July 24, 2009

MLL: Walters Scores, Toronto Clinches in OT

from press release

In a tense battle for one of the three remaining Major League Lacrosse playoff spots, the Toronto Nationals edged the Boston Cannons in a thrilling 18-17 overtime victory.

Toronto's Merrick Thomson was chosen as the game's Bud Light MVP, scoring five goals and three assists for a total of eight points, leading all scorers on the night.

Paul Rabil scored five goals including two deuces for a total of seven points, leading the Cannons' scorers.

Thomson, the winner of last week's Two-Point Contest at the MLL's All-Star game, continued to showcase his marksmanship by scoring the match's first goal.  He then added an assist to his evening's total by feeding Delby Powless across the goal-mouth.  Powless made no mistake, picking off the top-right corner of Boston's goal to give Toronto a 2-0 lead.

Paul Rabil, the man with the MLL's hardest shot, scored from beyond the two-point arc to tie the game 6:16 into the first quarter.

Attacker Jeff Zywicki scored his 16th goal of the season to give Toronto a 3-2 lead, however two minutes to go in the quarter, Rabil scored again, knotting the game at three each.  Matt Casey scored a minute and a half later to end the quarter with a 4-3 Cannons' lead.

The Boston barrage continued in the second quarter as attacker Matt Alrich converted a Sean Morris pass to make it 5-3 and midfielder Matt Poskay scored a power play goal just past the five minute mark to improve Boston's lead to 6-3.

Nationals newcomer Brad Ross responded for the Nats before Boston then scored back-to-back goals, from Brandon Corp and Ray Megill, to establish an 8-4 lead.

Shawn Williams kept Toronto in the game, working a give-and-go with All-Star Joe Walters and Toronto's crisp passing continued to pay off, as Thomson capitalized on a Zywicki feed, making it 8-6.

Morris replied with an unassisted goal forty seconds later, slowing Toronto's progress and ending the half at 9-6.

Rabil's booming shot started the second half with a two-point goal, giving Boston a five point advantage.

The sticks of both teams fell silent for the next five minutes, until Rabil scored his fourth goal of the game.  

A streaking Williams made it look easy as he fired a shot into an almost entirely open net, to shorten Boston's lead to 12-7.  Toronto struck again, with Thomson scoring his third goal of the game, making it 12-8.

The Cannons' scored three consecutive goals to stake themselves to a healthy 15-8 lead.

Nats' attacker Zywicki took advantage of an extra-man advantage, and scored a power-play goal 12:24 into the third.

At the end of the quarter, Boston held the lead, 15-9.

Although things looked grim for the home team, Toronto came roaring into the fourth quarter.

Ross scored his second of the game for Toronto, a blast from a few steps inside the two-point arc, starting the final frame at 15-10.  He was followed by Thomson, who scored his fourth of the game, and Powless who added his second goal on the evening.

Walters fought through Boston's defence to tally one himself and attackman Zywicki earned a hat trick and suddenly, Toronto was back in the game, 15-14.

Boston's Rabil broke up the eight minute long streak by the Nationals with a long-range snipe that made it past goalie Doc Schneider, making it 16-14.

Thomson replied with his fifth of the night to keep Toronto within one and Walters capped the big quarter for the Nationals, tying the game with a looping shot that pushed the energized BMO Field crowd over the edge.

Corey Small became the hero of the night, scoring his first goal of the season and giving Toronto a 17-16 lead.  With just under four minutes left in the game, Small's go-ahead goal gave the Nationals their first advantage since the first quarter and brought the 3,542 in attendance to their feet.

The elation lasted two and a half minutes, when Boston's Kyle Sweeney tied the game at 17.  Both teams' defence held on for the rest of the quarter, taking the game into sudden death overtime.

Boston's Sean Morris took a costly penalty, giving Toronto an important extra-man.

When play re-started, the ball came to Joe Walters who took careful aim, and sent the crowd into a frenzy as he ripped the ball into Boston's net for the overtime winner.

Brodie Merrill, the over-time hero of the MLL All-Star Game, played tough defence all night.  Along the way, he collected three ground balls. Face-off specialist Geoff Snider, the MLL's Defensive Player of the Week, won 14 of 35 draws, and picked up six ground balls.

The Toronto Nationals (6-5) now join the Denver Outlaws as the second team securing a playoff spot for Championship Weekend in Annapolis, Maryland on August 22-23. The Nationals play their last 2009 regular season game on Saturday, August 8 at 7:00 p.m. against the Denver Outlaws at BMO Field. 

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