BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - Baltimore is earning the right this summer to be called the Most Valuable City.
Just a few weeks after Cal Ripken belted a home run in his final All-Star Game to earn MVP honors, the Bayhawks' Mark Millon was voted the Most Valuable Player after the inaugural Major League Lacrosse Star game.
Millon and the Bayhawks' Dan Denihan led the National Division to a 24-18 win over the American Division last night before a sold-out crowd of 5,462 at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard.
"This is a great honor," Millon said after getting two goals and two assists in the third quarter en route to three goals and four assists for the game. "The crowd was really into it tonight. We fed off that energy. A lot of guys played well and could have won this award. But we played hard and it was a lot of fun."
A combination of sloppy passing by the losing team and the outstanding first-quarter goaltending of the Bayhawks' Greg Cattrano threatened to quickly sink the Americans as the Nationals rolled to a 5-0 lead.
The New Jersey Pride's Jay Jalbert scored three goals in the first period, and the Bayhawks' Josh Sims and Millon also scored as the Americans' Bill Daye (Boston Cannons) had fits handling a barrage of National shots. The Americans' defense also struggled against the Nationals' transition game, led by an aggressive Cattrano.
Cattrano helped the National squad push the ball down the field repeatedly during much of the first half. He even had a good chance at a goal from the crease off a feed from Dan Denihan, only to be leveled by a hard cross-check from the Long Island Lizards' John Gagliardi.
The game was close to getting away from the Americans by the end of the first period, but a terrific head fake from Long Island's Gary Gait followed by a blistering, left-handed shot with 40 seconds to play in the quarter helped keep the game close.
The second quarter was almost the opposite of the first as the Nationals' defense collapsed and the Americans, led by the Cannons' Dave Evans, wrested the momentum.
The enthusiastic crowd, the first MLL selloutof the season, was treated to a two-point goal from Evans with 9 minutes to play in the first half, putting the Americans ahead at 9-8.
Cattrano has had difficulty stopping two-point shots for much of the season and the Nationals' defense looked listless as the Americans went into the second half with a 13-10 lead.
But the Nationals responded with seven unanswered goals in the third quarter and Maryland graduate Brian Dougherty's fine play in goal allowed the Nationals to take command of the game for good.
The Bayhawks' Dan Denihan finished the job for the Nationals. He fed Rochester's Jake Bergey with a pretty pass with 7 minutes left to put the Nationals ahead 16-13, and followed that by punishing goalie Brian Carcaterra of Long Island with three consecutive goals late in the fourth quarter to wrap it up.