Connor Kelly chats with young fans after Atlanta’s 9-6 loss to Chesapeake
Each week on the NPR show “It’s Been a Minute”, the host asks his guests to summarize the week in
three words. Applying that exercise to the first half of Saturday’s MLL game between the Chesapeake
Bayhawks and the Atlanta Blaze and those words would be: Chippy. Sloppy. Defense. Frankly, the
second half wasn’t much better.
After nearly 11 scoreless minutes, Chesapeake scored first on a rip from Steele Stanwick who got the
clean look off a pass from Myles Jones. Atlanta picked up the equalizer with 1:11 to play and the period
ended tied at one.
Although it was still characterized by turnovers and poor shot selection, compared to the first quarter,
the second was a veritable offensive explosion. The Blaze carried the momentum from their late first
quarter goal and scored twice to take a 3-1 lead with 10:59 to play in the half.
The Bayhawks responded with three consecutive goals of their own as Stanwick sandwiched his second
and third goals around a score by Matt Danowski. All four Chesapeake goals were assisted. Niko Amato
had a solid half between the pipes notching six saves on nine Atlanta shots. Amato’s play and the late
spurt helped the Bayhawks to a 4-3 halftime lead.
The third quarter was generally more of the same – turnovers fouls and poor shot selection – especially
on the part of the Bayhawks. Twice during the quarter Chesapeake had not just an extra man
opportunity but had a two man advantage. They failed to get a shot on goal both times.
Meanwhile, Chesapeake’s defense was mainly reliant on the play of Niko Amato who added four more
saves to his first half total on his way to 15 for the night. However, even Amato wasn’t stout enough to
fully overcome Chesapeake’s fouling. Atlanta scored on a pair of EMOs one at the end of the third and
one early in the fourth to take a 6-5.
The Bayhawks’ response was almost immediate as Stephen Kelly won the face off and went straight to
goal scoring in just six seconds and tying the game at six. Chesapeake extended the lead to 8-6 on back
to back goals by Ian McKay and the fourth by Stanwick the third time he scored on an assist from
Danowski. Josh Byrne scored with 59 seconds to play to provide an insurance goal and wrap up the 9-6
win in front of an announced crowd of 3,947.
Chesapeake has now won five consecutive games and improves to 6-2 on the season and are tied for the
top spot with Dallas pending the outcome of the Rattlers’ game with Ohio Sunday night. The Bayhawks
won’t play again until after the All-Star game. Their next game will be Monday, July 2 when they host
the Boston Cannons in a six p.m. face off.