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Florida Launch Beat Bayhawks 20-19, Break Franchise Win Record – Climb to Third Place With 3 Games Left!

Game recap via the Launch web site  
Author’s Note:  (We’ll cover Casey’s Retirement Ceremony separately) Beat isn’t the right word, eked out is the right term.  Maybe that’s not quite accurate either.  Maybe a visual comparison of what it’s like being a Launch fan this year . . . and certainly in last night’s game might look like this:  
  What else do you call this? An 11-3 lead at the half that was . . . if we were honest, probably not quite representative of how the half went.  The team played extremely well on offense and certainly earned their 11 goals but Chesapeake certainly made it easy on defense for the Launch with their approach.  And when that approach changed to a spread out 2-man game that the defense had some trouble adapting to the goals came fast and furious for the Bayhawks as they rallied to make it a close game late in the third. The Launch offense, which barely saw the ball for most of the third quarter, was able to start to gain possessions and a few late goals in the period gave them a four goal lead going into the fourth and the Bayhawk momentum was pretty much stifled.  As the first half of the last quarter played on the Launch were able to stretch the lead to 19-13 and looked fully back in control, only to see a poor decision on a fast break lead to an odd man rush the other way and Chesapeake was off on another momentum run, rallying to tie the game with 6 points on 5 goals in pretty much no time, setting up the nail-biting final 4 minutes and when Nick Mariano drew the slide he found Dylan Molloy in front for the game winner, allowing the entire stadium . . . except for about 15 Bayhawks fans (including the Bernhardt family down from Orlando) . . . to exhale simultaneously. In this league a win is a win . . . no if’s, and’s or buts.  It certainly put the Launch in a strong position as to controlling their own destiny.  The schedule is brutal coming up, as a quick turnaround for the rematch up in Annapolis on Thursday is followed by Saturday’s home game against what will be a desperate Charlotte, and then an ending road game against a depleted Boston squad (if you missed that story you might want to catch up on it, it won’t easily go away this time).  2 wins out of the three gets the Launch to 8-6 and most likely a playoff spot.  Running the table for 9-5 could actually get the Launch a home game first round since Ohio’s last 2 games are at Denver, the team they lost to last night at home, and a home game against the Lizards that NY would have to win to get in the playoffs. Frankly, if the second half had started better and the team was able to put it away early, some more resting of players could have happened but as Coach Mariano has pointed out all year the team really hasn’t played a full 60 minutes both ways each year. The biggest takeaways from last night to me: Don’t tick off Kieran McArdle by leaving him off the US National team.  Of course if he responds like this then we should all root for tryouts every week . . . One way to shut up LaVar Ball might be to have Tucker Durkin cover Lonzo with a long pole . . . Nick Mariano had his coming out party last night and his ability to draw and feed is a welcome addition to the options. Steven Brooks had his best game of the year and his movement all night ensured others would follow suit. When the team incorporates motion this offense can score with anybody in the league. Ryan Drenner with the ball up top gives the opposing defense a look that it isn’t used to seeing. Ground balls are still an issue at times.  PT Ricci on the faceoff wing is a very underappreciated part of the team’s possession battle. The defense is very strong in one on one coverage but stills needs to work on the coordination of the switching.  In the first half they stayed compact and helped each other very well.  In the second half they got spread out and got burned for it. And finally . . .  Thank you Alec Tullet for making that last possession defense on Josh Byrne’s late shot attempt.  If the Launch do make the playoffs that very well could be the defensive play of the year. Thursday night in Chesapeake is now kind of house money, Charlotte at home on Saturday is not.  The team MUST SPLIT those two games AT WORST. True Launch fans must find a way to get to the last home game.  Playoffs are within reach and they deserve a raucous home atmosphere.  Florida fans tend to support a winner, now prove it.
  Launch Press Release Saturday night was one for the Launch record books as they took down the Chesapeake Bayhawks in an electrifying 20-19 victory, marking the first time the Launch reached six wins in a single season. With the hype surrounding the first-ever jersey retirement of lacrosse legend Casey Powell’s iconic No. 22, the Launch entered their matchup with the Bayhawks with an unwavering energy that propelled them to an 11-3 lead at the half.   “Heart and hustle was the key,” said goalie Austin Kaut. Though the Bayhawks overcame their halftime deficit to tie the game in the fourth quarter, the Launch held on, with a game winner from Dylan Molloy to solidify their close victory. “It shows a lot about our team as a whole to be able to grind it out and pull out the W,” said Coca-Cola Player of the Game Kieran McArdle.   McArdle lead the Launch with seven points (4G, 3A), besting his performance from the Launch’s last meeting with Chesapeake. Rookie Nick Mariano followed close behind McArdle with five points (3G, 2A), recording his first career hat trick. Mariano was one of five Launch players to register three goals tonight, along with McArdle, fellow rookie Molloy, Launch veteran Chazz Woodson, and fellow Orangeman Steven Brooks. Kaut was a force in the cage, keeping the Bayhawks to three goals in the first half. Through four quarters, Kaut saved 19 out of 36 goals to reach a league-best 206 saves. The Launch return to FAU Stadium for their final home game on July 22 to take on the Charlotte Hounds. For tickets, called 561-923-9067 or visit