MLL: Bayhawks Spoil Nats' Stadium Opener
from staff reports
TORONTO -- Midfielder Brian Vetter scored a career-high four goals and was named Bud Light Most Valuable Player to lead the Chesapeake Bayhawks to a 25-12 blowout of Toronto, the defending Major League Lacrosse champions.
It was the Nationals' opener in the new, improved Lamport
Stadium, drawing nearly 4,000 fans.
Vetter scored all four of his goals on determined drives to the goal – beating a short stick defender from behind the net then scoring on spectacular jump shots. The second-year player out of Towson University product scored three goals on midair shots that hit the back of the net before he landed in the crease.
“Early on I was dodging too much and getting double-teamed. (General manager) Spencer Ford told me to just make one dodge and go to the goal,” Vetter said. “We inverted and I was able to get underneath my man. They weren’t sliding from the crease at all so I was able to get all the way to the goal.”
Perennial All-Pro midfielder Kyle Dixon also scored four goals and dished off two assists for the Bayhawks, who raced to a 10-2 lead and never looked back in improving to 2-0. Dixon scored a 2-point goal on a sidearm crank shot and now has 20 for his career – one shy of the franchise record held by Mark Frye.
Peet Poillon contributed three goals and three assists as Chesapeake continues to get tremendous production out of its midfield. Poillon and Dixon have now combined for 25 points in two games.
Faceoff specialist Alex Smith was the catalyst as Chesapeake completely took over the game in the final 10 minutes of the first quarter, shredding the Toronto defense for eight straight goals. Attackman Ben Rubeorscored both his goals while Smith got two assists directly off draws during the run.
Poillon then scored just 15 seconds into the second period to give Chesapeake a commanding 10-2 lead. Midfielders Ben Hunt and Alex Buckley along with attackman Danny Glading scored two goals apiece for the Bayhawks, who outshot the Nationals 37-24.
“I’m very pleased. We came out with a lot of energy today and I thought we played real smart lacrosse,” Bayhawks head coach John Tucker said. “We were doing a good job of controlling possession and wearing Toronto down. I think their defense got a little tired.”
Smith, a former first team All-American out of Delaware and member of the United States National team, showed why he’s the best faceoff man in the game by winning 34 of 39 on Saturday. Toronto was without top faceoff specialist Geoff Snider and had no answer for Smith, who routinely won the draws outright to jump-start the offense.
“To have a weapon like Alex Smith is just huge because when you score you usually get the ball right back,” Tucker said. “Alex was phenomenal once again.”
Chesapeake scored three 2-point goals with midfielder Ben Hunt providing the most impressive one. Hunt came out of the box, took a feed and unleashed an absolute cannon blast of an overhand crank shot that whistled past the left ear of Toronto goalie Doc Schneider.
A total of 10 different players scored goals for the Bayhawks, whose revamped offense has been nothing short of explosive so far. Chesapeake has now accumulated 41 goals in two games with almost everybody getting into the act. Matt Abbott had a goal and an assist while Jordan Levine added two assists and both midfielders played extremely well between the lines in terms of getting ground balls and clearing.
“It’s all about being unselfish and staying balanced. Guys are keeping their heads up and moving the ball, which is all we need to do because this team has so many great shooters,” Vetter said.
Goalkeeper Chris Garrity made 13 saves to anchor another outstanding effort by the defense. Close defenseman Michael Evans held Toronto star attackman John Grant to one goal while running mates Ray Megill and Joe Cinosky performed similar lockdown jobs on Dan Dawson (one goal) and Kevin Huntley(no goals).
“Chris is making some clutch saves so far this season. Whenever teams have tried to get on a run, Chris has come up with a big save to stop the momentum,” Tucker said. “We have a big, strong, athletic close defense that is smart and communicates well. We made some mistakes in transition and off faceoffs, but I thought our six-on-six defense was excellent.”
Midfielders Josh Sims and Mark Steenhuis both scored two goals to lead Toronto (0-2). Schneider stood tall in the face of an onslaught of shots, making 15 saves.
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