July 9, 2011

Despite Kimmel, Warrior Wins MLL All-Star Game

by Dan Hickling | LaxMagazine.com

Chesapeake's Mike Kimmel set an MLL All-Star record with nine points -- including a record three two-pointers -- but he couldn't help Team Authority, which lost a narrow, 21-20 victory to Team Warrior on Saturday night at Harvard.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The thing about extravaganzas such as the MLL All-Star game is that it's best to throw out all expectations.

Except for maybe this one: the goalies will be in for a rough night.

Such was the case Saturday night, when Team Warrior outlasted Team (Sports) Authority, 21-20, before 11,186 at Harvard Stadium.

"Everybody definitely had a good time," said Warrior starting keeper Jesse Schwartzman (Denver). "But it's tough to be a goalie in a game like this. In an All-Star game, you're going to give up a ton of goals. But this is for the fans."

An unassisted goal by Stephen Peyser (Long Island) with 2:49 remaining was the final twist in a wild contest that featured 10 lead changes.

"We were getting a little worried down the stretch," said Warrior middie Ben Hunt (Chesapeake), who was making his first ASG appearance. But we were able to hold them off."

They did despite a pair of two-pointers from Authority middie Mike Kimmel (Chesapeake), who wound up with nine points, setting a new All Star Game record and walking off with the game's Most Valuable Player honors.

"As much fun as the fans were having, so were we on the field," said Warrior attack Matt Danowski (Long Island). "We took it seriously. We were trying to win out here."

One might have guessed that from the bloodied knee of hometown Cannons' favorite Paul Rabil, who netted a pair of goals.

"Everyone wants to win," he said. "We've all got the competitive juices. That's what it came down to."

Runs were the order of the first half, which ended with Team Authority clutching a 10-9 lead.

Authority saw a 2-0 advantage dissolve into a 3-2 deficit, then watched as Team Warrior netted four straight points to take a 7-3 lead at the midpoint of the second stanza.

However, Authority closed the half with a 7-2 run.

Peet Poillon got the scoring started when he beat Schwartzman -- his Outlaws teammate -- from close range.

"I let Peet get one," said Schwartzman, tongue in cheek. "Peet's a great player. He's deceptive and crafty."

The first two-pointer of the night came from Hunt, whose 50-footer came with 3:35 gone in the second.

"I think this is a game where you show off your skills," said Hunt. "We weren't hesitant to rip. Fortunately, a lot of two-pointers were able to go in."

Hunt netted another deuce just 15 seconds into the third quarter to put Warrior up, 11-10.

That fueled a six-point run, which was helped along by a pair of Danowski unassisted goals. The second of those -- a one-handed shovel shot -- made it 16-12.

Authority closed the quarter with a 4-1 burst, however, capped by Rabil's tally with 31 seconds left to make it 17-16 heading into the final period.

That set the stage for the wild ride down the stretch.

"It was awesome," said Max Seibald (Denver), despite being on the losing side. "You get away from the 'Xs' and 'Os', and worrying about the game. You go out and have fun and play with the best guys in the world."

The skills competition was a crowd pleaser, with long pole Kyle Hartzell (Chesapeake) copping the fastest shot honors with a 102 mph blast.

The goalie gauntlet was taken by Schwartzman, who completed the five stages in 21 seconds, which he finished by crashing the crease and scoring on his Warrior teammate Joe Marra (Hamilton).

"That was fun to score," said Schwartzman. "I did a little trick shot I thought up on the fly. I went with a safe, reliable flip of the stick, and it worked."

Rabil used his home crowd advantage to take the freestyle.

With the pro-Cannons' throng solidly in his corner, Rabil drew the loudest voice votes for his behind the net jam job, followed by his hurdling of Ford Fusion hood, ending with a solid finishing shot.

"It had been a couple weeks in the planning," said Rabil, who let on that he drew inspiration from some of his basketball heroes. "It was old school and new school."

As cozy a circuit as the MLL is, it's easy to forget that its players are at the pinnacle of the sport.

For those chosen as All-Stars, the feeling is both an honor and a humbling experience.

"It gets better every time," said Schwartzman, who played in his fourth consecutive ASG. "You get accustomed to the experience and really take it in. You're not just there for the game. You're there for the whole expererience. I'm grateful to be here."

Said Hunt, "I'm very humbled to be a part of this elite group. These are the best players in the league. It was so much fun to be a part of this."

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