Midfielder Dan Hardy scored four goals and dished off two assists as the Denver Outlaws built a big lead then held off several second-half rallies to defeat the Chesapeake Bayhawks, 20-16, before a crowd of 3,483 on Saturday night at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Midfielder Max Seibald also scored four goals while attackman Drew Westervelt added three goals and an assist as Denver displayed the type of offensive firepower that propelled it into the Major League Lacrosse championship game in 2009.
Goalkeeper Jesse Schwartzman made 17 saves to anchor a strong defensive effort by Denver (4-2), which moved into a tie with Chesapeake (4-2) for first place in the MLL.
“Denver is a good team that came out fired up to play tonight. You have to be ready to go mentally every game in this league and tonight we were just a little off,” Chesapeake head coach John Tucker said. “We made a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes that ultimately cost us. I think a lot of our wounds tonight were self-inflicted. We don’t have anyone to blame but ourselves.”
Chesapeake goalie Chris Garrity stood tall in the face of an onslaught of 30 shots, making 13 saves to keep his team within striking distance. Alex Smith won 21 of 35 faceoffs for the Bayhawks, who shot poorly and could not take advantage of the extra possessions.
“It was unacceptable as far as the defensive effort. We got beaten to spots, we were slow to slide, and I didn’t make any big saves at times when we really needed one,” Garrity said. “We struggled the whole game to get into a rhythm. We had too many defensive lapses and allowed them too many runs. Defensively, we let the team down tonight.”
Midfielder Brian Vetter had a hat trick to lead the Bayhawks, who pulled within two goals on four occasions during the second half, but could get no closer. Midfielder Kyle Dixon fired in a pair of 2-point goals in totaling five points for the Bayhawks, who had a two-game winning streak snapped.
“We made way too many stupid mistakes tonight. We didn’t slow the ball down when we should have, we forced things and threw away passes … it was just a total lack of focus,” Vetter said.
Westervelt scored two goals and assisted another to key a 4-0 run that gave Denver a 7-2 lead midway through the second quarter. Hardy had four points as the Outlaws led 10-4 with 5:17 remaining. That was Chesapeake’s largest deficit of the season, but Dixon gave the home team a lift by unleashing a cannon blast from beyond the 2-point arc to make it 10-6 at halftime.
Attackman Ben Rubeor fired in a nifty underhanded shot and Smith scored directly off the ensuing face-off as the Bayhawks closed the gap to 10-8 just 52 seconds into the third quarter. However, midfielder Brian Langtry had a goal and an assist as the Outlaws responded with a 3-0 run to regain control.
Chesapeake pulled within two goals three more times – at 13-11, 14-12 and 18-16 – but just could not get over the hump. Rookie midfielder Michael Kimmel dodged a short stick and stuck a left-handed shot on the run to make it 14-12 just 27 seconds into the fourth quarter, but Seibald answered with a 2-point goal that was a real backbreaker.
“Our slides were too sloppy and we kept letting them get inside. We didn’t give Garrity a chance,” Bayhawks defenseman P.T. Ricci said. “This loss is on the defense. When you score 16 goals, you should win.”
Dixon’s second 2-pointer of the game made it 18-16 with 1:09 remaining, but Denver won the next faceoff and Hardy lobbed a 2-pointer of his own into an empty net to end any thoughts of a Chesapeake comeback.
“Sometimes when you expend so much energy climbing the mountain, it’s difficult to get make it over to the other side,” Tucker said. “We’ve got to put this game behind us and come back strong on Thursday.”
Chesapeake, which is now 2-1 at home, returns to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Thursday night (7:30 p.m.) to host Toronto. Call 866-99-HAWKS or visit
www.thebayhawks.comto purchase tickets.