It was a battle of two eerily similar teams.
Heading into Saturday's game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, the Chesapeake Bayhawks and Ohio Machine — both 1-3 — sat at the bottom of the Major League Lacrosse standings.
Both teams had struggled to put points on the scoreboard this season, as Chesapeake had netted a league-low 38 goals and Ohio scored just 45.
Each team was looking to get back on track by ending a losing streak, and the Machine emerged as the team to do so, defeating Chesapeake, 15-11, to improve to 2-3 and pick up its first win since the season opener April 26.
It was the first time Ohio beat the Bayhawks (1-4) since joining the league in 2012.
Following the game, Bayhawks coach Dave Cottle pointed to a number of reasons for the loss.
"Giving up too many goals — 15 goals again..." Cottle said. "Turned the ball over a little too much, didn't finish our shots and gave up some bad goals."
Before matching up with the Machine, Chesapeake hadn't played in two weeks — a 15-12 loss to the Florida Launch May 17 — but didn't come out sluggish Saturday.
Defenseman Michael Evans said the team took the time off to gel as a unit in practices and workouts. And that translated.
Appearing relaxed and rejuvenated, the Bayhawks — who have not won since May 3 — came out peppering Ohio's net with shots and jumped out a 4-1 lead after a two-point shot from midfielder Kyle Dixon. But the Machine answered with a four-goal run that spanned nearly four minutes to end the first quarter with a 5-4 lead.
The Bayhawks came out firing in the second quarter to reclaim a 6-5 lead with two quick goals. Attackman Drew Westervelt scored on a behind-the-back shot, assisted by fellow attackman Brendan Mundorf, before Mundorf added a goal of his own.
But the Machine powered back again, this time with goals from attackman Marcus Holman and midfielder Peter Baum. The Bayhawks went into halftime in the midst of a 13-minute scoring drought, trailing Ohio 7-6.
Goalkeeper Kip Turner, who finished the night with 10 saves, took most of the blame for the Chesapeake's struggles defensively, especially those in the first half.
"It starts with us taking away transition and I feel like we should've given up a couple of goals at halftime — maybe three. Not the seven … that we did," Turner said. "Just getting in the hole in transition, I need to make a couple more saves."
The Bayhawks opened the third quarter with a three-goal run — two goals from Mundorf and one from midfielder Matt Abbott — to take a 9-7 lead.
But a Chesapeake miscue shifted the momentum. At the 4:31 mark in the third quarter, Bayhawks defenseman Brian Megill got flagged for two penalties — a one-minute, releaseable slash and a one-minute, non-releasable unsportsman-like conduct penalty.
With Megill on the sideline for two minutes, Ohio capitalized on the man-up opportunity. After attackman Logan Schuss scored, attackman Marcus Holman found the net on the team's first two-point goal of the season. Baum added another goal and, just like that, Chesapeake's 9-7 lead turned into an 11-9 advantage for Ohio.
The Machine never looked back. Ohio ended the game on an 8-2 run that included another man-up goal at the start of the fourth quarter after Megill was flagged again, this time for a 30-second push.
To go with hat tricks from Schuss, Baum and a game-high six points (four goals, one assist) from Holman, the Machine defense also held Chesapeake without a goal for nearly 16 minutes, spanning the third and fourth quarters.
The Bayhawks scored back-to-back goals in 20 seconds with about four minutes left in the game to trim the lead to 14-11.
"What do we hang our head over now? I don't see anything that we're great at," he said. "And so, we have to find something that we're great at. Right now, we're not great at anything."
But Turner has hope.
"We're a resilient group of guys, it's not like we've been down before," he said sarcastically. "Chips are down on us right now. We're in the cellar. But I think we got a group that can fight their way out."
YRL Unsung Hero Award winners announced
At halftime of Saturday's game, the One Love Foundation presented former Yale defenseman Dylan Levings and junior Colgate defender Emily Speck with The Yeardley Reynolds ("YRL") Unsung Hero Award.
The national organization is dedicated to ending relationship violence in honor of Baltimore native and University of Virginia women's lacrosse player Yeardley Love, who was murdered by her boyfriend in 2010.
Each year, the award recognizes the accomplishments of a men's and women's Division I lacrosse player "who helps their team achieve success in ways that may not be measured in goals, saves or ground balls" and "share the qualities Yeardley Love so humbly displayed."
Levings and Speck will be awarded a monetary gift that will be donated to a charity of their choice.
Levings, who plays for the Bayhawks, did not dress on Saturday.
The female YRL Unsung Hero Finalists included: Elyse Andrews (Delaware), Colleen Smith (Princeton), Sydney Godette (Boston University) and Molly Shawhan (University of Notre Dame).
The male YRL Unsung Hero Finalists included: Cameron Stone (Hobart College), Tom Schreiber (Princeton), Adam Fishman (Dartmouth) and Cody Futia (Albany).