Capitals fall to Lighting in Round Robin shootout

By Harry Lichtman/The Sports Pulse Contributor

Courtesy Photos/Washington Capitals

WASHINGTON — With NHL hockey back after a four-and-a-half-month absence, the Washington Capitals entered the 24-team postseason expansion as one of the top four seeds in the Eastern Conference.

Along with the Capitals, the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Philadelphia Flyers are the other three teams participating in the seeded round robin tournament format to determine the top four Eastern Conference teams’ final seedings.

On Monday, Washington played its first actual game since March, as they faced the Lightning in a very competitive hockey game, with the match needing a shootout to settle the difference as Tampa Bay won 3-2.

“At the start, we tried to set the tone,” said Capitals star winger Alex Ovechkin. “We played off our lines to play physical. Obviously, we didn’t get lots of chances, but we tried to find our way.”

The match involved solid puck play and goaltending from both teams, as the Lightning struck first at 7:08 in the first period when Nikita Kucherov fired a shot from the left circle into the top right corner of the net past Washington goalie Braden Holtby.

Washington Captials goalie Braden Holtby attempts to make a save during a match against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday. Courtesy photo.

Tampa Bay then took a 2-0 lead with 12:12 left in the second period when Mitchell Stephens deflected the puck into the net off an assist from Ryan McDonagh.

Late in the period, the Caps began to rally back when a long shot and a couple of bounces landed the puck deep in the crease and in front of the net, as Richard Panik was able to tip the puck in before Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy could cover it up.

Then with under a minute left in the middle frame, Washington defenseman Dmitry Orlov fired a shot from the point that bounced through Vasilevskiy’s legs to the side of the net, with Evgeny Kuznetsov right at the doorstep to knock the puck in to tie the game up at 2-2.

The third period involved many scoring chances, but tough defense and goaltending resulted in the contest remaining tied at 2-2 at the end of regulation.

While the best-of-five qualifying round is the same format as playoff overtime, the round robin OT is the same format as regular season overtime, with a five-minute three-on-three OT period and shootout if necessary.

Both two teams couldn’t settle it in five minutes, which led to a shootout. Washington had a golden opportunity to win it on a Jakub Vrána breakaway, but Vasilevskiy stopped his shot.

T.J. Oshie scored the first goal of the shootout for the Caps, but when Kucherov and Brayden Point added two tallies for the Lightning. Nicklas Backstrom needed a goal to keep hope alive and couldn’t, resulting in the 3-2 loss.

One crucial stat for the Capitals that may have hurt their chances was suffering from 13 giveaways, while the Bolts only had five.

Despite this, Washington outshot Tampa Bay by the count of 33-28, while Holtby looked strong in net as he notched 26 saves.

“We weren’t expecting perfection in this game,” said Holtby. “But the important part is I think the first part of the periods, they got some action and we didn’t panic, and we were ready to shift.”

The Capitals’ next Round Robin matchup will be Thursday, August 6th, when they face the Metropolitan Division rival Flyers.

Wizards falter against the Pacers, Warren shines

By Brooks Warren/The Sports Pulse Contributor

Courtesy Photo/Washington Wizards

WASHINGTON – Despite scoring in double-figures again (20 points), and pulling down 11 rebounds, Washington Wizards center Thomas Bryant with assistance from Jerome Robinson (17 points) attained another loss.

The Wizards ultimately fell to 0-3 in the bubble following a 111-100 decision to the Indiana Pacers on Monday.

Just two nights after scoring a career-high 53 points Saturday in a victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, T.J. Warren followed up with 34 points and 11 rebounds in the win.

University of Virginia grad Malcolm Brogdon had a masterful performance as well (20 points, seven rebounds, six assists). Aaron Holiday and Myles Turner (nine rebounds) scored 17 points apiece.

Despite having trouble getting into a rhythm offensively, the Wizards showed off the resiliency that’s become their trademark since the contests regained their significance.

The case was evident with Robinson coming off the bench and not hesitating to shoot while creating his own opportunities. As his minutes rose, so did his confidence.

Troy Brown was a prime example too, rising to the occasion when given the opportunity. The third-year guard stuffed the stat sheet once again with 10 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, and as a reward, was placed at the point guard spot down the stretch.

Washington Wizards guard Troy Brown in action during a match against the Indiana Pacers in Orlando, Florida on Monday. Courtesy photo.

“I think we were down 13 or 14 points with five minutes and (we) just wanted to get a different look,” Washington Wizards Head Coach Scott Brooks said. “Thought it was good, we played with a lot of desperation.”

The same thing occurred with Bryant, who is shooting the ball well and isn’t thinking twice about making his defender pay when they sag off him. Operating at a high level offensively, he’s also engaged defensively, who blocked three shots and altered many others at the rim.

“That energy is what we need,” Brown said. “He’s out there being vocal and just being Thomas Bryant, that’s what everybody knows him as and so to see him out there playing well and being the player he is, I think we’re all happy to see that. At the end of the day, we just gotta come out and win games, make sure we’re doing our jobs.”

All these factors contributed to the Wizards being able to hold a 38-31 lead in the second quarter. The only issue was not having an elite go-to scorer like Bradley Beal or a floor stretching sharpshooter like Davis Bertans (the Wizards top two scorers).

Indiana reeled off a 20-2 run, but Robinson stopped the bleeding with a 16-foot pull-up jumper to give Indiana a one-possession lead. However, Indiana wasn’t finished scoring eight more unanswered points and using that momentum to carry a nine-point lead going into the second half.

“I would say it’s more so of the communication side of things,” Brown said. “At the end of the day, we’re all NBA players and (the Pacers) aren’t running any crazy offense or anything ridiculous and so at the end of the day we gotta communicate and make sure we know when we’re switching and just having each other’s back is the biggest thing.”

It was more of the same for Indiana, who had a dominating 16-point quarter from Warren. That boost wasn’t met without any resistance as Washington clawed it’s way back to 68-66 deficit after Bryant knocked down a 3-pointer with 5:25 left in the third quarter.

After Turner responded with a dunk of his own after slipping past three defenders, Ish Smith (12 points, four assists) committed a costly turnover that sparked a 10-0 run; eight points coming from Warren.

That sequence included an and-one fadeaway from Warren, who converted despite hand fighting with Robinson, who was draped all over him.

Warren’s push helped the Pacers gain a 20-point edge going into the final quarter, but the resilient Wizards weren’t done fighting.

Once again, Washington climbed it’s way back from a double-digit hole in the second half after Robinson drilled another mid-range pull-up jumper to make it 102-93.

Robinson tore through the Pacers defense in the final quarter, scoring 16 of his 17 when it mattered the most.

“We got to get some shots to fall consistently,” Brooks said. “We don’t want just a guy taking shots. We want a guy making shots, and he’s going to have to start making them,” Brooks said. “I like him getting good looks, he’s moving, he’s hustling, scrambling. Some of these shots are going to have to fall; otherwise, we’re going to have to do some other things.”

As always, the Pacers had an answer, relying on stifling defense and some clutch offense from Brogden and Holiday to close the game out.

Washington looks to rebound tomorrow at 4 p.m. when they play the 76ers. The Pacers win puts them just a game behind the Miami Heat for the fourth seed, with their next game coming up Tuesday against the Orlando Magic.

Atkins’s 22-point performance leads the way as Mystics cruise past the Storm

By Demetrius Dillard/The Sports Pulse Contributor
Courtesy Photo

BRADENTON, Fla. — An early-season faceoff between the 2018 and 2019 WNBA champions was a glimpse of what some expect to be a possible 2020 finals matchup.

Washington Mystics forward Ariel Atkins recorded 22 points, a game-high performance that included five 3-pointers, to lift her team to an 89-71 victory over the Seattle Storm on Thursday at IMG Academy.

The result was special for Atkins, who said she felt good leading the Mystics to the win on her 24th birthday.

“It feels good to be playing down here right now, especially what we’re playing for. Especially having Breonna Taylor’s name all over our season,” Atkins said. “It just feels good to put her spotlight on and for people to be watching us, and to be seeing her name all the time.”  

With the return of 2018 MVP Breanna Stewart and star point guard Sue Bird from injuries last season, the Storm will likely contend for another title run this season. Despite missing multiple stars, Washington’s strong start to the season has raised its expectations for postseason success.

Myisha Hines-Allen continued a strong start to the season, contributing with 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists to help the Mystics remain undefeated at 3-0 this season. Guard Lelani Mitchell had team highs in assists (six) and steals (four) in addition to 12 points. 

The Mystics got off to a superb start offensively, connecting 10 of 16 field goals in the first half to take a 21-14 lead after the first that blossomed to a 50-32 advantage at halftime. 

The Mystics’ largest lead of the evening came when Mitchell found Hines-Allen for an easy layup, expanding their advantage to 25 points (69-44) with about three minutes to go in the third.

Washington remained efficient in transition and held its ground defensively to maintain the comfortable lead in the second half on its way to the 18-point victory. 

While the Storm outrebounded their opponent 38 to 36, they committed 18 turnovers to Washington’s nine.

Forward Emma Meesseman added 10 points, five boards and four assists while Aerial Powers poured in nine points, eight rebounds and four assists for the Mystics.

Bird was held to only five points on 2 of 7 shooting from the field, while Stewart registered 15 points and 10 rebounds as the Storm (2-1) picked up their first loss of the season. Sami Whitcomb had 11 points off the bench for Seattle.

“They’re (Storm) a really good basketball team, they have really high IQ – especially defensively, so I was really proud of our offense tonight,” Atkins said. “And defensively, I’m really proud of what we did. I think we can be a really good defensive team if we stay solid and don’t foul.”

Washington will aim to continue its early-season momentum as it returns to action Saturday at 6 p.m. against Kahleah Copper and the Chicago Storm.

WCAC reschedules all fall high school sports to January

By Brooks Warren/The Sports Pulse Contributor

WASHINGTON – The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) is rescheduling its upcoming fall sports season to January 2021, becoming the latest interscholastic athletics association to be impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Commissioner Stephen Colantuoni said he met with athletic directors of member schools multiple times since March, coming up with different plans to resume athletics once schools reopen. Colantuoni said the goal was to come back with their full slate of fall sports, including football, soccer, cross-country field hockey, volleyball and tennis.

However, as time wore on and the continued spread of COVID-19 across the metropolitan region, the decision was made to hold off playing during the fall. The plan discussed during a meeting with the heads of schools last week, according to Colantuoni. 

“We held off for as long as we could,” Colantuoni said. “The biggest problem we have is we play in two different states and the District of Columbia, and we have seven jurisdictions, and every one of them is different.”

The WCAC is comprised of 13 private schools and must adhere to local guidelines regarding outside and indoor gatherings during the pandemic. As private institutions, they are not obligated to adhere to any public school system guidelines and can act independently in terms of having athletic competitions on school property.

The league will be monitoring restrictions placed on its schools across their jurisdictions and the feasibility of moving all fall athletics to early 2021. It will, however, consider playing a conference-only schedule, Colantuoni said.

“We made a commitment to our kids,” Colantuoni said. “That we are going to try as best we can to get a season in some time down the road. That’s the whole thing; our athletics are second to none.”

Colantuoni also stated the conference is focus on assuring all its student-athletes an opportunity to play this upcoming school year.

“Our spring sports, they got beat last (season), and they didn’t get to play at all,” Colantuoni said. “So that was really difficult for them, so I don’t want to do that two (seasons) in a row.”

The conference’s decision comes after multiple school districts and associations elect to reschedule or cancel their athletic programs.

Both District of Columbia State Athletic Association and the Virginia High School League made plans to move their fall sports to February 2021. However, Montgomery County Public School canceled their fall and winter seasons and Prince George’s County Public Schools’ athletics are postponed during virtual learning.

Moving the season to the spring can become problematic because college football prospects can enroll early and leave before the start of the season. Other possible concerns include the physical health of senior athletes who plan to enroll during the summer months will be entering workouts weeks after concluding a spring football season.

Powers nets career-high 27 points as Mystics defeat Sun

Mystics get the best of Connecticut Sun in rematch from the WNBA finals 

By Demetrius Dillard/The Sports Pulse Contributor
Courtesy Photo

BRADENTON, Fla. — Washington Mystics guard Aerial Powers scored a team-high 27 points, and Myisha Hines-Allen totaled 16 points and eight rebounds to lead the defending WNBA champions to a slim 94-89 win over the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday night.

Emma Meesseman added 12 points, eight assists and six boards while forwards Ariel Atkins chipped in with 16 points to help the Mystics improve to 2-0 on the season.

Powers, a fifth-year player from Michigan State, and Hines-Allen got the Mystics off to a strong start as they took a 26-20 lead at the end of the first quarter.

However, DeWanna Bonner led the Sun’s comeback as they chipped away at Washington’s lead throughout the second. Bonner sank a deep 3-pointer with just under four minutes left in the first half to give Connecticut its first lead. 

In Washington’s next possession, Powers responded with a long-range 3-pointer from the left wing to help the Mystics reclaim the lead. However, Connecticut went on a 13-7 scoring run to take a 52-48 lead at the break.

To open the third, Washington got out in transition as Hines-Allen and Powers continued to produce on the offensive end, helping their team recapture the lead with three-and-a-half minutes remaining. Heading into the fourth, the Mystics held a 76-71 advantage.

Guard Essence Carson hit a corner 3-pointer off a feed from Hines-Allen, and Powers drilled another left-wing 3 to kick off the fourth quarter as Washington rebuilt a double-digit lead early on. The Mystics’ largest lead of the night, 88-73, came off of a breakaway lay-in by Hines-Allen with 5:52 left in the game.

The Sun didn’t surrender, though they were down 15 points with time ticking away. They forced multiple turnovers and went on a 7-0 run to close the gap to 88-80. Late 3-pointers by Jacki Gemelos and Bonner, along with a layup by Natisha Hiedeman, brought Connecticut within two points, 91-89, with about 1:40 remaining.

With a chance to tie the game, Bonner missed a fall-away jumper and a layup. Washington grabbed both rebounds and converted free throws to seal the win.

Bonner led Connecticut with a game-high 29 points with nine rebounds and five assists. Alyssa Thomas played a crucial role for the Sun, recording 28 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. With the loss, the Sun dropped to 0-2 to start the season. 

En route to the big win, Washington connected on 17 of 21 free throws (81%) and capitalized on 19 turnovers by the Sun. Powers was 10 of 14 shooting from the field, including 4 of 6 from beyond the arc. 

Washington hopes to continue the win streak as it faces the Seattle Storm at 6 p.m. on Thursday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

Wizards Notebook: Washington releases TV, radio schedule

By Brooks Warren/The Sports Pulse Contributor
File Photo

WASHINGTON – Washington Wizards’ games during the resumption of 2019-2020 regular season will be broadcast through their regional television and radio partners.

Coverage of the three exhibition games followed by the eight seeding games will be broadcasted live on television through NBC Sports Washington (NBCSW). WGL Washington Wizards Radio Network will provide live audio of every game as well, with WFED 1500 AM distributing the Washington, D.C broadcast.

Both broadcasted the Wizards’ first two exhibitions against the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers. Washington will take on the Los Angeles Lakers in their final exhibition game before its first seeding game on Friday against the Phoenix Suns.

NBCSW will also broadcast a live one-hour show before and after each of the seeding games. The station’s live coverage, including pregame and postgame content, will be available to stream on the MyTeams app and NBCSportsWashington.com.

Dates and times are posted online on the team’s website.

Wizards release social justice t-shirt

In another step to their calls for social justice, the Monumental Sports and Entertainment Foundation announced the release of a line of limited edition social justice t-shirts in partnership with When We All Vote.

The shirt, featuring the team’s D.C. logo with a raised fist, was first seen during s joint protest with the WNBA’s Washington Mystics on June 19 or “Juneteenth.” According to the press release, the t-shirts represent the need to spread knowledge to the ongoing battle against police brutality and encourage voter turnout for future elections. 

During the march, Wizards’ leading scorer Bradley Beal said the closed fist symbol represents the team’s solidarity in fighting for issues citizens care about together. 

“Whenever we get selfish, and out of our ways, coach always puts up five fingers to show as individuals, there’s no power. The same applies for us in the everyday world,” Beal said. “There is power in unity. There is power in strength.”

Monumental said proceeds from shirt sales during July will be donated to When We All Vote programs in the metropolitan area. When We All Vote, created by former First Lady Michelle Obama in 2018, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing voter participation in elections through strategic partnerships to reach Americans. 

Shirts can be purchase in adult sizes small through double extra-large for $28 on the team’s website. 

As 2020 season begins without her, Mystics’ Natasha Cloud fights for social reform

By Demetrius Dillard/The Sports Pulse Contributor
Courtesy Photo

WASHINGTON – Over the past two months, Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud has emerged as one of the leading sports figures advocating for social justice amid growing national unrest.

As part of her ongoing commitment to social reform, Cloud said she would forego the 2020 WNBA season. The team’s all-time assists leader will instead add her name to a growing number of professional athletes who will sit out their respective seasons over either health concerns or pursue activist efforts.

The 6-footer said on her social media platforms that her decision to opt-out was for a cause that is bigger than basketball.

“This has been one of the toughest decisions of my career, but I will be foregoing the 2020 WNBA season,” Cloud said. “There are a lot of factors that led to this decision, but the biggest one is that I am more than an athlete.

Without Cloud and several other key players, the Mystics will start their season on Saturday with 10 players. In response to her decision, Mystics head coach and General Manager Mike Thibault said that the team supports Cloud’s decision. 

“Her commitment to social justice issues is of utmost importance to her and, therefore, to the Mystics organization,” Thibault said. “We will continue to be partners with her and all of our players on their commitment to social justice reform as we go forward into this season and beyond.”

On Juneteenth (June 19), Cloud protested alongside several of her teammates and Washington Wizards players in a march from Capitol One Arena to Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. She said in multiple interviews, social media posts and in marches in D.C. and Philadelphia that she values her platform as an athlete-activist during this time in U.S. history.

Also, Cloud made history as the first female ever to sign a shoe deal with Converse. The company acknowledged Cloud’s story on The Players’ Tribune, published shortly after the death of George Floyd, and her social justice advocacy as the primary reason the company decided to sign her. 

“Cloud is known for extending her influence through leadership efforts that place emphasis on being a voice for the voiceless, specifically using her platform to speak out against the racial injustices that are killing Black people in America, while also advocating for equality for women and the LGBTQ+ community and working to guide youth in her communities,” Converse said in a statement.

“As with all members of the Converse family, our goal is to serve as both a canvas for their creative vision and to spark progress in their communities. We look forward to amplifying her voice for the causes she believes in and will keep you updated on our community efforts following our recent commitment.”

All the acclaim for Cloud, a native of Broomall, Pennsylvania, is coming after she averaged a career-best 9 points and 5.6 assists in 2019 to help the Mystics to their first WNBA title.

Despite her career progressing forward, Cloud said there is more critical now than ever before to get involved in social causes.

“I have a responsibility to myself, to my community, and to my future children to fight for something that is much bigger than myself and the game of basketball,” Cloud said. “I will instead continue the fight on the front lines for social reform because, until black lives matter, all lives can’t matter.”

Nationals announce 30-man roster for 2020 shortened season

By Arthur Cribbs/The Sports Pulse Contributor
Photo Credit: Washington Nationals Twitter

As the Washington Nationals opened the regular season on Thursday and Saturday against the New York Yankees, the defending champions released their 30-man roster.

Given the 2020 season adjustments, the Nationals will allow 30 players on the active roster through the first two weeks of the season. The rosters will trim down to 28 players, and after another two weeks, the team will drop to 26 players for the remainder of the season.

Starting Pitchers:
Max Scherzer
Stephen Strasburg
Patrick Corbin
Aníbal Sánchez
Austin Voth

Starting pitching will serve as the strength of the Nationals roster, primarily with the three-headed monster of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin. The trio combined to win 43 games with a 3.18 ERA as a group.

Anibal Sanchez and Austin Voth round out the rotation, with Erick Fedde as another option to fill in as a starter.

Joe Ross was expected to fill in as a starter before deciding to opt-out of the season.

Relief Pitchers:
Sean Doolittle
Daniel Hudson
Will Harris
Javy Guerra
Tanner Rainey
Erick Fedde
Kyle Finnegan
James Bourque
Ryne Harper
Sam Freeman

The late-inning combination of Daniel Hudson and Sean Doolittle highlights the Nationals bullpen. Hudson reinvented his career with Washington, posting a 1.44 ERA with the team after being acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays last July.

Catchers:
Kurt Suzuki
Yan Gomes
Raudy Read

Veterans Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes will split duties behind the plate. Both players provided offensive value, hitting double-digit home runs in 2019. Catcher Tres Barrera was initially listed on the 40-man roster but will serve an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. 

Infielders:
Eric Thames
Starlin Castro
Trea Turner
Asdrúbal Cabrera
Carter Kieboom
Howie Kendrick
Wilmer Difo

Trea Turner and Starlin Castro will provide the offensive sparks atop the Nationals lineup and above-average defense up the middle.

After spending the past three years with the Milwaukee Brewers, Eric Thames signed with the team in January and will play first base. He will be filling the void left by Matt Adams, who joined the Atlanta Braves, and Ryan Zimmerman, who opted out of the 2020 season over health concerns. With the loss of Anthony Rendon to the Los Angeles Angels in free agency, Carter Kieboom will need to take his game to the next level.

Howie Kendrick will carry the load in the middle of the lineup as the projected designated hitter.

Outfielders
Victor Robles
Adam Eaton
Michael A. Taylor
Emilio Bonifacio
Andrew Stevenson

The absence of Juan Soto is the glaring hole on the Nationals roster. The 21-year-old outfielder is recovering after testing positive for COVID-19 hours before Opening Day. The team is hoping for his return after he completes all the quarantine protocols.

Chesapeake Bayhawks’ scoring spree knocks out New York

By The Sports Pulse Staff
Photos by Pretty Instant/Major League Lacrosse

In their second game of the 2020 season, the Chesapeake Bayhawks struggled to get things going with their offense but stayed composed to produce six straight goals in five minutes, propelling them to a decisive 18-13 victory over the New York Lizards.

In what is becoming a trend, the Bayhawks stumbled out of the gate, allowing the Lizards to strike quickly and gain a 4-0 lead behind a hat trick from Dylan Molloy and another goal from Nicky Galasso.

Colin Heacock opened the scoring for the Bayhawks with 41.4 seconds left in the first quarter, to put them on the board, and Andrew Kew mirrored that 20 seconds later to make it 4-2 going into the second quarter.

July 19, 2020: Chesapeake Bayhawks’ Lyle Thompson (left) attempts to drive towards goal during MLL action between Chesapeake Bayhawks and New York Lizards in Annapolis, Md. Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre/Pretty Instant/Major League Lacrosse

Starting the second period, Isaiah Davis-Allen converted on a transition goal to cut their deficit to one, and Chesapeake took control from there.

The Lizards went cold in the second quarter, allowing Chesapeake to course correct. Great ball movement and team play yielded the Bayhawks a 9-6 lead going into the half, with Nick Mariano scoring two goals.

One of the biggest factors that gave Chesapeake the win today was ball movement and working as a team to score eight unanswered points.

CJ Costabile’s two 2-point goals were the game-changer in today’s game. It gave Chesapeake a seven-point lead with 6:00 minutes left in the third quarter, and the Lizards struggled to find momentum after that. Costabile also notched an assist to finish the day with five points.

While Brian Phipps struggled early to contain the Lizards offense, he finished the day with 16 saves and was an important factor in getting Chesapeake back on their feet.

Despite 2019 MVP, Lyle Thompson struggling to connect with the goal, shooting 3 for 12, and Andrew Kew cooling after his red-hot game on Saturday, the Bayhawks were an all-around offensive force, with nine players logging points for the team.

“The best thing about this team is that everyone plays a role, and the next man’s gotta step up if you have some injuries going on,” Costabile said. “Early on, we were a little bit sloppy in transition. Being one of the older guys, I feel like I need to take some responsibility on that and get the boys going. Faceoffs we had a little bit of injuries today, but the next guy steps up.”

Molloy looked like the Lizards’ saving grace in the forefront of the game, but a poor shooting performance after the first quarter let the Bayhawks’ team-based offense push a strong lead going forward.

After Chesapeake secured their big lead, the Lizards scored three straight goals in three and a half minutes, but it was not nearly enough to recover.

While this was the second straight win for the Bayhawks, there is no time to slow down in this abbreviated season. In what is sure to be an ongoing factor, heat and fatigue played a key role in today’s game, as cramping and exhaustion were a notable hindrance to performance.

July 19, 2020: Chesapeake Bayhawks players CJ Costabile (left) and Lyle Thompson (right) celebrate during MLL action between Chesapeake Bayhawks and New York Lizards in Annapolis, Md. Photo Credit: Jamal Cooley/Pretty Instant/Major League Lacrosse

With a matchup against a tough Boston Cannons team on the horizon, the Bayhawks must be quick to adapt and overcome if they want to repeat their title. Recovery will play a vital role in how to how this team can finish the season.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Costabile said. “So you gotta really be able to take care of yourself and I think that’s what we’re doing.”

Kew’s 7-point performance pushes Bayhawks to first win

By The Sports Pulse Staff

Photo: Pretty Instant / Major League Lacrosse

ANNAPOLIS – On a sweltering July day that marked the opener of the 20th anniversary Major League Lacrosse season, the Chesapeake Bayhawks looked comfortable playing on their home turf as they defeated the Philadelphia Barrage 16-11 Saturday night.

The Barrage took control of the game early, seizing a 2-0 lead by 10:53 in the first quarter. The first goal of the 2020 MLL Season was an unassisted strike by Tommy Palasek.

After falling behind early, the Bayhawks scrambled to stop the bleeding. The tide began to turn when Andrew Kew snagged two goals, getting the team some momentum.

Nate Solomon took a big hit in traffic near the end of the first quarter while still managing to make the play and score for the Bayhawks. The first quarter ended tied 4-4.

While Philadelphia set the pace in the early minutes of their return outing, the defending champion Bayhawks were quick to adjust, turning what appeared to be a blowout into a punch-for-punch shootout.

Unsurprisingly, both Barrage and Bayhawks played a scrappy game, full of big hits, collisions, and taunts. Four months of cooped up energy hit the field with force. Despite this, there was little sign of rust present on the roster. Aside from the occasional dropped ball, Chesapeake was sharp, precise, and focused as they readjusted to the physicality of the game.

After the first three quarters, neither team had held a lead for an extended period. Both teams entered the fourth quarter with ten points on the board.

Kew was the saving grace of the day, shooting perfect from the field, accounting for 7 of the Bayhawks points, including one 2-point goal.

While his presence was felt from start to finish, in the fourth quarter Kew was an omnipresent offensive force for Chesapeake, turning the tables and unleashing a barrage of undefendable shots against Philly to gain a 16-11 lead and clinch the opening game.

“We went down early, and we kept believing,” Kew said. “We had a long time off, everybody, and we knew it was eventually going to come. We got the ball and we were able to come back and eventually take a good win to start here.”

Solomon and 2019 MVP Lyle Thompson logged three goals each. Ryan Keenan snagged two and Luke Anderson and Shane Simpson both got one.

The Bayhawks struggled in the faceoff by a large margin of 11 to 20, all thanks to Alex Woodall of the Barrage keeping a strong grip on the challenge, facing off in all 31 of the game’s head-to-heads.

While the Bayhawks were able to rely on Kew’s perfect game to secure the first win of the season, there is no doubt that head coach Tom Mariano and the players saw where work needed to be done if they are going to secure another title.

Adjustments and preparation were the names of the game, as what looked like an uphill battle quickly turned into a cage match.

“Our coaches and our players bought into us pre-game and really did a great job preparing for this game, and I thought as we weathered some punches that preparation paid off,” Mariano said.

If lessons are to be learned, they will have to be expeditious. The Bayhawks take the field again against the New York Lizards on Sunday.