Annapolis, MD – Attackmen Drew Westervelt and Brendan Mundorf amassed four points apiece, but a gutsy comeback came up just short as the Chesapeake Bayhawks suffered a heartbreaking 18-16 loss to the Denver Outlaws in front of 6,176 fans at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Westervelt scored four goals, including a critical 2-pointer, while Mundorf contributed three goals and an assist for Chesapeake, which erased a big halftime deficit with an impressive rally in the third quarter.
Ben Hunt had a hat trick while fellow midfielder
Joe Walters dished off three assists for the Bayhawks (4-9), who fell despite outshooting the Outlaws (57-37) and dominating the ground ball battle (41-26).
“I just think in the first half we gave away too many possessions and too many points,” Chesapeake Head Coach
Dave Cottle said. “We were winning every face-off and never had the ball because we were turning it over too much.”
Chesapeake got a big game from face-off specialist
Stephen Robarge, who is gradually developing into a dangerous weapon. The second-year pro, whom the Bayhawks acquired from the Outlaws this season, won 29 of the 36 draws he took.
“Stephen Robarge is becoming a pretty good face-off guy in this league,” Cottle said. “When we made the trade we thought he would be a guy that would get better and better.”
Denver jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead, but defensive midfielder
Jeff Reynolds sparked a 3-0 run that put Chesapeake on top. Reynolds got a ground ball in the defensive end and raced unhindered to the front of the cage for an unassisted goal. Mundorf then fed
Kevin Crowley for a goal and scored unassisted himself to make it 3-2 at the 8:22 mark.
Denver tied the score on a power play goal by
John Grant, Jr. when Chesapeake was two men down and that began a 7-0 run that gave the visitors a commanding 9-3 lead. The Bayhawks went more than 18 minutes without scoring until attackman
Ben Rubeor gobbled up a loose ball in the offensive zone and whistled a shot into the top corner. However, Denver scored with just seven seconds left to take a 10-4 advantage into halftime.
“I thought in the first half we let outside factors that we couldn’t control get in the way of a game,” said Chesapeake Head Coach Dave Cottle, referring to the four penalties his squad drew. “We argued with the refs, we mouthed off, we got unsportsmanlike conducts because we didn’t like the calls. In the second half, we cleaned all that up and just played the game.”
Chesapeake committed four penalties in the first half and three were for unsportsmanlike conduct. Cottle was not pleased that three offensive players were guilty of the unsportsmanlike fouls.
“They weren’t playing great and we weren’t playing great so it should have been close, but because of those fouls it wound up being 10-4 at half,” Cottle said. “We just gave them goals, and (the penalties) mostly came from the offensive end. It wasn’t fair what we did to our defense.”
The Bayhawks regrouped in the locker room and came out determined to do a better job of defending their home field in the second half. Midfielder
Matt Mackrides scored unassisted off a nice curl move and that sparked a strong quarter that saw Chesapeake outscore Denver 8-2 to forge a 12-12 tie after three quarters. Westervelt and Hunt scored two goals apiece during the furious rally. One of Westervelt’s goals was a 2-pointer from the right wing off a blazing crank shot.
“I don’t think I can tell you what I said at halftime. That’s the loudest I’ve been in a long time,” Cottle said. “It was not made for TV or interviews, but I really got after them at halftime.”
Denver appeared to seize control by outscoring Chesapeake 5-1 in the opening 11 minutes of the fourth quarter to take a seemingly comfortable 17-13 lead. However, the Bayhawks refused to quit and scored three straight goals to pull back within one.
Mackrides tallied his second goal off a nice feed from Rubeor while Walters then assisted Westervelt and Mundorf on back-to-back power plays that cut the deficit to 17-16 with 1:13 remaining in the game.
Denver won the next face-off and got a goal by
Eric Law from point-blank range, forcing Chesapeake to score a 2-pointer to tie. The Bayhawks got the ball into their offensive zone, but committed a turnover without getting off a shot.
“It was tough to go down by six in the first half, but at halftime we said our goal was to come out and play with great effort,” Walters said. “I was really proud of the team and how we fought back in the second half. We settled down, corrected some mistakes and played our game.”
Attackman John Grant Jr., a key member of Chesapeake’s championship teams in 2012 and 2013, scored four goals and dished off four assists to lead Denver (9-4).
“We didn’t play the two-man game very well, and it wasn’t just one guy’s fault it was everybody’s fault,” Cottle said when asked about Grant’s production. “We were switching when he was too far out and not switching when he was in tight.”
Tyler Fiorito made 11 saves for Chesapeake. Cottle inserted backup
Jack Runkel for the final five minutes of the first half, but put Fiorito back in the game for the entire second half.
“I didn’t think Tyler was playing great, but the whole team wasn’t playing great. Runkel last night in practice was phenomenal so I wanted to give him a chance to get into a game,” Cottle said. “We gave everybody a fresh start in the second half and Tyler deserved a fresh start, too. I thought he played much better after we brought him to the sideline.”
Chesapeake will have their last game of the season on Saturday, August 9th against the Charlotte Hounds at 7:00 PM at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
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