Hartzell Sparks Bayhawks to Playoff Clinching Win
from press releases
With a win over last place Rochester, Michael Kimmel and the reigning champion Chesapeake Bayhawks clinched a spot in the four-team MLL championship weekend, to be held on their home turf Aug. 27-28 in Annapolis.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Defenseman Kyle Hartzell scored two goals, including a 2-pointer, to spark a strong second quarter surge that lifted the Chesapeake Bayhawks to a 13-11 victory over the Rochester Rattlers on Saturday night at PAETEC Park.
With the win, the Bayhawks (6-5) secured their second straight postseason appearance and the seventh playoff berth in franchise history. They own a potential three-way tiebreaker against the Long Island Lizards and Hamilton Nationals, who will fight for the league's final postseason berth on Saturday.
Chesapeake trailed 3-2 when Hartzell and long stick defensive midfielder Jake Deane fueled a decisive run. Deane opened the second quarter by scoring on a hard crank shot off a fast break. Deane then assisted the first goal by Hartzell, who later in the period fired in a 2-point goal.
"We said in practice this week that we wanted to push the ball in transition whenever we could. We definitely have the wheels on the back end to go up and down the field and run-and-gun a little more than we have been," Hartzell said. "Whenever I got the ball off the ground I was taking it up field and trying to make things happen. I consider myself an offensive threat whenever I have the ball in my stick."
Hartzell, who was named Bud Light Most Valuable Player, took the feed from Deane and raced into the heart of the defense before firing a shot between the legs of Rochester goalie John Galloway.
Midfielder Kyle Dixon also netted a 2-pointer off a power play during the second quarter as Chesapeake outscored Rochester, 7-2, to take command. Short stick defensive midfielder Matt Abbott also scored a transition goal as the Bayhawks took a 9-5 lead at halftime.
Midfielder Ben Hunt contributed two goals and an assist for Chesapeake (6-5), which snapped a two-game losing streak and moved closer to securing a playoff berth for the second straight season. Dixon, who has been in a bit of an offensive slump this season, had a breakout game with four points – adding two assists to go along with the 2-point goal.
"We made a commitment to push the ball tonight," Chesapeake head coach Brendan Kelly said. "We wanted to pressure the ball all over the field and cause some turnovers. We wanted to get the ball off the grass and push it every chance we could. We were running downhill all night and really had Rochester back on its heels."
Alex Smith captured 16 of 26 face-offs for the Bayhawks, who also won the ground ball battle to the tune of 32-25. Chris Garrity played three quarters in the goal and was outstanding with 14 saves. Garrity was also a big part of the crucial run, as he stopped eight shots in the second quarter and made several great outlet passes to jump-start the fast break.
"Garrity was just tremendous tonight. He really made some fantastic saves and some great clears," Kelly said.
Abbott finished with two goals for Chesapeake, which was 3-for-5 on power play opportunities. Attackman Danny Glading and midfielder Steven Brooks also had power play goals. The Bayhawks got a total of eight points from defenders as short stick defensive middie Jeff Reynolds also scored a goal.
"This is definitely a big win for us. I think we made a statement tonight that we want to be there on championship weekend to defend our title," Hartzell said.
"The bottom line is that we need to win next Saturday night. We need to get on a roll and win four in a row to finish out the season," he said.
Attackman Ned Crotty scored four goals to lead Rochester (2-9), which had already been eliminated from playoff contention. Midfielder Jeff Colburn had two goals and three assists for the Rattlers.
Bray Malphrus, a rookie out of Virginia, made his Bayhawks debut on close defense along with Hartzell and Michael Evans. That group was aggressive going after ball-carriers and challenging shots.
"Bray Malphrus has looked good in practice so we decided to give him an opportunity tonight and he played great. Malphrus, Hartzell and Evans really clicked tonight and played some lockdown defense," Kelly said.