Hunt is On, as Bayhawks Win MLL Season Opener
from press release
Kyle Dixon's two-point goal in the third quarter was the 34th of his career, moving him into a first-place tie with Roy Colsey for the most in MLL history.
© Lee Weissman
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Midfielder Ben Hunt led the way with five points as the Chesapeake Bayhawks rallied from an early deficit to defeat the Long Island Lizards, 13-11, on Saturday night at James M. Shuart Stadium in New York in the Major League Lacrosse (MLL) season opener for both teams.
Hunt scored three goals, one of which was a 2-pointer, and dished off an assist as Chesapeake won its opener for the third straight season. Hunt was the leader of a tremendous performance from the offensive midfield unit as running mates Michael Kimmel and Steven Brooks also scored two goals.
"We really came together as a team tonight and established our identity," said Hunt, who was named Bud Light Player of the Game. "We have a lot of new faces this season and it was great to see how well we played as a team. Everyone was really unselfish on offense. We moved the ball well and everybody contributed."
Head coach Dave Cottle primarily ran the first midfield while rotating the time among Hunt, Kimmel, Brooks, and Kyle Dixon – latter of which contributed a goal and an assist. Those four players accounted for 12 points in the contest.
"Our midfield shooting was pretty solid. We took some high-percentage shots and put them in the back of the net," Cottle said.
Host Long Island jumped out to a 3-0 lead on the strength of two goals from second-year attackman Grant Catalino. However, Hunt was the catalyst as Chesapeake roared back with seven straight goals to take a 9-3 lead. That decisive run featured 2-point goals by Hunt and Dixon.
"When Ben Hunt sets his feet, he can really shoot the ball," Cottle said. "He's been battling a hamstring issue, but he fought through it and played very well tonight."
Kimmel put the visitors on the board with a goal at the 2:18 mark of the first quarter. Hunt fired in a two-pointer to start a second quarter that saw the Bayhawks outscore the Lizards 5-0 and take a 6-3 halftime lead.
Dixon then completed the onslaught with a two-pointer 3:30 into the third quarter. Dixon, a seven-year veteran out of Virginia, is now tied with Roy Colsey for first in MLL history with 34 career two-point goals. Dixon dedicated the game to a former Archbishop Spalding teammate who died of cancer on Saturday morning. He changed his uniform number from 11 to 5 in honor of John Petrovick.
"Kyle played with a heavy heart tonight, but he also played with great determination in honor of his friend," Cottle said.
T.C. DiBartolo, a rookie out of Mount St. Mary's, started in goal and was outstanding with 15 saves. He made a tough stop down the stretch to preserve the two-point lead.
"For a rookie starting his first professional game, I thought T.C. did a very good job. He made a huge save at the end to put an end to Long Island's comeback bid," Cottle said.
Cottle also had high praise for the close defense consisting of Michael Evans, Brian Spallina, and Barney Ehrmann. Spallina drew an early unsportsmanlike conduct against his former team, but Cottle did not mind because he said it set a tone of toughness for the visitors.
"I thought we settled down and played very solid defense in the second quarter. Long Island went 20 minutes without scoring a goal and that was the key to the game," Cottle said.
Attackman Danny Glading scored two goals and assisted another for the Bayhawks, who narrowly outshot the Lizards 36-35. Chesapeake was without ace face-off specialist Alex Smith, who is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, and that hurt. Long Island's Greg Gurenlian won 19 of 25 draws while working against Adam Rand.
"The good news is that we didn't give up any goals off face-offs. Also, the stats are a little misleading because we got a lot of those balls back before Long Island got into its offense," Cottle said. "I thought everybody played good tonight, but not great. It feels good to be 1-0 and we will work hard next week to get better."
Veteran midfielder Brian Langtry scored four goals while goalie Drew Adams made 15 saves to lead Long Island.
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