HEMPSTEAD, NY – Superstar attackman Lyle Thompson turned in yet another spectacular display to lift the Chesapeake Bayhawks to their second straight road victory to start the 2019 season.
Thompson scored five goals and dished off two assists as Chesapeake took control in the second half and beat the New York Lizards, 16-14, at James M. Shuart Stadium on Long Island. Thompson totaled six of his seven points in the second half as the Bayhawks steadily wore down their longtime rival.
"Lyle Thompson was great as usual. I think he hit a couple pipes so he could have had even more goals," Chesapeake Head Coach Dave Cottle said, "Lyle is just a great teammate and great player. This is the first time we've had him to start the season and it makes a big difference."
Attackman Steele Stanwick had his second strong game, amassing three assists to run his season total to eight in just two games. Stanwick also scored a goal for the Bayhawks.
"Steele does an outstanding job of running the offense and being a playmaker. I thought he made some great decisions with the ball tonight (June 15)," Cottle said.
Midfielder Nick Mariano added a hat trick for Chesapeake (2-0), which outscored New York 5-2 in the fourth quarter. Attackman Colin Heacock along with midfielders Matt Abbott and Ryan Tucker all contributed a goal and an assist. Goalie Niko Amato was solid between the pipes and finished with 15 saves.
"Niko was much better in the net tonight than the opener and I thought we played great six-on-six defense," Cottle said. "On the offensive side of the field, I thought we scored some hustle goals and some grind-it-out goals."
Chesapeake was coming off a bye week and Cottle said that usually leads to some sloppy play early. Sure enough, the Bayhawks gave up two extra man goals, two directly off faceoffs and two on broken clears.
However, the visitors locked down in the half-field situation with a pair of rookie defenders really stepping up.
Zac Prattson, the Schmeisser Award winner as the top defenseman in Division II as a senior at Le Moyne College, covered perennial All-Pro Rob Pannell and prevented him from taking over the game. Pannell had three goals and an assist in the first half but managed only an assist in the second half.
"I thought Zac Prattson was just fantastic. He did a freaking heck of a job on Pannell," Cottle said.
Meanwhile, Warren Jeffrey (Vermont) made his Major League Lacrosse debut and limited high-scoring attackman Mark Matthews to a goal and two assists. "Warren Jeffery in first pro appearance really took Matthews out of the game," Cottle said.
Abbott put the Bayhawks on the board first, slipping past his defender from the right alley and getting the doorstep for a short shot. The Lizards responded with three straight goals before Heacock scored off an unsettled situation.
Chesapeake swarmed a defender in a riding situation and forced a turnover with Heacock snagging the ground ball and scoring into an empty net. New York increased the lead to 5-2, but midfielder Colton Watkinson fired in a 2-pointer as the horn sounded to end the first period to make it a one-goal game.
"That was a really big goal by Colton and gave us some much-needed momentum," Cottle said.
That started a 6-1 run for the Bayhawks with Mariano scoring twice off completely different shots from up top. It appeared Mariano had the ball slip out of his stick on a crank shot attempt and the ball took an odd bounce and got past New York goalie Austin Kaut. Later, Mariano stepped into a lefty sidearm shot that was an absolute cannon blast and gave Chesapeake an 8-6 lead.
Thompson had started the second quarter by using a pick to get free then blasting a low-to-high shot from the left wing to tie the score at five. Midfielder Ryan Tucker also scored in the stanza – taking a nifty feed from Stanwick, who had snagged the rebound of a missed shot.
Massa scored Chesapeake's final goal of the first half directly off the faceoff, but New York responded to forge a 9-9 tie entering intermission.
Thompson scored goals early and late to put Chesapeake ahead 11-9 in the third quarter. He opened the second half by scooping up a loose ball and unleashing a wicked underhand shot to snap the 9-9 tie. The former Albany All-American then converted off an impressive individual move, reversing direction and cradling with one hand while driving to the goal before suddenly switching back two hands and firing through the five-hole as the Bayhawks grabbed a two-goal advantage.
However, the Lizards scored three goals in the final minute-plus to take a 12-11 lead into the final frame. New York netted the first tally of the fourth quarter to complete a 4-0 run, but Chesapeake answered with a 5-0 run of its own to take a 16-13 lead.
Thompson had two goals and an assist during that game-changing rally – outwitting a double team for one marker and delivering a crafty underhanded flip pass to a cutting Stanwick for a helper. Thompson then scored off another low-to-high ripper with a lightning-quick release as the Bayhawks regained control.
"We started to play with some confidence," Thompson said when asked what Chesapeake did differently in the second half. "We're still coming together as an offense and we took a big step forward in this game tonight."
Mariano capped the decisive onslaught by scoring off a set play following a timeout. Mariano set a pick then cut to the cage and his third goal gave the visitors a three-goal cushion.
After cutting the deficit to 16-14, the Lizards committed two penalties on one sequence and the Bayhawks were able to salt away considerable time during the ensuing 6-on-4 situation. The Lizards attempted to tie the score with a 2-point shot in the final minute, but it was high.
"It feels really good to come-from-behind to win another road game," Cottle said. "We were better than we were in Game 1 and hopefully we'll be even better in Game 3."
The Chesapeake Bayhawks open their home season on Saturday, June 29, at 6:30 p.m. as they take on the Atlanta Blaze for Hometown Hero & First Responder Appreciation Night. The game will be played at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis and will feature a postgame firework show, courtesy of AAMC. To purchase tickets, visit thebayhawks.com/tickets or call the Chesapeake Bayhawks Ticket Office at 866-99-HAWKS. The full season schedule can be viewed at thebayhawks.com/schedule.