ANNAPOLIS, MD – Veteran attackman Matt Danowski scored four goals and dished off an assist to spark another strong comeback, but the Chesapeake Bayhawks came up short again, losing 15-14 to the Charlotte Hounds before a raucous crowd at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Rookie attackman Jake Froccaro made his first home debut and posted a hat trick for the Bayhawks, who suffered their second straight one-goal loss. Second-year midfielder Myles Jones also scored three goals for Chesapeake, who rallied from a six-goal deficit to give themselves a chance to tie at the end.
“With the exception of the first quarter, we played pretty well. For some reason we keep coming out flat and digging ourselves a hole, which is costing us games,” Chesapeake head coach Brian Reese said. “We’ve tried a different warm-up and changing things pre-game, but the results are still the same. We come out passive and on our heels and fall behind before we can finally figure it out.”
Rookie attackman Josh Byrne followed up his spectacular professional debut with another solid effort by totalling three points for the Bayhawks, whose offense has been more than adequate. Defensive breakdowns during the first half were too much for Chesapeake to overcome.
“Our defense has been really disappointing and that’s on me,” Reese said. “We have to find a way to get more stops. We have to play better individual defense and we need to get more saves.”
Froccaro, the team’s first-round draft pick out of Villanova, was a bright spot for the Bayhawks. Froccaro, an attackman at the collegiate level, played midfield and proved a tough cover as he repeatedly got open and scored off hard crank shots.
“Jake is going to be a heck of a player. He made some great moves and scored on some great shots. We were glad he was aggressive and really stepped up,” Reese said.
Rookie Colin Heacock, one of Chesapeake’s three second-round picks, made his MLL debut as well and scored two goals. Heacock, one of the leading scorers for Division I national champion Maryland, proved dangerous while dodging from behind the goal.
“Colin is a handful back there and gives us a nice dodging dimension from behind, which we have been lacking,” Reese said. “I thought all the young guys played really well. We need some of the veterans to step up now.”
Charlotte raced out to a 6-2 lead after one quarter with Josh Byrne having a hand in both goals by Chesapeake. Byrne assisted midfielder Matt Abbott on the team’s first tally, which made it 3-1 midway through the opening period. Abbott fired in a right-handed crank shot from the wing. Byrne then scored unassisted after snagging a loose ball out of midair and finishing from the doorstep to make it 4-2 at the 7:01 mark.
The Hounds went on a 5-1 run to take a 9-3 lead just over two minutes into the second stanza. Rookie Isaiah Davis-Allen jump-started a transition goal with a nice clear and fed Danowski for a crank shot from the left wing to briefly interrupt the run.
Chesapeake has shown a penchant for mounting impressive comebacks this season, and that was the case again on this night. Jones and Fraccaro scored two goals apiece as the Bayhawks closed the first half with a 5-2 run.
Froccaro made a nice individual move to score his first professional goal; driving a shoulder into a defender then quickly spinning around and unleashing a wicked sidearm bounce shot. Heacock then got his first MLL goal; driving from behind the cage and pulling his stick at just the right moment to avoid a check before turning and firing an 8-yard shot into the top corner.
Froccaro worked a nice pick-and-roll with Danowski to get open for another sidearm crank shot from the wing and suddenly it was 10-7. The teams traded goals in the final minutes with Jones bulling his way into the heart of the defense for a point-blank shot with 14.4 seconds remaining and the Bayhawks trailed 11-8 at intermission.
Both teams scored three goals in the third quarter so the Bayhawks were unable to put a further dent in the deficit.
Danowski then beat his defender from goal-line extended and scored on a spectacular shot while diving over the crease. Jones rammed into a defender to create space then spun and fired a low-to-high shot into the top corner. Heacock then scored from the doorstep off a nice feed from Byrne and Chesapeake trailed 14-11 going into the final frame.
Froccaro opened the fourth-quarter scoring for Chesapeake, getting wide-open out front after Charlotte defensive midfielder Jack Adams broke his stick while delivering a cross check. Danowski then scored a man-down goal with a great individual move; blowing past his defenseman off a restart and getting all the way to the cage to make it 15-13 with 8:01 to go.
Neither team scored for the next four and a half minutes and that favoured Charlotte, who was trying to salt away the game and protect its narrow lead. Danowski scored his fourth goal off a fast-break opportunity; taking a pass ahead from short stick defensive midfielder Domenic Sebastiani and putting away a rocket blast of a shot.
Chesapeake forced a turnover to give itself a chance to tie the score for the first time all game. Reese called timeout and set up a play for Danowski to dodge from the wing. Danowski got off a great shot, but Charlotte goalie Charlie Cipriano made a terrific stop to preserve the victory.
Reese is already looking forward to next Saturday night’s game at Ohio when Chesapeake will be at full strength for the first time all season. Superstar attackman Lyle Thompson, acquired in a blockbuster trade during the off-season, is expected to make his Bayhawks debut. Versatile veteran defender Jason Noble should also be back. Thompson and Noble were both members of the Georgia Swarm, which recently won the National Lacrosse League championship.
“We get Lyle and Jason back so hopefully that will give us a lift. We’ve lost three games in a row so something has to change,” Reese said. “Choosing a 19-man roster next week is going to be very difficult.”
The Bayhawks are back at home on July 2nd at 6 p.m. The July 2nd home game will feature a live post-game country concert and fireworks show. To get tickets, call 866-99-HAWKS (42957) or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.