Bayhawks fill the gaps, overtake Cannons for 20-17 victory, 8-0 mark

Gait contributes 5 points

Merrill handcuffs Millon


July 17, 2005|By Mike Scandura | Mike Scandura,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BOSTON - The Bayhawks seemed to be in trouble early in last night's Major League Lacrosse game against the Boston Cannons.

They lost the league's best faceoff man, midfielder Paul Cantabene, after he suffered a seven-stitch gash above his left eye barely four minutes into the game. Shortly thereafter, they lost midfielder Josh Sims to a hamstring injury.

But Ben Defelice filled in admirably for Cantabene, winning 19 of 33 faceoffs, and Jeff Sonke stepped in for Sims and contributed five points, including one two-point goal.

Combine their performances with a five-point effort from player/coach Gary Gait and air-tight defense by rookie Brodie Merrill on ex-Bayhawk Mark Millon and the result was a 20-17 victory.

The win enabled the Bayhawks (8-0 overall, 5-0 in the National Division) to extend their record for victories at the start of a season.

"It was a great character builder and a pretty gratifying win," Gait said. "We were down two middies and I thought the guys pulled together. We weren't playing well. But in this league, every win's a great win and to step it up and make a comeback was just a great team effort."

Comeback, indeed. When John Christmas scored a short-handed goal with 1:40 left in the third period, Boston (6-2 overall, 2-2 in the American Division) led 15-12. But Sonke's two-point goal started a 7-1 run that gave the Bayhawks a 19-16 lead midway through the fourth.

After Sonke's two-pointer, Mark Frye scored his eighth two-pointer of the season (three shy of the league record) and Gavin Prout added an unassisted goal 10 seconds before the buzzer.

The Bayhawks trumped Tim Byrnes' power-play goal at 12:39 of the fourth with goals by Frye and Prout for that 19-16 lead. Then, Boston's Mike Battista and Gait traded goals for the final score.

"It's the way we've been playing all year," Gait said. "We've been pretty good at getting on runs and keeping runs going. I think everybody felt, even at halftime [when Boston led 12-8], if we played well and did what we needed to do we could come out on top."

Defelice's play was noteworthy because he hasn't been in the Bayhawks' rotation.

"This was the second game he dressed this year for us," Gait said. "He had an outstanding game."

The same could be said of Merrill, who only a few weeks ago was still playing for Georgetown and who was assigned to shadow Millon, the league's all-time leading goal and point scorer, and held him to just one goal.

"He's obviously been doing it for so long, so the big thing for me coming in as a rookie is not to be intimidated by him and try and play my game ... play solid defense and not try to do too much, and just play within our system, as well," Merrill said.

"I thought he did an incredible job," Gait said. "Brodie plays great position defense, yet he keeps his stick all over you so you feel pressured all the time. He got into Mark's hands whenever Mark was in shooting range, and never let Mark get by him or turn the corner."

Bayhawks 6 2 9 3 - 20 Boston 8 4 3 2 - 17

1-point goals: Bayhawks, Gait 4, Prout 3, Frye 2, Powell 2, Sonke 2, Cantabene, Sims; Boston, Leveile 3, Battista 2, Fiore 2, Gill 2, Gladding, Millon, Christmas, Byrnes. 2-point goals: Bayhawks, Frye, Sonke; Boston -Battista 2. Assists: Bayhawks, Powell 3, Praff, Gait, Sonke, Marechek; Boston, Leveille 2, Gill 2, Fiore, Rotelli. Saves: Bayhawks, Tierney 19, Boston, Garrity 25.

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