A fourth-quarter rally by the Charlotte Hounds came up just short on Sunday afternoon, as the Chesapeake Bayhawks defended their Major League Lacrosse Championship title with a 10-9 victory at PPL Park in Chester, PA. It is the second-straight title for the Bayhawks, and third in four years (’10, 12, ’13). Veteran John Grant Jr. was named MVP of the weekend after putting together a seven-point performance over two games, including four goals in the final. The Hounds meanwhile were led by Ryan Young, who posted seven points on Sunday, tallying four goals and three assists.
The game’s first half was a low-scoring, defensive battle. The Hounds got on the board first, as Young beat his defender one-on-one for an easy goal just over a minute in to the contest. But Casey Powell sparked the Bayhawks to two-straight tallies, first making a behind-the-back pass to Ben Rubeor for a goal, and then working behind the cage before taking it low on Adam Ghitelman for a 2-1 advantage. Young stepped up again for the Hounds with a great individual effort to even the score at 2-2. Then with one second left on the clock, Rubeor fed Grant Jr. who was able to beat Ghitelman low and give the Bayhawks a 3-2 lead at the end of one.
The second quarter went scoreless for over 11 minutes before Powell connected with Grant Jr. to keep momentum in the Bayhawks’ favor. Then, just like what happened in the first quarter, Drew Westervelt in the final second of the half thread a pass through traffic to Grant Jr. who buried the shot to keep the Bayhawks in front 5-2 going into the intermission. Kip Turner saved seven of nine shots in the first half, and kept the Hounds off the board in the second quarter.
The Bayhawks kept it rolling coming out of the break, as Grant Jr. notched his fourth of the day to push their lead to 6-2. But the Hounds offense started to come alive, as Jake Tripucka spun around his defender and got a pass off to Young who buried the shot. It was the first Hounds goal after 21 minutes of scoreless play. Young less than a minute later followed up with his fourth of the game to pull the Hounds within two, 6-4, with 7:19 left in the quarter. But the Bayhawks never let up, and closed the third with two straight goals from Westervelt and Matt Mackrides to build an 8-4 lead heading into the final stanza.
The Hounds struck first in the fourth, as a shot from Matt Danowski went wide but Young was able to grab the loose ball and dish to Mike Sawyer who rifled a goal past Turner. However, Danowski two-and-a-half minutes later was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, giving the Bayhawks a one-minute man-up advantage. They immediately capitalized, as some sharp passing resulted in Westervelt’s second of the game to reclaim a four goal, 9-5, lead. The momentum began to shift though, as the Bayhawks’ Jeff Reynolds was called for interference, allowing Young to set up Peet Poillon for the power-play goal. Another penalty to Adam Rand of the Bayhawks lead to a quick goal by Sawyer to pull the Hounds within two, 9-7, with 7:57 remaining in the game. Westervelt completed the hat trick nearly two minutes later, and the next seven minutes of the game went scoreless before Danowski ripped a 2-pointer from long range to account for the 10-9 final.
The loss caps a 2013 in which the Hounds finished 7-7 in the regular season to claim to the fourth and final MLL playoff spot. In their semifinal match on Saturday, the Hounds knocked off the previously undefeated Denver Outlaws 17-14 to advance to the Championship game. It was the team’s first postseason appearance in just its second year of MLL play. The Hounds now will look ahead to the offseason, which includes the Supplemental Draft in December and Collegiate Draft in January.