Kimmel Scores Winning Goal as Chesapeake Completes Miracle Comeback
Cambridge, MA - The Chesapeake Bayhawks loudly announced themselves as a contender for the Major League Lacrosse championship with a miraculous comeback win over the Boston Cannons on Saturday night at Harvard Stadium.
Rookie midfielder Michael Kimmel fired in a goal 1:29 into overtime to lift Chesapeake to a thrilling 16-15 victory in the final regular season game. Kimmel, the team’s first round draft pick out of Johns Hopkins, dodged down the alley and perfectly placed a 15-yard right-handed shot into the lower left hand corner.
“Kimmel might be a rookie, but he plays with the poise of a veteran. It was a beautiful shot, off-side and low,” Chesapeake president and coach Brendan Kelly said.
“This is a fantastic win for this franchise. To be tested on the road by the best team in the league and come back the way we did in a hostile environment is very uplifting,” Kelly added.
Back-to-back unassisted goals by Matt Poskay and Justin Smith gave Boston a seemingly insurmountable 15-12 lead with less than five minutes left in regulation. However, the visiting Bayhawks refused to fold and veteran midfielder Kyle Dixon singlehandedly authored a rousing rally.
Dixon gave the Bayhawks life with a 2-point goal that cut the deficit to 15-14 with 3 minutes, 50 seconds to go. Chesapeake then got the ball back in Dixon’s stick in the final minute and the sixth-year professional delivered again, making a determined drive to the goal and scoring a short-handed goal to force the extra session.
“Kyle Dixon is our go-to guy. We called timeout and I told him we needed a 2-point goal and he went out and did exactly what I asked,” Kelly said. “We were down a man with time running out and he split two World Team defenders in Kyle Sweeney and Ryan McClay and stuck the tying goal with the game on the line.”
Second-year midfielder Ben Hunt also scored a clutch 2-point goal in the fourth quarter and wound up leading Chesapeake with five points. Dixon finished with four points while attackman Ben Rubeor scored three goals for Chesapeake, which closed the regular season on a two-game winning streak to improve its record to 6-6.
Alex Smith helped Chesapeake control possession by winning 21 of 32 faceoffs while goalkeeper Chris Garrity made 13 saves. Kimmel totaled two goals for the Bayhawks, who will be seeded fourth for MLL Championship Weekend and will have a rematch with the Cannons (8-5) in the semifinals on Saturday, Aug. 21 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
“This win absolutely establishes that we can win an MLL title. We just handed Boston its only home loss of the season, and to do it in the fashion we did tonight is totally awesome,” Kelly said. “I’m very, very, very proud of the players. We came back three different times in this game. We showed a ton of heart, never quit and kept the pressure on Boston the whole way.”
Attackman Max Quinzani scored four goals while midfielder Paul Rabil totaled two goals and two assists for Boston, which jumped out to a 3-0 lead early in the first quarter and also held leads of 7-2 in the opening minutes of the second quarter and 12-9 after three periods. Matt Poskay scored three goals while Justin Smith had three goals and an assist for the Cannons, who still finished as regular season champions.
Denver (8-4) will be the second seed and will meet Long Island (7-5) in the other semifinal game on Aug. 21 in Annapolis.