 lead at the end of the opening quarter.
Goals by Glading and Grant two minutes apart increased the lead to 8-2 with 9:11 left in the half. A goal Casey Powell later cut the margin to four, but Glading long-range goal as time expired gave the Bayhawks a 12-5 lead at the half.
"I think we came out as a team and played very unselfishly," Glading said. "It got close at the end, but that's what happens when you play almost a whole quarter a man-down."
Frustration set in for the Nationals midway through the third quarter when Powell slashed Chesapeake's Michael Evans in the back of the helmet after a clear and was given an eight-minute penalty, including seven for unsportsmanlike conduct.
H 2 3 2 8 - 15
C 6 6 4 0 - 16
H- Keogh 4, Crowley 2, Jamieson, Earl, Walters, Powell, Moss, Merrill, Dolente;
B-Glading 3, Grant 2, Westervelt 2, Brooks 2, Kimmel, Hostetler, Mackrides, Dixon
H--Jamieson, Crowley, Billings, Walters
B--Grant, Abbott, Dixon, Glading, Brooks, Polanco
H--Queener 13, Hebrst 5;
B-- Turner 10
Half: B:12-5Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun