xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Denver claims revenge on Chesapeake as Bayhawks suffer first loss of MLL tournament, 13-12, in OT

Ryan Lee’s name will be branded in the Chesapeake Bayhawks players’ brains through the rest of the week. With every goal the Denver Outlaws attack struck, the home team’s shot at the No. 1 overall seed in the Major League Lacrosse tournament melted with it.

And so will Brian Kormondy’s. With less than seven minutes to go in overtime, the Denver midfielder slipped past Chesapeake goalkeeper Brian Phipps’ stalwart defenses to score the winning goal.

Advertisement

The Outlaws bettered their chances of clinching the top seed and booking a spot in Saturday’s 1 p.m. semifinal game — and prevented Chesapeake from doing the same — by defeating the Bayhawks, 13-12, in overtime.

“It feels great. They’re obviously a really good team, and we’re only halfway through the journey,” Kormondy said. “We’re probably going to see those guys again. It’s not over for us. We’ll take this win and enjoy it, and we’ll focus on the next one and keep taking it one day at a time.”

Advertisement

The Boston Cannons (2-1) must lose their tilt against the Connecticut Hammerheads on Thursday for Denver to outright clinch.

Lee, just in his second year as a professional player, helped bring down the mighty Bayhawks’ undefeated streak with five goals. Chesapeake’s Lyle Thompson, who carries 17 points in the tournament, scored three.

The game also served as revenge for the Outlaws (4-0), who’d fallen last October in the MLL championship game at the feet of Chesapeake (3-1).

Given that familiarity, Bayhawks coach Tom Mariano had known beating Denver would be no lock, especially as the Outlaws coveted the No. 1 seed as badly as Chesapeake did.

“You learn from your mistakes, and you move on. The nice thing is [we’re] already in the playoffs, so we’re not stressing over that,” Mariano said. “When these two teams play, it’s not about that. It’s a pretty big rivalry and pretty competitive. Athletes want to compete.”

There would be no heavy downpour of goals by Chesapeake as they had in the championship face-off last fall, in which the Bayhawks had netted five to open the game.

As quick as the lightning that cracked over Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium all Wednesday afternoon, Denver struck. Outlaws midfielder Mikie Schlosser rolled up to Phipps’ cage and whipped a low shot right into the strings.

But Anne Arundel’s own wouldn’t let that stand. Grant Maloof, a graduate of South River and Towson, and MLL rookie, stampeded towards goal and flipped a pass to midfielder Brendan Bomberry, who curled in the equalizer.

Despite Schlosser’s early hook, the Outlaws struggled to break down Phipps’ defenses until late in the quarter. The 10-year Major League Lacrosse veteran, who also serves as Archbishop Spalding’s head boys lacrosse coach, withstood a handful of hard-peppered shots on goal while his defense picked off all but Denver’s Chris Aslanian’s slippery goal.

In the meantime, the Chesapeake offense revved up.

Long-stick midfielder Chase Levesque led by potting his first career goal, followed twice by attackman Andrew Kew, who scored the game-winner that delivered the Bayhawks the 2019 MLL crown over the Outlaws, to hand Chesapeake a tenuous advantage, 4-2.

His hand-delivered two-goal advantage wouldn’t survive long as Denver’s Kormondy hit reply with a goal of his own, 4-3.

Advertisement

It would only slip from there. Lee made sure of that.

Just like the first quarter, it took very little time for Denver to make its move. Midfielder Brian Begley, a Loyola graduate, slithered up-field and found Lee in the fray, who made the tying hit to knot the count at 4-4. It would be just a few more minutes before Lee’d strike again, mid-dive, to reclaim the advantage for the Outlaws.

Momentarily, that is. About two minutes later, Chesapeake rookie midfielder Luke Anderson charged down Denver’s turf toward goalkeeper Nick Washuta, bouncing a shot on the ground that ricocheted into the net for the 2-pointer to snatch the lead back.

Lee could not be denied. As Outlaws attack John Grant Jr.‘s pass was blocked by Phipps, Lee collected the rebound and tied the score, 6-6.

All night, Denver would rule from the X. The Outlaws collected 22 of 28 faceoffs. Kormondy credited specialists Max Adler and Casey Dowd for creating so many opportunities for the men in orange. Likewise, Denver beat Chesapeake on ground balls, 44-33.

“Max is excellent, one of the best in the world; Zach [Melillo] did a good job making the ground balls. We didn’t come up with a few ground balls I think we could have had,” Mariano said. “The shot clock negates that advantage a little bit, but it doesn’t help. We just couldn’t get momentum going. We’d score a goal, they’d win a faceoff.”

Both teams scrapped for superiority as the third quarter opened. Out of the melee, Chesapeake star Lyle Thompson, who, too, carried 14 points into the night, broke through off a pass from rookie Nate Solomon to retake the lead, 7-6.

But Lee could not be stopped. Denver’s main threat notched his fourth goal of the night just moments later to tie. His next, just past the nine minute mark, would break it, 8-7.

Anne Arundel County’s own knew what they had to do.

Nick Manis, a short-stick defensive midfielder who recorded his high school days at Severn, broke through the Outlaws to write the sixth tie of the night with his own goal -- his first, finally, in his four years of professional play, and all through his time at Maryland as well.

“Pretty amazing,” Mariano said.

Maloof followed up his fellow county native’s efforts with his own goal — the former South River player’s first career goal as well — to reclaim the lead, 9-8.

And though he didn’t hail from the county, Colin Heacock thought he’d join the Maryland native party. Catonsville’s son quickly boosted Maloof’s score with his own, grabbing a 10-8 Bayhawks lead that would be carried into the fourth quarter.

Denver attack Daniel Bucaro quickly chipped that back just a minute into the frame, but Thompson struck harder. He netted his 16th point of the tournament and second of the night just 51 seconds after, 11-9, and another one, hurling in his hat trick from behind the goal — and the biggest lead of the night yet.

Patience. That’s what Denver kept in mind as Thompson and his Bayhawks embarked on their run.

“We all play a different piece of the puzzle. Just being patient, letting the game come to us and knowing it is a game of runs,” Kormondy said. “They’re gonna have their runs. If we can stay calm and know what we can do, and execute on it, we can take ours. Ended up getting them by one.

Within the next minute, two Outlaws — Schlosser and Aslanian, who assisted Schlosser, whittled the margin to just 12-11.

Just as Lee hounded the Bayhawks earlier on, Chesapeake could not withstand Bucaro’s advances. The Georgetown graduate tied the count for the seventh time, 12-12.

As time wound down in regulation, Denver attempted to gobble the clock while circling Phipps, and goal.

Advertisement

Lee slipped up — literally.

Advertisement

The attack tripped on the wet turf, regained his footing, circled on Phipps. And the Spalding coach collected Lee’s would-be game-winner and hurled it down-field.

“Stood on his head. Definitely kept us in there. Made some big plays,” Mariano said.

Phipps made another big save moments later, in overtime, blocking Jack Jasinkski’s shot.

He couldn’t hold on forever. Kormondy fired — and delivered Denver its win.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement