(Boston, MA) Short of going to Stockholm in December, coach, player, and MVP Gary Gait was nothing less than perfect during the MLL Championship Final in front of an audience of 6,829. The depth of Baltimore supporting cast enabled Gait’s freedom to create and execute. Cantabene was as venomous as ever winning 20-27 at the face off X. The Bayhawks defense of Merrill, Zink, Nadelen, Cook, and Tierney played more as a unit than the Lizard’s defense, and offense for that matter. Long Island lacked value-added off ball movement and succumbed to the fever of the iso.
Last year Greg Cattrano fired up his Philadelphia defense to capture the title over Boston. One year later, a new uni, same post-season position, and Cattrano and crew would be a title and trophy short. Despite his best efforts to rouse defensive accord with a few spectacular saves and brief post-goal banter, the Lizards defense lacked the communication, cohesion, and execution that were reflected in the Baltimore defensive huddles. While the Baltimore defense played well, the Long Island offense made things easier by going for more readable moves to goal, opting to ignore and failing to set up the next pass.
By contrast, the aristocratic attack men for Baltimore showed the poise and finesse of their bloodlines and little mercy to their opponents. Baltimore assembled a seamless end-to-end game that didn’t seem to surprise anyone, including themselves.
The starting match ups were Polanco, McCabe, and Gagliardi for Long Island against Powell, Gait, and Marechek respectively. On the other end of the field, Zink, Cook, and Merrill for Baltimore squared off against Miller, Massey, and Goettelmann respectively. Baltimore out shot and outscored the Lizards 16-11 and 3-1 in the first period.
Cantabene faced off against de Villiers with Baltimore coming up with possession.
Gait was the first to get on the boards at 3:58 going lefty and throwing an excessive amount of fakes before finally taking Cattrano stick side (1-0). Jalbert responded for the Lizards ripping the righty sidearm nailing the right pipe at 5:25 (1-1). Powell scored his fourth post-season goal with an inside roll and turning topside for a sidearm shot that cleared Cattrano’s hip (2-1).
Meanwhile Long Island would squander possession with an assault of iso’s from X. Both teams seemed a bit rushed and not capitalizing on the clock. Sonke scored the last goal of the period as he went lefty working it around waiting for Cattrano to step off the pipe before sending the ball low stick side at 14:56 (3-1).
Baltimore padded their lead in the second period out shooting and out scoring the Lizards 15-9 and 7-2. Gait scored his seventh post-season goal and kicked of a four unanswered goal spree. Cook looked to Gait who then dipped lefty to get inside low and got the left hand skip low to high (4-1). Gait cut in and received from Prout on the run and shot lefty behind the hip (5-1).
Powell followed working his defender to mid field beating him low going for the roll dodge shot (6-1). Pfarr scored for Baltimore and Berger scored unassisted. Tierney came up with the big save and the sloppy clear which Berger came up with the rebound and shot off the side (2-7). Baltimore got another pair of goals from Marechek (Curry) and a power play goal from Sims (Powell) 9-2.
The Lizards finally put together a smooth sequence off transition from Jalbert to Berger and then to Goettelmann to finish (9-3). Baltimore wrapped up the second period scoring with a goal from Curry. Merrill’s ability to maintain good defensive positioning that disrupts the attacker’s center of balance prevented yet another good look on cage. Baltimore gained possession and Curry muscled the ball in and managed a face dodge and a sidearm bouncer that hit the right pipe (10-3).
Long Island and Baltimore locked horns in the third going 3-3 with Baltimore out shooting the Lizards 10-7. Defensively, the Lizards did not seem to be communicating effectively and relying on Cattrano’s handy work in the net. Miller scored the first goal off a loose ball from Goettelmann (4-10). Goettelmann scored of a draw and dump from Denihan going off stick side hip (5-10).
Just as the Lizards started to chip away at the Baltimore lead, the Bayhawks bank two more shots from Cocchi and Gait. Cocchi went coast to coast off a grounder turnover and shot low (11-5). Sims passed off to Gait for his ninth goal of the tournament (12-5).
Massey scored his third goal of the tournament off a turnover going down lefty off the roll dodge one handed through Tierney’s dime hole (6-12). Gait punctuated the period with a lefty behind the hip stick side shot at the buzzer off an assist from Sims (13-6).
The Lizards opened the final period strong with two goals from Haugen. The Lizards came up with a huge sideline save off the clear with Haugen finishing lefty off the pipe (7-13). Haugen exploited a rare defensive error from Merrill as Merrill uncharacteristically over played Haugen and Haugen finished with a lefty bouncer (8-13). Gait score his 11th and last goal of the tournament and game of a low bouncer (14-8).
Long Island was called for unsportsmanlike conduct. Powell scored from Marechek cutting in from X and banking the underhanded off stick shot (15-8). Miller scored the last goal for Lizards at 14:52 unassisted. Final score Baltimore 15 Long Island 9. Gait, Powell, and Sims led the Bayhawks with 6, 4, 3 points while Goettelmann, Berger, and Miller with 3, 2, 2 for the Lizards. This is the second in four attempts that the Bayhawks have defeated the Lizards. Gary Gait is the first player win 3 MLL titles.
Baltimore Bayhawks vs. Long Island Lizards
|Long Island Lizards||5-9|