Big league arms traders descended upon the Fenway Saturday evening to show off some serious weaponry and to defend turf, bragging, and possibly title rights. The Big Unit avenged his team's embarrassing 17-1 loss to the Sox just down the street while Baltimore’s best field alchemists provided some crowd-pleasing illusions. Bud Light MVP Gary Gait made his 4g, 1a game look so effortless, while Beantown’s son Mike Battista’s 7-pt performance gave little consolation for local diehards watching their 6-2 team lose 20-17. Baltimore remains undefeated (8-0).
The Baltimore Bayhawks (8-0) used a strong second-half performance to quash any of hint of a Cannons (6-2) rebellion. Baltimore came out strong scoring four unanswered goals in the first quarter without any trace of sweat or exertion. Baltimore dominated the faceoff-x winning 23-37 balls even with Cantabene bowing out early due to an injury. The Bayhawks put on a gracious, five-minute, jedi-level clinic for the 6,217 fans, and Boston’s finest.
The outlook for Boston looked less than uncertain; it looked down right depressing. Granted Boston did have a slow start, but Baltimore seemed unstoppable. Back-to-back saves by Chris Garrity and the well-timed heroics of Boston’s native son Mike Battista shook the Cannons from their anemic stupor infusing the team with the heat of blood and the violence of a much-needed bite. Battista took his signature outside shot, a shot that he takes time and time again, but this time was able to execute when his team needed him the most, not once in the first quarter, but twice. Battista wrapped up the evening with a personal high of seven points.
The 12-8 Boston comeback was a noble effort. It demonstrated the grit that is so enmeshed in Boston’s sports culture. The short-lived lead was not a question of Boston’s ability to outplay Baltimore more that the Bayhawks seemed to be underperforming. The score reflected the respective offensive depth, defensive match-ups, and ability to possess and execute.
Boston assigned their best defender to the league’s leading scorer and was successful. Curtis limited Marechek to one assist. The problem for Boston is after you cover Marechek what do you do about Gait (5 pts), Powell (5 pts), Sonke (5 pts), Prout (5 pts), and Frye (4 pts). Staines was assigned to Gait and Passavia was assigned Powell; you do the math. The Baltimore defense was led by the incredible speed and coverage of Brodie Merrill who limited Millon to one goal. Gill and Leveille had 5 pts a piece.
Walking by a wall of players in the hallway of the gym during half time you could hear Gait open the huddle with an affirmative, “Now. On attack...” Whatever the coach and MVP said (down four goals) must have had something to it as Baltimore went on to outscore Boston 12-5 in the second half.
The game became more physical as the clock ran out in the second half with near scuffles being interrupted by refs who ironically at one point called out to the players while back-peddling, “Stop whining. You are being a bunch of whiners.” The anticipated match lived up to it’s billing with all the field antics including a fourth quarter Bayhawks-goal recall on account of a McGlone special. As for Baltimore, the team with the best record seems like they have yet to play their best game.
Baltimore started the game very strong scoring within 37 seconds. Cantabene dominated the faceoffs for the Bayhawks. The four-goal opener triggered a more aggressive Boston response with the Cannons winning the first quarter 8-6. Mark Frye scored the first goal left side hip off a soft touch behind the back pass from Gavin Prout (1-0). Powell found the inside pipe off an assist from Marechek (2-0). The short, accurate inside passing beat Boston’s ability to adjust and slide. Cantabene scored his first and last goal of the game off a fast break going high left on an underhanded shot (3-0). Cantabene received a hard hit on his way to goal. One minute later Powell found the back of the net using the screen and going low right (4-0).
The Cannons answered with a six-goal spree. Battista contributed five points. Leveille capitalized on an EMO-goal hitting the lower left corner off an assist from Battista (1-4). Fiore followed with a Minuteman-chaser tacking upper 90 on a wide-open shot (2-4). Gill is credited with the assist. Battista banked back-to-back two-point goals on bouncers from up top giving Boston a two-goal lead (6-4). Baltimore and Boston traded goals with Pfarr and Sims scoring for the Bayhawks and Fiore and Gill giving their team an 8-6 lead going into the second.
Boston outscored Baltimore 4-2 in the second quarter. Battista scored on a power-play off an assist from Gill going upper 90 (9-6). Baltimore rattled a few shots on goals hitting pipe twice. Gait scored his 26th goal of the season. Sonke sat up high and dished off to a wide-open Gait inside who spun around for an easy reverse stick (7-9). Boston came back with two goals from Glading and Gill (EMO) giving the Cannons an 11-7 lead. Sonke scored for Baltimore putting the Bayhawks within three. Leveille concluded the scoring going into the half. Battista wound up and shot from high outside. Leveille who was parked on the creased avoided the shot and snagged the rebound beating Tierney and the clock at 14:56 (12-8).
Baltimore routed Boston in the third winning 9-3. The Cannons scored twice to open the period. Millon gave Boston 13-8 lead off an assist Rotelli. Tim Byrnes passed to Leveille behind the back. Leveille hit the top left corner off the roll dodge for his 25th goal of the season (14-8).
The Bayhawks rattled off four goals in a row. Gait banked a nasty top right rip off an assist from Powell (EMO 9-14). Prout hit top right corner catching the late slide (10-14). The 23rd goal of the game was the result of another Powell-Gait collaboration with Gait capping off a seamless fast break (11-14). John Christmas scored his fourth goal of the season off a pass from Leveille off a fast break turnover (15-12). Baltimore secured their lead with five points from Sonke (2pt goal), Frye (2pt goal),and Prout giving the Bayhawks a 17-15 lead going into the last quarter.
The final quarter was the most aggressive lowest scoring period with Baltimore edging out Boston 3-2. Tim Byrnes scored for Boston on a low right shot at 2:21 putting Boston within one goal. Baltimore banged out two more goals from Frye and Prout. Battista got his last goal of the game after being clocked in the head (17-19). Gait scored the last goal at 8:22 going high left (20-17). Baltimore scored again but the goal was taken away on account of an illegal crosse. Baltimore pulled it wide as the clock timed out. Final score Baltimore 20 Boston 17.
Baltimore Wins Showdown 20-17