Garrity’s 14 Saves, Dixon’s Four Points Lead Chesapeake Past Chicago
Annapolis, MD – Midfielder Kyle Dixon led a balanced attack with four points while goalie Chris Garrity anchored a strong defensive effort with 14 saves as the Chesapeake Bayhawks clinched a postseason berth with a 20-12 victory over the Chicago Machine on Saturday night at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in front of a crowd of 7,297.
Midfielders Brian Carroll, Ben Hunt and Jed Prossner all totaled two goals and an assist for Chesapeake (5-6), which snapped a five-game losing streak in impressive fashion. Midfielders Michael Kimmel and Peet Poillon along with attackman Andrew “Buggs” Combs scored two goals apiece for the Bayhawks, who posted their second-highest point total of the season.
“Our main goal was to win and stay alive. To come out and win by eight goals and get into the playoffs is icing on the cake. We’re back after five years and we’re going to give everyone a run for their money,” said Garrity, who was named Bud Light Most Valuable Player.
Chesapeake needed to beat Chicago by at least four goals in order to secure a spot in the Major League Lacrosse Championship, being held Aug. 21-22 in Annapolis. The Bayhawks accomplished that task thanks to a tremendous third quarter in which they outscored the Machine 10-1.
“We got back to what we do best. When we move the ball we’re unbelievable, when we don’t move the ball we’re terrible,” Chesapeake president and head coach Brendan Kelly said. “We worked really hard on that the last two weeks, I put the guys on the field that I felt moved the ball the best, and we came out and scored 20 goals. I’m really proud of these guys.”
Hunt and Prossner both scored twice as Chesapeake came out on fire and netted eight straight goals to open the third period. Midfielder Jeremy Sieverts fired in a clutch 2-point goal during the dominating run. Combs, who has announced his retirement after a tremendous eight-year professional career, added two goals as the Bayhawks took a commanding 20-11 lead.
“I think this is probably the second time this season we put together a complete game. Our offense was clicking on all cylinders while the defense just dominated,” Hunt said. “We ran two offensive midfields the whole game and I think we wore down Chicago in the second half. We came out in the third quarter and just exploded on them and built a big lead that made it hard for them to come back.”
Combs, a former University of Maryland standout who began his career with the Bayhawks and also played for Rochester and Los Angeles, was recognized in a special ceremony prior to the game. The Towson native was all smiles afterward as he was thrilled to see the team’s offense get going again.
“We got back to being unselfish. If you take a look at this tape, you will see three and four passes before every goal,” Combs said. “It wasn’t the first dodge then shoot. You can’t win in this league doing that. We were dodging and moving the ball quickly and finding the open shooters.”
Since making a coaching change on July 12, Chesapeake has conducted two mandatory practices that were far more intense than usual. Combs said Kelly and the rest of the coaching staff sent a strong message to the players.
“We’ve gone at each other really hard the last couple practices. I’m not surprised by this result because I know from those practices that this team has taken its effort to another level,” Combs said.
Chesapeake benefitted from the return of four key players who helped the United States national team capture the Federation of International Lacrosse World Championship. Alex Smith resumed taking faceoffs and won 19 of 34, including seven straight during the decisive third quarter run. Dixon was again serving as the team’s offensive quarterback and delivered two goals (including a 2-pointer) and an assist. Joe Cinosky returned to the close defense and was joined by Shawn Nadelen, who had not played for Chesapeake this season while rehabilitating a knee injury in order to represent Team USA.
Nadelen, who has now played in a franchise record 93 career games for the Bayhawks, spearheaded a bruising defensive effort that limited the Machine to 27 shots. Many of those were low-percentage attempts from the perimeter that Garrity ate up.
“Getting Shawn Nadelen back was huge. He’s a veteran guy who brings a lot of toughness. He was putting people on their backs and that was good to see,” Kelly said.
Boston (7-3) and Denver (7-3), which played each other Saturday night, had already clinched playoff berths. Long Island (6-5) clinched the fourth spot last night with a 16-11 victory over Toronto.
“We wanted to make a point tonight. We didn’t just want to win by four, we wanted to beat (Chicago) convincingly and show that we deserve to be in the playoffs,” Kelly said.
Our goal is to win a championship, not just make the playoffs. It takes playing with passion and consistency. I’m not satisfied with just making the playoffs. We’ve got a great opportunity to win a championship on our home field.”
BAYHAWKS BITS: Dixon fired in his league-leading 10th 2-point goal of the season. The fifth-year veteran out of Virginia now has 27 career 2-pointers, second in MLL history behind Roy Colsey (33)… Chesapeake midfielders Ben Hunt (Severna Park, North Carolina) and Brian Vetter (Annapolis, Towson) will sign autographs today at the Sports Clips franchise located in the Festival at Riva off Forest Drive.