August 27, 2011

Quinzani Goal with 1.2 Seconds Left Lifts Boston

by Matt DaSilva |

Rain-soaked Max Quinzani celebrates his game-winning goal Saturday. It came with 1.2 seconds left to lift the Boston Cannons to a 14-13 victory over the Chesapeake Bayhawks at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

© John Strohsacker/

MLL Semifinal Saturday

* Five Things to Watch in the MLL Championship Game
* Hamilton Sends Denver to Another Early Exit
* Quinzani Goal with 1.2 Seconds Left Lifts Boston
* MLL Championship Weekend Played Through Hurricane Irene

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Boston Cannons are one game away from ending their 10-year curse. Playing in the path of Hurricane Irene, the top-seeded Cannons erased a five-goal deficit to defeat the fourth-seeded and defending champion Chesapeake Bayhawks, 14-13, in the Major League Lacrosse semifinals Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

New England product Max Quinzani scored the game-winning goal with 1.2 seconds remaining, taking an errant feed from Ryan Boyle off the waterlogged turf and stuffing it between the legs of Bayhawks goalie Chris Garrity.

"Ryan caught the ball and I just yelled, 'Force it.' He was looking at me. He couldn't get any oomph on it because he was wrapped up," Quinzani said. "It took a skip and I just corralled it, turned and shot as quickly as I could."

Boston (10-3), the lone remaining original MLL team without a championship, will play the Hamilton Nationals (8-5) for the Steinfeld Cup at 3 p.m. Sunday (ESPN2). The Cannons, who have made the playoffs in nine of the league's 11 seasons, will play in the championship game for just the second time in franchise history and for the first time since 2004.

"I grew up being fan of the Cannons when they were at Lowell and then Boston University and now at Harvard," said Boston third-year midfielder Mike Stone, a two-time Division III All-American at Middlebury and product of Wellesley (Mass.) High School. "Not winning a championship is something we talk about a lot. I wouldn't say because I watched them growing up that I want to win it more, but I'm here now and we want it as a team, so it just gets me fired up."

Quinzani, who finished with three goals and an assist, said he saw the clock ticking as he moved backward toward the goal without the ball. "I knew how much time there was," he said. "It was either OT or a bad shot."

Overtime would not have been a surprising outcome, considering the high drama of playing lacrosse in an area under a state of emergency. Chesapeake trailed 13-9 with 5:11 remaining but seemed to surge as the weather worsened. After midfielder Steven Brooks pulled the Bayhawks within three, line mate Kyle Dixon (3g, 1a) scored the game's only two-point goal to make it 13-12 with 2:24 left.

Chesapeake regained possession and called timeout with 59 seconds remaining. The Bayhawks reversed fields on the restart to give midfielder Ben Hunt (1g, 3a) — the hero of last year's semifinals — a one-on-one with Boston short-stick defensive midfielder JJ Morrissey. Hunt got a step on the left alley, tiptoed inside, switched to his right hand and stuffed the tying goal on Cannons goalkeeper Jordan Burke (14 saves) to tie the game at 13 with 37 seconds left.

Defenseman Kyle Hartzell nearly won it for the Bayhawks off the ensuing faceoff, but Burke came up with the save and the rebound kicked out towards the sideline. Hartzell retrieved it, but was pinned on the sideline and had the ball checked out of his stick and out of bounds.

Chesapeake did not have any timeouts remaining. Boston quickly transitioned the ball the other way to set up Boyle and, ultimately, Quinzani.

"We were up and down the field, and you've got to take advantage of your runs," said Bayhawks head coach Brendan Kelly. "They went up 13-9 on us, and I didn't think for a second we'd lose the game. We came back, made a great push... Kyle Hartzell [shoots], and we think the game's over. Next thing you know, you've got your head down and you're pissed off. That will be one for the books, for sure."

Chesapeake (6-7) showed no shyness in shot selection early, challenging Burke often while seizing a 3-1 lead in the first quarter. The Bayhawks' three goals came in a 67-second span, with midfielders Brian Carroll, Dixon and Matt Abbott all scoring from the left side. Dixon's shot spun Burke's stick as it ricocheted into the cage.

Bayhawks attackman Danny Glading nearly made it a three-goal lead with a nifty behind-the-back finish of attackman Ben Rubeor's lob feed, but the goal was waived due to a crease violation.

Tempers flared as the weather got nastier. The teams combined for 10 penalties in the first half, mostly of the slashing, crosschecking and unsportsmanlike variety.

Boston midfielder Matt Smalley's illegal cross check, followed six seconds later by an unsportsmanlike penalty by defenseman Jack Reid, put Chesapeake two men up midway through the second quarter. Bayhawks midfielder Dan Hardy converted on a hard shot from the left flank that caused a noticeable splash on the netting of the Boston cage, followed by another Carroll goal as the second penalty expired.

Midfielder Jeff Reynolds' goal with 5:35 remaining staked Chesapeake to a 6-1 lead it seemed unlikely to relinquish. But Boston answered with a 4-0 run to close the second quarter and, as a result, found itself down just one goal at halftime.

The run started with opportunistic goals by long stick midfielder Brian Farrell, left unguarded on the crease, and attackman Max Quinzani, whose putback on an open net brought the Cannons within three at the 1:56 mark. Boston midfielder and MLL MVP Paul Rabil got untracked 42 seconds later, blowing by Abbott and drawing no slides to score on a right-handed laser just inside the two-point line. Midfielder Brad Ross finished the Boston run — and paid for it by absorbing an illegal body check by Bray Malphrus.

That proved to be the turning point for the Cannons, who despite falling behind by two briefly in the third quarter kept the pressure on the Bayhawks by putting the ball in the sticks of its stars. Quinzani (who faked a shot to get inside one-on-one), attackman Matt Poskay (on a sweet man-up, look-away crease feed from Rabil up top) and attackman Ryan Boyle (taking advantage of the overly aggressive defense of Dan Hostetler) strung together three unanswered goals in the final five minutes of the third quarter. Boyle's marker put Boston up 9-8 with 57.3 seconds left in the third quarter, its first lead of the game.

From there, the Cannons rattled the Bayhawks with a relentless ride that started with Boyle and Quinzani up front.

"RB is an underrated rider. He's great at it," Quinzani said. "I try to scrap, and our d-middies get to the hole. They allow us to have fun down there."

It showed on long-stick midfielder Brian Farrell's open-net goal that put Boston up 11-9 in the fourth quarter. Garrity got caught at midfield with no other options. Stone dove at Garrity's blind side for a trail check to jar the ball loose. Rabil then passed up a two-point opportunity to find Morrissey, who found Farrell for the finish.

"They probably had five or six goals off our failed clears," Kelly said, "and that was the difference in the game."

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