The game was in the hands of Stephen Peyser. With the Chesapeake Bayhawks on the verge of blowing a five-goal fourth quarter lead during its home opener against the New York Lizards at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, head coach Dave Cottle drew up a play for the former Johns Hopkins midfielder and hoped for the best.
He lucked out. With 8:29 remaining in sudden death overtime, Peyser's shot trickled past Lizards goalie Drew Adams and into the goal to give his team a 12-11 victory.
Peyser, a former Lizard, was acquired by Chesapeake in January after New York traded him to the Ohio Machine in November.
"Coach said 'Dodge left and roll back right, and the middle of the field is going to open up," Peyser said Cottle told him before the game's final possession. "That's exactly what happened. I was lucky to bury that goal."
The Bayhawks outshot the Lizards 31-28 on the night, but were dismantled 39-24 on ground balls and lost 19 of 26 faceoffs to New York specialist Greg Gurenlian.
But the defense held up. Led by defender Jesse Bernhardt, the Bayhawks held New York's duo of former Tewaaraton Award winners, Rob Pannell and Ned Crotty, to just four points.
Bernhardt, an assistant lacrosse coach at Maryland, scrambled from Byrd Stadium after the Terps victory over Navy to Annapolis and found himself in the starting lineup.
"It was a long day," Bernhardt said. "After a rough weekend last week with how Maryland lost and then losing again with the Bayhawks, I was really looking forward to getting back on the right foot."
Bernhardt's presence was felt on more than just the defensive end.
Just five minutes into the game, Bernhardt took a pass from teammate Matt Abbott and powered through the heart of New York's defense, sticking a shot past Lizards goalie Drew Adams for his first-ever goal in Major League Lacrosse.
Against Boston, seven of Chesapeake's nine goals came from attackmen. But early on, the Bayhawks midfielders and defenders shouldered the offensive load, combining to score the team's first five goals.
New York scored the first goal of the game when Steve Mock picked up a loose ball near the crease and slipped it past Bayhawks goalie Kip Turner. Less than two minutes later, Michael Kimmel responded for Chesapeake, rocketing a two-point goal past Adams.
The Bayhawks attack finally got involved late in the first half when Brendan Mundorf scored two consecutive goals to give Chesapeake a 9-4 lead at the break.
But then New York made it interesting.
Down 10-6 in the final period, Lizards midfielder Matt Striebel fired a low bouncer that slipped through Turner's legs as the shot clock expired. Minutes later, Striebel found the net again, this time from the right win to cut the Bayhawks lead to 10-8.
With just under five minutes to play, Pannell finally got by Bernhardt and scored his second goal of the game, cutting the Bayhawks lead to one. Three minutes later, Siebald muscled himself through the Bayhawks defense and bounced a shot past Turner to tie the game at 10.
'We had stopped playing," Cottle said. "We can't let the score determine how we play, and I thought we got tired."
New York won the ensuing faceoff, got the ball to Crotty behind the cage and watched him give them their first lead since Mock's opening goal.
But when it appeared that the collapse was nearly complete, Matt Mackrides scored the Bayhawks first goal in over 20 minutes, tying the game at 11 with 31.5 seconds to play. Lizards midfielder Shamel Bratton had a chance to give his team a last-second victory, but Bayhawks' midfielder Steven Brooks hit Bratton's stick to send the shot off target and force overtime, setting up Peyser's heroics.
"I think we'll go forward after this," Cottle said. "This was a must win, because nobody wants to go 0-2 in this league. Now we have to move onto another tough game against Charlotte."