Bayhawks survive, 12-11, get title shot

Cannons nearly pull off huge upset

Lizards win

September 02, 2001|By Dan Hickling | Dan Hickling,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - They can relax now. The Bayhawks did the expected yesterday and earned themselves a spot in tomorrow's inaugural Major League Lacrosse championship game.

But it didn't come easy as the Bayhawks were forced to battle for their lives before pulling out a 12-11 semifinal win over the lowly Boston Cannons before 4,762 at Kennedy Stadium.

The Bayhawks now will meet the Long Island Lizards, who slipped past the Rochester Rattlers, 13-12 in overtime, in the other semifinal.

It will pit the two best teams in the league, each with an 11-4 record.

The Bayhawks swept the season series with Long Island, 2-0.

But the Hawks came oh-so-close to missing out on the title opportunity. A plucky Cannons team with a woeful 3-11 regular-season mark and nothing to lose nearly did them in.

Only Dudley Dixon's goal with 2:50 remaining in the game took the Bayhawks off the hook.

"I almost think that their record helped them," said Bayhawks attackman Mark Millon. "If they lose, it's no big deal. If they beat us, it's a big story. I was real nervous because of that."

That story nearly played itself out.

The Bayhawks held an 8-4 halftime lead, with all signs pointing toward a rout. But the Cannons charged back to tie at 11 with 4:49 to play.

"I don't know why," said Bayhawks coach Brian Voelker. "Sometimes we get off to a big lead, then have some trouble.

"People expected us to win this game, and in that situation, if you win, it's not that big of a deal. If you lose, it's the end of the world."

The Bayhawks spotted the Cannons a 2-1 lead, then took off on a 7-2 run through the rest of the first half, and wound up with the big lead at halftime.

Paul Cantabene got them started with 9:56 left in the first period when he rifled in a shot just under the crossbar, tying the score at 2.

Greg McCavera and Jarred Testa followed by bouncing long-range shots past Boston goalie Bill Daye to make it 4-2.

After taking a 5-3 advantage into the second period, the visitors continued their roll by outscoring the Cannons 3-1 through the rest of the period.

Rob Shek closed out the first-half scoring with 4:27 remaining with a high drive.

"That was just a ... laser," said Daye.

Boston's Mike Law came up short on an opportunity to cut the lead in the final moments of the first half when he slipped through the Bayhawks' defense and got an open shot. But his try from 15 feet was parried by goalie Greg Cattrano.

However, the Cannons made up for that in the opening minutes of the third period when they scored three times to cut the margin to 8-7.

McCavera struck back with a 30-foot, spinaround shot that restored Baltimore's two-goal advantage heading into the fourth period, and the Hawks then increased the lead to 10-7, but then had to hold on as Boston scored three of the next four goals.

Then, Law's 40-footer with 4:49 left tied the game at 11.

But Dixon went airborne with a move through the crease in depositing the game winner behind Daye.

"This game was a tough game for us," said Voelker. "But we're going to the championship game. I give our guys credit, because we're playing on Monday. "We're right where we want to be."

In the other semifinal, a goal by Long Island's Paul Gait with 32 seconds gone in overtime proved decisive.

Rochester had held a 12-9 lead with less than five minutes to play, but the Lizards rebounded and tied the game with 1:16 left in regulation when Terry Riordan scored on a pass from Gary Gait.

Cannons 3 1 3 4 - 11

Bayhawks 5 3 1 3 - 12

Goals: CA-Evans 3, T.Radebaugh 3, Whiteley, Battista, Edell, Law, Doyle; BA-Marechek 2, Testa 2, McCavera 2, Dixon 2, Millon, Cantabene, Shearer, Shek. Assists: CA-Whiteley 2, Evans, Traynor; BA-Denihan 3, Doerr, Prout, Shearer, Shek. Saves: CA-Daye 19; BA-Cattrano 10.

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