Garrity, Defense Saves Day as Bayhawks Take Over First Place
Goalkeeper Garrity Makes 19 Saves as Chesapeake Holds Off Toronto, 10-9
Goalkeeper Chris Garrity made 18 saves to anchor a gutsy defensive effort as the Chesapeake Bayhawks held off the Toronto Nationals 10-9 on Saturday night at Lamport Stadium. Midfielder Michael Kimmel had a goal and an assist and was named Bud Light Most Valuable Player in his Major League Lacrosse debut for the Bayhawks.
Attackmen Andrew “Buggs” Combs and Danny Glading along with midfielder Peet Poillon all totaled one goal and one assist for Chesapeake, which improved to 4-1 and took over sole possession of first place in the MLL. Chicago, Boston and Denver are all tied for second with 3-2 marks.
“It was a hard-fought game and we feel fortunate to come out on top,” Bayhawks head coach John Tucker said. “Toronto’s guys played like their lives depended on this game, and I was pleased with the way we responded. They came out like gangbusters, but we matched their intensity.”
Midfielder Gavin Prout scored two goals to lead an inspired performance by winless Toronto (0-5), the defending MLL champion. Long stick defensive midfielder Brodie Merrill was a catalyst in the clearing game and dished off three assists for the Nationals, who scored five straight goals to take a 5-2 lead midway through the second quarter.
Chesapeake answered in resounding fashion, scoring the last four goals of the second quarter and the initial goal of the third period to retake the lead 7-5. Faceoff specialist Alex Smith scored his first goal of the season to complete the 4-0 run to close the first half.
“That was big. Toronto kind of jumped on us early, but we settled down defensively, picked up the energy offensively and got on a run of our own,” Tucker said.
Chesapeake took Kimmel with the second overall selection in last Sunday’s MLL Collegiate Draft and the Johns Hopkins All-American made an immediate impact. Kimmel, the only one of the team’s draft picks to dress on Saturday night, displayed great field vision and an ability to break down defenders with dodgers in sparking the offense.
“Michael did an outstanding job tonight. He made a lot of big plays and I can’t wait to see how he does once he becomes more acclimated to our team,” Tucker said.
Perennial All-Pro midfielder Kyle Dixon fired in a 2-point goal to give Chesapeake a 9-6 lead with just over nine minutes left in the third period. Dixon now has six 2-point goals this season and a franchise-record 23 in his five-year pro career.
Kimmel then scored the first goal of his MLL career to put the visitors ahead 10-7 after three quarters. That’s when Garrity and the defense took over. While Chesapeake’s offense was shut out in the fourth quarter, the defense held Toronto to two goals to preserve the lead. All-Pro attackman John Grant scored with just over six minutes left to cut the deficit to 10-9, but Garrity made several huge saves down the stretch to prevent the Nationals from tying the score
“Garrity was great again and I thought the defense played well the entire game,” Tucker said. “They got the ball on the ground and didn’t give up many second-chance opportunities.”
Close defenseman Michael Evans, Ray Megill and Joe Cinosky anchored an overpowering performance as Chesapeake held Toronto to just two goals in each of the final three quarters. Long stick defensive midfielder P.T. Ricci had a strong game between the lines with seven ground balls and a slew of clears.
“We’ve been working on playing as a cohesive unit and becoming comfortable with one another and I think we took a big step forward tonight,” Evans said. “It was tight and we knew we needed to step up defensively. Garrity definitely made some big saves, but we helped him out by forcing Toronto to shoot from the outside a lot.”
Toronto made goalkeeper Scott Rodgers its No. 1 pick last Sunday and the Notre Dame All-American was spectacular in his MLL debut – making 19 saves, 14 of which came in the first half.
While happy to hold sole possession of first place in the MLL, Tucker was not getting too excited as Chesapeake still has seven regular season games remaining. “It feels good for now, but there is still a long way to go in this season,” he said.