ANNAPOLIS, MD –Attackman Drew Westervelt scored three goals and dished off two assists as the Chesapeake Bayhawks defeated the Rochester Rattlers, 12-8, to clinch a berth in Major League Lacrosse Championship weekend.
“If we’re going to be a team that has a chance to be successful at the end of the year, this is as game we had to get,” Chesapeake president and head coach
Dave Cottle said. “I thought we moved the ball really well against a good defensive team. We slid well on defense and helped each other out. I thought it was a really good effort overall.”
Ben Rubeor added four points on a goal and three assists for Chesapeake (8-5), which has won four of its last five games. Midfielder
Kyle Dixon and attackman
John Grant, Jr. both contributed a goal and two assists for the Bayhawks, who have reached the playoffs in four straight seasons – all since
Brendan Kelly took over as owner.
“It feels good to get into the playoffs again. We knew this was sort of a must-win and I thought we played with a sense of urgency,” Dixon said. “We’ve strung together four good seasons, which shows consistency and is a real testament to the leadership of our owner and coaching staff.”
Matt Abbott played great defense and totaled two goals and an assist in being named Player of the Game. Abbott was the catalyst of a defense that forced Rochester (5-8) into a slew of turnovers.
“I thought Matt got Player of the Game for intercepting all those passes,” Cottle said. “I thought we did a tremendous job of sliding to the dodger and getting our recovery guys into the passing lanes. We must have made 10 interceptions and that was really the difference in the game.”
Chesapeake came out strong, seizing an early 3-0 lead behind a goal and assist by Westervelt. The Bayhawks began the second period with a similar 3-0 run with Abbott delivering a goal and an assist to push the lead to 6-2.
Chesapeake closed the first half scoring with a well-executed play as Westervelt dodging from behind the net and delivering a beautiful feed to a cutting Rubeor, who faked out the goalie and fired in a short shot from the crease to make it 7-3 at intermission.
A tough sequence that went against Chesapeake helped Rochester rally. First,
Dave Lawson scored a goal that Cottle challenged because it appeared the rookie midfielder stepped in the crease. Moments later,
Ned Crotty netted a 2-point power play goal that suddenly cut the deficit to 7-6.
However, Chesapeake responded in championship fashion with Abbott taking a feed from Rubeor and firing in a crank shot then Grant converting a nice pass from
Mike Kimmel to push the advantage back to three goals.
Westervelt scored consecutive goals to close the third period and open the fourth as Chesapeake equaled its largest lead of the game at 11-7. Goalkeeper
Kip Turner (nine saves) and the defense dominated down the stretch, holding the visiting Rattlers without a goal for a stretch of almost 17 minutes spanning the third and fourth quarters.
“Rochester has a lot of weapons, but we knew what we needed to do in order to contain them,” Chesapeake defenseman
Michael Evans said. “We had a game-plan and did a pretty good job executing it. We held a good offensive team to eight goals, which is difficult to do.”
Chesapeake will be seeking to secure either the second or third seed in the playoffs when its hosts Charlotte (7-6) next Saturday (7 p.m.) at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.