A six-point outing by attackman Lyle Thompson was not enough as the Chesapeake Bayhawks were beaten by the Denver Outlaws during the Fourth of July game hosted by Broncos Stadium at Mile High that has become a Major League Lacrosse tradition.
Thompson put on an offensive show with five goals and an assist for the Bayhawks, who went down by a score of 14-13 in a game that was delayed three times by inclement weather. Attackman Steele Stanwick scored two goals and dished off two assists for Chesapeake (2-2), which could not hold a late lead against the defending MLL champions.
Goalkeeper Niko Amato stood tall in the cage with 15 saves for the Bayhawks, who led by four early in the fourth quarter. Brendan Bomberry scored two goals while fellow midfielder Andrew Kew added a goal and an assist.
“That was a tough one. Next time we need to finish,” Chesapeake head coach Dave Cottle said. “We have to play better in the fourth quarter.”
A dangerous hailstorm delayed the start by over an hour while lightning and heavy rain caused additional delays in both the second and third quarters, resulting in the game ending at 11:20 p.m. local time.
Ultimately, faceoffs were a big factor in the 4 ½-hour marathon as Denver specialist Max Adler captured 23 of 31. Chesapeake faceoff specialist Kenny Massa missed the game with a concussion suffered last Saturday night against Atlanta and was replaced in the lineup by Eric O’Brien.
“We knew going in that we would struggle a little bit at the faceoff X,” Cottle said. “What hurt the most is that we gave up four goals directly off faceoffs.”
Attackman Chris Aslanian totaled two goals and three assists for league-leading Denver (5-1). John Grant Jr., the all-time leading scorer in Major League Lacrosse, contributed two goals and an assist.
A lightning strike prompted officials to declare a second weather delay with just over five minutes left in the first half. Chesapeake came out of the locker room on fire, scoring two goals in less than a minute to take a 5-4 lead.
Midfielder Matt Abbott took a pass from Stanwick, performed a rapid pirouette and unleashed a sidearm crank shot that caught the goalie by surprise and tied the score. Bomberry then beat a defender from behind the cage and fired from goal-line extended, sticking the corner to give the Bayhawks their first lead since 1-0.
Because the second delay lasted roughly 40 minutes, officials decided to turn that break into a premature halftime. Therefore, the game rolled right into the third quarter without the two teams leaving the field.
Thompson took over at the start of the second half, scoring consecutive unassisted goals with tremendous individual moves. Stanwick then intercepted a pass intended for the goalie and used two fakes to score one-on-one to give the visitors an 8-5 lead.
Thompson scored off an acrobatic move in which he dove into the crease and hung in the air before flipping the ball into the net. He also found midfielder Andrew Kew wide-open out front for a goal.
Chesapeake led 10-8 lead when officials called for a third weather delay due to torrential rain. Once again, the Bayhawks got the better of play when the game resumed, outscoring the Outlaws 2-1 down the stretch.
Midfielder Ryan Keenan scored his first goal of the season off a nice dish from Kew as the Bayhawks grabbed their largest lead of the game, 13-9 at the 14:18 mark of the fourth quarter. However, Chesapeake was outscored 5-0 the rest of the way as Denver’s faceoff dominance produced possession after possession.
Thompson appeared to score a goal that would have tied the score at 14 with just over two minutes remaining, but it was disallowed. Thompson had used another aerial move and replays showed the ball hit the back of the net before he landed in the crease. However, Chesapeake had already used its challenge and therefore could not get the referees to review the play.
“The only two people in the stadium that didn’t think it was a goal were the two guys who took five seconds to wave it off,” Cottle said. “If you’re going to call no-goal then you have to call a push in the back.”
Because the game went so late, Chesapeake was forced to stay in Denver overnight and fly home on Friday. The Bayhawks have a short turnaround as they host the Atlanta Blaze on Saturday night (7 p.m.) at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.