via Launch web site
Author’s Note: This one certainly falls into the column of one that got away. After falling behind 6-2 after the first while the team was getting its’ legs back after the quick turnaround in NY they completely outplayed the first-place Bayhawks 10-2 in the second and third periods to take a 12-8 lead into the fourth. Faceoff domination, swift ball movement and off ball cutting and a lights out performance in goal by Austin Kaut and a number of solid defensive stands had put the Launch in position for a marvelous end to a week that looked on paper to be almost insurmountable. Unfortunately, Chesapeake outscored the Launch 6-1 in the fourth to steal the game. Chesapeake took advantage of possession dominance in the fourth and the margin of victory came down to two 2-point attempts in the quarter, as the Bayhawks rookie middie Myles Jones converted his EMO attempt that Kaut got a piece of but couldn’t control in the run to tie the game. In the last two minutes, while tailing by one, the Launch’s rookie LSM, Liam Byrnes, took off down the middle on a fast break and his shot from the arc crushed the post before bouncing harmlessly out. A Tale of Two Inches on both.
A highlight for the Launch was the continued growth of rookie Steve Pontrello, who came out of the game with 4 goals and an assist as his speed from GLE in particular adding a nice addition to the options the Launch have on offense. Kieran McArdle followed up his great NY performance with a 2G/4A game but Chespeake was able to keep Connor Buczek in check. Particularly in the fourth the Launch offense stagnated some as the Bayhawks were able to take away passing lanes and you might imply that the second game in 72 hours might have led to some mental fatigue more than a physical one. Chris Mattes ended up having to take about 75 faceoffs in the two games and that’s a tough nut to handle.
Henry West and Jeremy Thompson made their Launch debuts and each showed flashes of what they can bring to the table. All in all a very interesting two-game span that shows what the Launch are capable of with a full roster as the weekend showed that there were certainly more than 19 players that can contribute at the MLL level. Given another off-season draft the competition for jobs next season has certainly started already.
The Florida Launch fell to the Chesapeake Bayhawks Saturday night at FAU Stadium. Florida was led by Kieran McArdle’s six points and rookie Steve Pontrello’s four goals. The Launch are back in action Friday, July 22 to play the Charlotte Hounds.
The Bayhawks opened scoring with a three goal run before the Launch could answer back. A mad dash for the ball near the Bayhawks’ net ended with Jovan Miller benefiting from a lucky bounce to open scoring for Florida. The visitors netted two more scores before rookie Steve Pontrello took a feed from Jovan Miller for a long goal from just inside the two-point goal. Chesapeake knocked one more goal in late in the period. The Launch struggled to find much on offense early on as they trailed 6-2 in the first quarter.
Despite the slow start for the Launch, Lyle Thompson got the home team going with an impressive dodge to goal in an unassisted scoring effort. Owen Blye worked alone from behind the net on the Launch’s next possession and hit his first of the night. Pontrello found some room to score his second just before the Bayhawks ended the run. Recovering quickly from the score, Pontrello knocked home his third to record his second straight game with a hat trick. Blye extended the Launch’s hot streak as he capitalized on weak defense to tie up the game. One more goal from the Bayhawks made it 8-7 heading into halftime.
The Launch came into the second half with one of the longest scoring runs they have had all season. McArdle took advantage of the powerplay opportunity to score his second followed by goals from Miles Thompson and Pontrello. The flurry of goals continued as defensive middie Liam Byrnes took it across the midfield line to score his first career goal in the MLL. The Bayhawks had no response for Florida’s attack as they were held scoreless in the third quarter. The Launch headed into the final period of play leading 12-8.
The scoring drought for the visitors ended early in the fourth quarter as they went on a six score run. The Launch were held to just one goal by Connor Buczek during the final period of play. A two-point goal from Chesapeake during their run proved to be too much for Florida to overcome. The Bayhawks come away with the 14-13 win to stop the Launch from winning their second straight.
The Launch will return to action next Friday against the Charlotte Hounds as a makeup for the cancelled June 18 game. Faceoff is set for 7:30p.m. ET at American Legion Memorial Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina and will be broadcast live on Lax Sports Network.