Chesapeake beats Blaze in opener, 16-13

The Chesapeake Bayhawks rallied from a six-goal deficit in the first quarter to defeat the host Atlanta Blaze, 16-13, in their Major League Lacrosse season opener before an announced 4,145 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.

It was the first win under coach Brian Reese and first game in franchise history for the expansion Blaze, which plays in Kennesaw, Ga.


The Bayhawks trailed 6-0 midway through the opening period and 8-2 early in the second before turning the game around.

Matt Danowski, who finished with four goals and four assists, scored three straight to make it 8-5, and after the teams traded goals, the former Duke star and Tewaaraton Trophy winner found the net again. Chesapeake entered halftime down 9-7.


"I'm so happy Matt Danowski is on our team. He's a phenomenal player and a phenomenal leader," Reese said. "When we fell behind early, Matt wanted the ball in his stick and made things happen."

Danowski had the first of five straight Bayhawks goals to open the second half. After Alex Love converted a feed from Nick Ossello, Tyler German scored to put Chesapeake ahead. Matt Abbott and Love had the last two goals of the run to give the Bayhawks a 12-9 lead.

Kevin Rice ended Atlanta's nearly 14-minute scoreless streak with a goal, but after Jay Carlson (Maryland) scored to bring the Blaze within one, it was disallowed because of an illegal stick.

The teams traded goals to start the fourth quarter as Brendan Mundorf (UMBC, Mount Saint Joseph) scored to put the Bayhawks up 14-11. Ryan Tucker, son of Blaze coach John Tucker, answered to cut Atlanta's deficit to 14-12.

Love scored his fourth goal to push the lead to 15-12, and Matt Mackrides converted a feed from Danowski, their third scoring connection of the day, for a 16-12 lead.

Carlson added a late goal, the first of his MLL career, to help the Blaze pull within three, but Chesapeake held on for the victory.

Brian Phipps (Maryland, Severn), acquired in a trade from the Ohio Machine, had 15 saves for the Bayhawks.

"We didn't start the game the way we wanted, but I'm really proud of the way our team fought back," Reese said. "Our players dug deep and found a way to turn that game around."