May 15, 2009

Toronto Nationals Win MLL Season Opener

from press release

Toronto Nationals goalie Brett Queener carries the ball up field during Friday's 17-16, season-opening win over the Washington Bayhawks at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

The Toronto Nationals played their first-ever game to open the 2009 Major League Lacrosse (MLL) season with a 17-16 win over the Washington Bayhawks on Friday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md.

Toronto's Merrick Thomson led all scorers with seven goals. Thomson, last year's Warrior Most Improved Player of the Year, was named the Bud Light game MVP.  Rob Scherr and Brett Queener shared the duties in net for Toronto, turning away 15 of 25 shots, and 13 of 19 shots on net, respectively. Queener recorded the win for the Nationals.

Andrew Combs of the Washington Bayhawks opened scoring two minutes into the first quarter.  Last year's Steinfeld Cup MVP Joe Walters followed up with a goal for Toronto but the Bayhawks answered back with another. Brodie Merrill continued the back-and-forth scoring, evening the game at two-all less than three minutes into the game. 

Washington pulled ahead with back-to-back goals from Combs and Justin Smith.  Merrick Thomson and Geoff Snider put their own pair past Bayhawks netminder Chris Garrity, tying the game at 4-4.

The Bayhawks sunk two more past Toronto's goaltender, Rob Scherr, and then a third by Kevin Huntley on a two-man advantage before Toronto's midfielder Jordan Levine scored his first of the night bringing the score to 7-5 ending the first quarter in favour of the Bayhawks.

Jeff Zywicki opened scoring in second quarter for Toronto. Jake Byrne from Washington drained his second past Scherr, but Thomson answered back with his second of the night. Despite some solid opportunities, Toronto was unable to score again before Bayhwaks attackman Scott Urick and midfielder Kyle Dixon extended Washington's lead. The last three minutes of play remained scoreless, sending the Nationals into the dressing room at halftime down 10-7.

Thomson scored back-to-back goals for Toronto to open the second half bringing the score within one early on. Brett Queener, who replaced Scherr in net for the Nationals in the third quarter stopped many shots and went on a couple of runs before Billy Glading put one past him with just over five minutes off the clock.

Zywicki netted his second off a stellar pass from Dan Dawson to close up the gap again.  Washington's Dixon tried to hang onto the lead beating Queener in net but a solid pass from Colin Doyle to Thomson resulted in another point for Toronto.  Thomson followed up with another past Garrity, his sixth of the night to tie the game at 12. Urick and Walters continued the scoring battle to end the quarter with Toronto and Washington tied at 13-13.

Seventeen seconds into the fourth, Kevin Buchanan put the Bayhawks in the lead. Walters and Zywicki drained their third each giving Toronto their first lead of the game.  With just over seven minutes left on the clock, Washington tied it just before Thomson scored his seventh goal.  Huntley tied it up again but Levine recorded the game winning goal for Toronto scoring with 2:21 left in the game.

Washington was led by Andrew Combs with four points from two goals and two assists. Chris Garrity played all 60 minutes in net for the Bayhawks, stopping 18 of Toronto's 35 shots on goal.

The Nationals return home to open their home series of six games next Friday, May 22. when they host the Chicago Machine. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. at BMO Field.

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