MLL: Blaze take down Bayhawks

Lyle Thompson tries to get by Leo Stouros. Atlanta Blaze @ Chesapeake Bayhawks, June 29, 2019. (Photo credit: Laura Kupsey)

The Atlanta Blaze soundly defeated the Chesapeake Bayhawks to end their undefeated streak and spoil the Bayhawks’ home opener on Saturday with a 19-10 win.

Lyle Thompson’s magical goals kept Bayhawks’ fans entertained throughout the evening despite the loss. He took multiple hits that seemed to echo through the stadium. He was double teamed and triple teamed, yet he still found multiple ways to put the ball in the back of the net. And Thompson continued to show how he is not just a star attack player: he sprinted down the field to chase after Blaze players and tried to force turnovers. A few of the players looked startled as he ran up behind them, next to them, or came in from the front to try and get the ball back.

Thompson’s six-point show consisted of four goals and two assists. He remains a threat even when he isn’t using his wizardry to force balls into the goal cage or slickly sliding them into the sticks of his teammates. He forces his defenders to remain on him at all times. He also forces the defenders who are next to him to watch him as well. Usually his teammates take advantage of this and swoop in for goals.  This was not the case on Saturday night.

Randy Staats tries to get away from Warren Jeffrey. Atlanta Blaze @ Chesapeake Bayhawks, June 29, 2019. (Photo credit: Laura Kupsey)

What was the case was that Atlanta caught fire quickly in the first quarter and kept burning. Shayne Jackson lit the stadium up with his seven-point effort that included five goals and two assists. Randy Staats followed closely behind with a six-point tally that included three goals and three assists.

Chesapeake went up 4-3 in the first quarter—the only time they lead all game. Atlanta came blazing back in the second quarter when they scored seven goals to Chesapeake’s single marker to lead 10-5. The halftime talk seemed to only refuel the already burning hot Blaze who came out and scored four while blanking the Bayhawks.

Chesapeake seemed to find some life in the fourth quarter—mainly due to Lyle Thompson’s wizardry. He scored three of the Bayhawks’ five goals, but Atlanta kept pace with give goals of their own, including three from Shayne Jackson.

The teams appeared almost evenly matched in every category except the scoreboard and ground balls. Atlanta outshot Chesapeake 34-30. Chesapeake captured 14 faceoffs to Atlanta’s 18. Even the time of possession was close.

The Bayhawks will need to have stronger contributions from other key players in order to get back to their winning ways. The Blaze will need to keep their offense hot. Chesapeake is in Denver to face the Outlaws for a July 4th showdown. Atlanta next faces Chesapeake on July 6th.