BROCKPORT, NEW YORK- Attackman Matt Danowski amassed a season-high seven points, but it wasn't enough as the Chesapeake Bayhawks dropped a heartbreaker, 14-13 to the Rochester Rattlers on Sunday afternoon at Eunice Kennedy Shriver Stadium on the campus of SUNY-Brockport.
Danowski was at his dodging and playmaking best in scoring four goals and dishing off three assists for Chesapeake, which was beaten despite outshooting Rochester (42-40) and winning the ground ball battle (34-33). Goalkeeper Tyler Fiorito was his usual stout self with 16 saves, including nine in the second half to help the Bayhawks maintain contact.
"It's a tough loss. We played well at times, we showed a lot of heart by coming back from being down 13-9 in the fourth quarter, but we just don't play smart enough and consistently enough to win these close games," Chesapeake head coach Dave Cottle said.
This contest had critical postseason implications as the Bayhawks and Rattlers were among five teams bunched in the standings behind first place New York (10-2). Rochester (7-5) gained an inside track on one of four playoff berths by sweeping the season series with Chesapeake (5-7), which fell into a tie for fifth place with Denver.
Attackman Ben Rubeor totaled two goals and an assist while midfielder Kevin Crowley contributed a couple assists for the Bayhawks, who must win their final two games in order to remain in playoff contention. Chesapeake could potentially finish with the same record as Ohio and Boston and would have split with those teams, necessitating secondary tiebreaker scenarios.
"We play Boston on Thursday and we have to win that game. That's where we go from here. We cannot think about anything other than winning at home on Thursday night," Cottle said.
Abbott scored off a feed from Crowley then assisted Walters for a shot from the doorstep as Chesapeake took an early 2-1 lead. The Rattlers went on a 3-0 run before Walters stuck a crank shot on a power play to bring the Bayhawks within one at 4-3 after one period.
Rochester outscored the visitors 3-1 to open the second stanza, but Chesapeake closed the quarter with consecutive goals to head into halftime trailing 7-6. Defenseman Jesse Bernhardt went coast-to-coast for an unassisted tally while Walters canned another sidearm crank shot with just seven seconds left as the Bayhawks carried momentum into intermission.
Chesapeake continued to carry the play at the start of the second half with Danowski dodging past defenseman John Lade and using a quick release while on the run to singe the top corner of the cage. Danowski then made a great look to Rubeor, who had slipped behind the defense on the crease and easily finished a one-on-one opportunity.
That completed a 4-0 run to bookend halftime and gave Chesapeake its second lead of the game, 8-7 with 4:16 elapsed in the third period. Rubeor answered a Rochester goal by quick-sticking a Drew Westervelt pass into the back of the net to make it 9-8. However, the Rattlers sandwiched goals around a more than eight-minute scoreless stretch to take a 10-9 lead into the final frame.
Rochester then opened the fourth period with three straight goals to take its largest lead of the game, 13-9 with just over 10 minutes remaining. Walters ended the Rattlers' 5-0 run and snapped a more than 15-minute drought by the Bayhawks, using a pick behind by Crowley behind the cage to gain separation then turning the corner for an unassisted goal.
That seemed to reenergize the Bayhawks, who went on a 4-0 run to tie the contest at 13. Short stick defensive midfielder Patrick Harbeson came up big by scoring off an overhand crank shot during an unsettled situation while Danowski was credited with a goal after a pass inside deflected off a defenseman's stick and got past Galloway.
Danowski then blew past Lade from behind and fired a sidearm wraparound shot past the hip of Galloway to deadlock the score for the fifth time with 4:20 to play. However, it was Rochester that got the game-winner with attackman Kevin Rice getting open out front for his third goal of the game. Midfielder John Ranagan set up the go-ahead goal by beating a short stick defender on a sweep and forcing Bernhardt to slide off Rice.
Rochester committed a violation on the ensuing faceoff, giving Chesapeake one final possession with just over a minute to go. Midfielder Matt Abbott was trying to get the ball behind to Danowski, but he was shut off. Abbott was forced to carry the ball for most of the shot clock and was forced to go to the goal himself. Abbott got inside, but was sandwiched by two defenders and lost the ball with 31 seconds left.
"We have to keep working on playing winning lacrosse," Cottle said. "I thought a bunch of guys really competed today, but there were too many instance in which we were not communicating with each other and not working together. Bottom line, we just made too many dumb mistakes to win a one-goal game."