July 14, 2013

Second-Half Run Leads Supernova to MLL All-Star Win

by Bill Kiser | LaxMagazine.com

Box Score | Photo Gallery | MLL Release

Mike Sawyer set a record with a 114 mph shot during the halftime skills competition in Charlotte.
© Jason Miczek

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Kevin Crowley had a feeling that the long halftime break in Saturday night's Major League Lacrosse All-Star Game wouldn't work in his team's favor.

It turned out that Crowley was right ... and the Hamilton Nationals midfielder played a big part in righting the ship for Team Supernova in its 24-15 victory over Team Eclipse at American Legion Memorial Stadium.

Crowley, named the All-Star Game's most valuable player, scored two of his three goals early in the fourth quarter, igniting a final-period run that saw Team Supernova turn what had been a two-goal lead into a runaway.

"There's so much good talent out here, you never know which way the cookie's going to crumble," said Crowley, who also had an assist in the fourth quarter. "It was just the way the flow of the game went, and we were fortunate to come out on the good side of that."

The flow of the game was going all Team Supernova's way in the first half.

Crowley scored the game's first goal less than a minute in as Team Supernova raced to a 7-3 first quarter, and Hamilton Nationals midfielder Joe Walters scored twice in the second quarter as they pushed their lead to 13-7 by the half.

But the long halftime break -- more than a half-hour because of the MLL All-Star Game's skills competitions -- gave Team Eclipse a chance to catch its breath.

"Coming out of that break's hard," said Crowley, who is second in the MLL in goals scored (29) and third in points (41). "We were a little bit slow coming out, and they were able to capitalize on it."

New York Lizards attacker Tommy Palasek scored twice in a one-minute, 45-second span early in the third quarter to kick off a six-goal run by Team Eclipse, with Boston Cannons defender Kyle Sweeney scoring with 1:42 left to tie the score at 13-13.

However, Team Supernova scored twice in a 24-second span -- the goals were by Charlotte Hounds midfielder Peet Poillon and Denver Outlaws attacker Chris Bocklet -- in the final minute of the period to put them up 15-13 heading into the fourth quarter.

After Outlaws midfielder Zack Greer scored 27 seconds into the final period to pull Team Eclipse within 15-14, Crowley went to work. Both of his fourth-quarter goals came in a 65-second span, and kicked off a nine-goal run that put Team Supernova ahead 24-14.

"It's usually pretty light in the first half," Crowley said. "Then the guys started really playing in that second half. But they say this is a game of runs, and we were able to come out on top."

No one-goal game this time

Poillon was one of the players predicting another close finish in MLL's annual All-Star Game, which had seen one-goal margins the last four years.

Instead, Saturday's game produced not only the most goals scored by a winning team as well as the largest margin of victory in the AllpStar Game since 2008, when the Western Conference won 31-15.

Since then, the All-Star Games have had significantly closer margins -- a 22-21 overtime win by the Old School team in 2009, a 13-12 win by Team USA in 2010, a 21-20 win by Team Warrior in 2011, and an 18-17 win by the Old School team last year.

"This was a rare occurence," Poillon said. "We just knew they were going to fight back at some point in the game. They made it a game there for a while in the second half, but we were able to pull away again."

One for the record books

Charlotte Hounds rookie midfielder Mike Sawyer has just seven games as a pro under his belt, but he put his name in the MLL's record book by winning the fastest shot contest at halftime of the All-Star Game.

Sawyer, who was born in Charlotte, broke a two-year old record with shots of 113 and 114 mph to end Hartzell's two-year run as fastest shot champion, and break the record of 111 mph Hartzell set in 2011.

Rochester Rattlers defender Mike Manley was second with a 110-mph shot, while Hartzell was third at 109 mph.

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