May 22, 2009

Toronto's Thomson on Point Again in Win

from press release

TORONTO - Merrick Thomson earned the Bud Light MVP honours after scoring three goals and an assist, leading the Nationals to a historic 15-11 win over the Chicago Machine in Toronto's inaugural home opener at BMO Field on Friday night.

Thomson's three goals were a team high on the Nationals (2-0), while attacker Colin Doyle's two goals and two assists led Toronto on points.

Thomson's performance picked up where he left off last week, when he scored seven goals against the Washington Bayhawks and was honoured as the MLL's Offensive Player of the Week.

 Draw specialist Geoff Snider was the Nationals catalyst on offence dominating on face-offs, winning 20 of 30 while adding a goal and an assist.

Attacker Kevin Leveille led the Chicago Machine (1-1) and all players with six goals. His brother Mike had two goals and an assist.

Head coach Dave Huntley is pleased with the Nationals season thus far.

"Hopefully, if we get a little better every week and just keep getting slightly better than by the end of the season we'll probably be a pretty good team," said Huntley before the game.

The evening began with the Toronto Fire's Pipe and Drum Band welcoming the teams on to the field. After team introductions, the Six Nations Smoke Dancers performed in the face-off circle to honour lacrosse's First Nations heritage.

The game started with Thomson opening scoring just two minutes into the first catching a sharp pass from Jeff Zywicki and flipping it into the net with a neat no-look shot.

That lead was short lived as Kevin Leveille and Chris Rotelli scored a minute apart to give Chicago the 2-1 edge.

Roger Vyse had a historic moment when he fired a shot in from 14 metres out, just inside the two-point line. The score was the first ever goal for an Iroquois player on the Toronto Nationals and gave the hometown team a 3-2 lead.

Thirty seconds before the end of the first quarter, Iannucci scored on midfielder Jordan Hall's pass to stake the Nationals to a 4-2 lead

Toronto lengthened their lead in the second quarter, with National Lacrosse League MVP Dan Dawson scoring his first goal of the field season 4:35 into the frame.

Kevin Leveille quickly responded for Chicago two minutes later with his second of the game to bring the Machine within two.

Just 37 seconds later Gait pushed off his defender, and placed a crisp shot in to the net to expand the Nats' lead to 6-3.

Zywicki had a sharp play of his own as he worked close to the crease, faked high and shot low to make the game 7-3 for the home town team.

Mike Leveille replied a minute and a half later to make the score 7-4 at the end of the half.

The first three quarters of the game were relatively quiet, with Toronto building an 8-6 lead.

However, with two-and-a-half minutes left in the third, Toronto scored five goals in rapid succession. Thomson, Gary Gait, Athan Iannucci, Doyle, and Thomson again quickly rattled off markers to make it a six point difference.

Toronto's 5,144 fans grew louder and wilder as the Nationals offence became more rambunctious.

Machine midfielder Jarrett Park's back-to-back goals to start the fourth quarter weren't enough to quiet the crowd or the Nationals' sticks, as Dan Dawson replied with a goal of his own to make it 13-8.

Dawson, the reigning National Lacrosse League MVP, earned his marker off of a pretty feed by Doyle who was clearly enjoying the attention from the hometown crowd.

Snider scored all on his own after winning the draw and running directly for Chicago's crease. In an acrobatic dive, he tossed the ball over goalkeeper Mike Gabel and gave Toronto a 14-8 lead.

Attacker Doyle worked off the pass from Thomson and put in the goal to make it 15-8 for Toronto.

Brothers Kevin and Mike Leveille scored the last three goals of the game for the Machine, but they were unable to overcome Toronto's lead.

The Toronto Nationals season continues next Friday, May 29th at 7:30 p.m. when they host the Long Island Lizards at BMO Field.

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