Turner, Chesapeake Defense Control Lizards
from press release
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Goalkeeper Kip Turner anchored a suffocating defensive effort while midfielder Ben Hunt led a balanced offense with four points as the Chesapeake Bayhawks whipped the Long Island Lizards, 13-6, before a raucous crowd of 10,083 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Turner made 10 saves and credited close defensemen Michael Evans, Nicky Polanco, and Brian Spallina for harassing Long Island into 5-for-36 shooting. Long stick defensive midfielder Barney Ehrmann scooped up five ground balls for the Bayhawks, who limited the Lizards to just one goal in both the first and third quarters.
"We weren't happy with our performance last weekend against Boston so we had a defensive meeting and made sure everyone was on the same page," Evans said. "We came out focused tonight and communicated well. Everyone worked together on defense and we really shut them down."
Attackman John Grant Jr. and midfielder Steven Brooks totaled three points apiece for Chesapeake (10-3), which remains in the driver's seat to earn the top seed for the Major League Lacrosse playoffs. Chesapeake is tied with Denver (10-3), but currently owns the tiebreaker by virtue of winning the first regular season meeting between the teams on June 2. The Bayhawks and Outlaws meet again next Saturday in Annapolis with the regular season championship on the line.
Midfielder Michael Kimmel scored two goals while attackman Danny Glading contributed a goal and assist for Chesapeake, which was without head coach Dave Cottle. Team owner Brendan Kelly filled in for Cottle, whose son Sean underwent emergency surgery on Saturday evening. Cottle reported afterward that the surgery was a success and his son was resting comfortably.
Kelly said all the players signed a game ball for Sean Cottle at halftime and that they were definitely motivated to beat Long Island as a tribute to their coach and his family.
"Absolutely! These guys love Coach Cottle so they were ecstatic to get this win for him and his son," Kelly said. "Dave is a great guy and a great coach and I look forward to him being back on the sideline next week leading the charge."
Hunt scored four goals, one of which was a 2-pointer that gave Chesapeake the single-season team record in that category. The Bayhawks now have 26 two-point goals this season, breaking the previous record set by the Boston Cannons in 2002. Midfielder Kyle Dixon added to his single-season MLL record by firing in his 13th two-pointer on a power play early in the third quarter.
"Ben Hunt really came to play tonight. He was the game-changer," Kelly said of the Bud Light Player of the Game. "He had two early goals to get us going and the big two at the end to seal it. He's a beast that can go right down the alley and score."
Adam Rand played an important part of the decisive victory by winning 12 of 20 face-offs against Greg Gurenlian, who was leading the league in face-off wins (216) and percentage (.605). "I can't say enough about Adam Rand. The kid lives up to every challenge. He was a huge part of our win tonight," Kelly said.
Grant, Hunt and Kimmel scored two goals apiece as Chesapeake raced out to a 7-2 halftime lead. The Bayhawks outshot the Lizards 28-15 in the first half while Rand captured seven of 11 face-offs.
Denver defeated Rochester, 17-12, on Saturday night, setting up a showdown next Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Chesapeake would capture the regular season title outright and earn the top seed with a win. If Denver wins, the two teams would go to a tiebreaker system with the first criteria being total goals scored during the season.
"Of course that game is important because it's the difference between playing at noon or three on championship weekend," said Kelly, referring to the start times for the semifinals on Saturday, Aug. 25th. "It's definitely a big deal to get those extra three hours of rest so we want to be the top seed and play first."