July 31, 2011

Nationals Dominate Bayhawks Behind Hall, Keogh, Merrill

from press releases

Scott Rodgers made 13 saves in Hamilton's 16-6 rout of the Chesapeake Bayhawks. "Everyone is going in the right direction now," Nationals coach Regy Thorpe said of his team, now 6-4 and in sole possession of second place.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Led by three goals from midfielders Jordan Hall and Stephen Keogh and a vintage all-around performance by Brodie Merrill, the Hamilton Nationals (6-4) jumped out to a commanding 10-2 lead to earn their fifth win in the last six games, a 16-6 victory over the Chesapeake Bayhawks (5-5) in front of 7,962 fans at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.

The win allowed the Nationals to remain in second place in the MLL standings while Chesapeake falls into a tie with Long Island for fourth place in the MLL standings.

"We are getting a lot of good leadership from our older guys and the young guys are really buying into it," Hamilton coach Regy Thorpe said. "Everyone is going in the right direction now and while reaching the playoffs is our goal, we want to have a good regular season.

"We haven't won anything yet though," Thorpe added. "We are going to enjoy the win tonight and get ready for Boston next week."

Attackmen Jeremy Boltus and midfielder Joe Walters contributed two goals and two assists apiece. Rookie midfielder Kevin Crowley had a goal and two assists.

Merrill, the veteran long stick midfielder, was a force on both ends of the field for Hamilton – gobbling up nine ground balls, clearing the ball effectively and dishing off three assists.

Attackman Cody Jamieson gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead with 10:20 remaining in the first quarter before the Bayhawks answered with back-to-back goals from midfielder Steven Brooks and attackman Ben Rubeor.

But, the Nationals responded by scoring nine consecutive goals to take a commanding 10-2 lead at the intermission. Keogh and rookie midfielder David Earl each scored twice during the spurt while Merrill tallied a pair of assists.

"The transition game on our end was really working in the first half," Thorpe said. "We had a lot of opportunities and the guys buried their shots. It was a really good team effort, especially in transition from defense to offense."

The Bayhawks ended a 20-minute scoring drought in the opening minute of the third quarter when midfielder Brian Carroll scored off a feed from Brooks, trimming the deficit to 10-3.

However, the Nationals scored three straight times to extend their advantage to 13-3 with 1:18 left in the third period. After rookie attackman Jeremy Boltus scored off a feed from Merrill, Hall upped the Nationals' advantage to 12-3 with an unassisted goal. Midfielder Joe Walters extended the cushion to 13-3 with his second goal of the game off a feed from Crowley.

After Hall scored off a feed from Boltus to give Hamilton a 14-3 lead just under four minutes into the fourth quarter, the Bayhawks ended another lengthy drought with consecutive goals from attackman Danny Glading and Carroll, cutting the margin to 14-5.

But, the Nationals used goals from Keogh and Hall to put the game out of reach for a 16-5 advantage with 5:48 left.

"We obviously didn't show up to play tonight and they did. It was a bad performance all-around," Chesapeake head coach Brendan Kelly said. "We were sloppy and they made us pay for every mistake we made tonight. We turned the ball over something like 17 times, and whenever you do that you're in trouble."

Glading added his second goal of the quarter to close the gap to 16-6, but the Bayhawks were unable to get any closer.

Merrill, who leads all MLL defenders with 11 assists and 15 points, earned Bud Light Player of the Game honors.

"As valuable as Brodie is on the field, he is just as valuable in the locker room," Thorpe said. "He really has the guys believing and buying into what we want to do."

Carroll and Glading each scored two goals for the Bayhawks, who have lost four of their last six games.

The Nationals outshot Chesapeake by a 42-34 margin and had a 44-34 advantage in ground balls.

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