In the words of midfielder Ben Hunt, the Chesapeake Bayhawks got back to playing Bayhawks lacrosse.
Attackman Brendan Mundorf scored three of Chesapeake's final four goals — including the game-winner with 2 minutes, 57 seconds left in regulation — and a review by coach Dave Cottle overturned a potential game-tying goal to propel the reigning Major League Lacrosse champions to a 16-15 win against the Boston Cannons on Saturday night before an announced 6,843 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
With the win, the Bayhawks ended a four-game losing streak and improved to 2-5. Chesapeake remains in last place in the league, but only 1½ games behind the New York Lizards for the fourth and final spot in the MLL playoffs.
But perhaps nearly as important, the team rediscovered the fun of the game.
“It's a big win for our organization,” said Hunt (Severna Park), who led Chesapeake with career highs in goals (six) and points (eight). “We started off the season a little rough, and it felt good to get back into the win column. This is a good team win tonight. We were having fun out there, and that was the most important thing. After every goal, we were coming together and we were celebrating, and we were back to playing Bayhawk lacrosse.”
Also key was the play of Mundorf (UMBC, Mount St. Joseph), who scored five goals. With a delayed penalty on Boston (3-4) for too many men on the field, Mundorf curled around the right post, barreled into two defenders and still managed to bounce a shot past goalkeeper Jordan Burke.
The Cannons appeared to have tied the game with nine seconds remaining after midfielder Stephen Berger dived from behind the net and flipped the ball past goalkeeper Kip Turner (Severn). But Cottle, out of desperation, challenged the ruling, and officials overturned the goal after reviewing video and judging the play a crease violation.
“You had to” challenge the play, Cottle said. “There was [nine] seconds left, and it was a bang-bang play. We had to. We were going to challenge it, and then when you watched the replay, we thought we had a decent challenge, but you never know how that goes.”
Asked about the overturned goal, Berger (Washington College, Mount St. Joseph's) called it a “tough call.”
“It's a tough game, it's a tough call,” said Berger, who led Boston with four goals. “I don't know. I think at the end of the day, the new replays kind of make a difference. They said they had the angles covered. I've had other people say it was a goal. It's just like anything. You've got to keep playing. I don't think we should have put ourselves in that situation in the first place. So kind of with that, we put our backs against the wall.”
Mundorf's goal capped a spirited comeback for the Bayhawks, who trailed by 11-17 at halftime.
Chesapeake opened the third quarter with four consecutive goals to tie the game at 11 with 9:46 remaining. The teams then traded goals until Mundorf's game-winner.
Midfielder Joe Walters (Maryland) finished with four assists, and midfielder Matt Mackrides added three points on one goal and two assists. Turner recorded a game-high 15 saves.
The Bayhawks broke open a 4-4 game in the first quarter with a 3-0 run for their largest lead of the game.
The Cannons, however, took advantage of a pair of penalties assessed to defenseman Nicky Polanco. For punching Berger in the back of the head after he converted a pass from midfielder Paul Rabil (Johns Hopkins) with 9:39 left in the second quarter, Polanco earned a two-minute penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and a five-minute penalty for misconduct, both of which were nonreleasable.
The Cannons took advantage with another Rabil-to-Berger connection with 9:12 remaining and a goal from attackman Kevin Buchanan (Calvert Hall) with 8:24 left to tie the score at 7.
Boston added four more goals, including a two-point score from midfielder Brent Adams, to cap a 7-0 run, erasing the 7-4 deficit and taking the four-goal lead into halftime.
Cottle said he challenged his players at halftime to overcome Polanco's penalty.
“All year, we haven't been able to overcome a negative play,” Cottle said. “To be up 7-4 and then trail 11-7, that's what we talked about at half, overcoming the negative play. We played a great third quarter in the offensive end of the field and won some faceoffs to score goals. So that was a big third quarter for us, our most important quarter of the season for us.”