OT Heartbreaker for Atlanta Blaze in First MLL Playoff Appearance 10/7/19

Photo Credit: Di Miller

Di Miller, MLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©

The No. 4 Seed Atlanta Blaze (8-9) appeared in their first playoff game in franchise history and would face the No. 1 Seed Chesapeake Bayhawks on Friday October 4, 2019.  The 2019 MLL Playoffs and Championship game would be held in Denver Colorado for the first time in the 19 year history of Major League Lacrosse and the weather was perfect.

The fans got to see some of the best lacrosse this season as the Blaze did not go away without a fight.  In fact, they gave the Bayhawks a run for their money.  Although Chesapeake jumped out to a two goal lead in the first, Atlanta would go onto outscore them 9-4 by the end of the first half stunning the Bayhawks sidelines who needed to regroup and figure out what they were doing wrong.

We spoke with Atlanta Head Coach Liam Banks before the start of the game and he sounded confident in his team’s abilities in going up against Chesapeake and they had their game plan set.  It was working for the first 30 minutes.  What many had said, including us was that the Blaze needed to put up a full 60 minutes of quality lacrosse if they wanted to win.  What seemed to work in the first half, they failed to carry over into the third quarter as the Bayhawks would outscore the Blaze 6-1 to tie the game at the end of three at 10 apiece.

With 15 minutes remaining in the Atlanta season, it was Do or Die.  The Bayhawks had the lead 13-11 with five minutes on the ticker.  Atlanta would score twice more to tie it up off a loose ball and wound up scoring after a wild scramble in an unsettled situation. Phipps was forced to come out of the cage to defend midfielder TJ Comizio on the crease and he wound up scoring into an empty net with 29.6 seconds left in regulation.  The fans wanted playoff lacrosse and they got just that.  At the end of regulation, the game was tied at 13 apiece.

The game would head into OT and the Blaze would win the opening face-off and call a timeout.  Upon the restart, Blaze midfielder Bryan Cole blasted a sidearm shot at Phipps who made the save.  Atlanta would retain possession but immediately committed a turnover giving the Bayhawks possession.  Steele Stanwick would end up the hero on the night.  He’d get the feed from Nick Mariano and sent an underhand shot that hit off the far pipe and ended up in the cage at the 7:58 mark of the extra frame.  Final Score:  Bayhawks 14—Blaze 13.

“Steele was the first one to realize it was in the goal,” Chesapeake Head Coach Dave Cottle said. “Steele raised his arms to start celebrating and everyone else followed suit.”

The goal would end Atlanta’s season and send the Bayhawks to the Championship game on Sunday October 6, 2019.

GAME STATS:

Chesapeake Bayhawks:  30 SOG; 52 STOT; 41 GB; FO 16-31; 19 TO; 0-5 PP
Atlanta Blaze:  21 SOG; 34 STOT; 37 GB; FO 15-31; FO 15-31; 28 TO; 1-2 PP

GOALS:

Chesapeake Bayhawks:  Lyle Thompson (3g, 2a); Andrew Kew (3g); Steele Stanwick (2g, 2a); Ryan Tucker 2g); Nick Mariano (1g, 2a); Colin Heacock (1g, 1a); Brendan Bomberry & John Wagner each (1g apiece).

Atlanta Blaze:  Mark Matthews (3g, 1a); Randy Staats (2g, 2a); Bryan Cole, Tommy Palasek & Brendan Sunday each (2g apiece); TJ Comizio & Leo Stouros each (1g apiece).

Di Miller, MLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©

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