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Nationals Fall to Chesapeake in Semifinals

August 24, 2013 - Major League Lacrosse (MLL) - Hamilton Nationals News Release

(August 24, 2013)... The Hamilton Nationals fell to the Chesapeake Bayhawks 13-12 this afternoon in the Major League Lacrosse Semifinals. The defending champion Bayhawks used a 5-1 fourth quarter to advance to their third title game in four years. It was a tough loss for Hamilton, who returned to Championship Weekend after winning a team-record nine games in 2013.

"We just came up a little short. It's disappointing, especially being in Philly. I would have loved nothing more than to go to the finals for all the fans that came out and supported me. Falling short stings," said Crowley, who plays in the NLL for the Philadelphia Wings.

The 2013 MLL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year finished the game with two goals and one assist. His second goal of the contest staked the Nationals to a 12-10 lead with 10 minutes to play. The Bayhawks, however, rallied for three straight goals to edge the Nats by one with Mike Kimmel (3+1+0) scoring the winner with 1:25 to play.

Hamilton entered the final quarter on a 4-0 run to take an 11-8 lead. Joe Walters, who had five points (2+3), powered the Nats to a late run in the third as he connected at 11:23 and 12:02 to give Hamilton a 9-8 lead. The performance was typical from the MLL assist leader and Nationals' all-time leading scorer.

"I am so proud of the way Joe Walters played today. He was just fantastic," said Hamilton Head Coach Dave Huntley. "And our young guys played well. It was a great game. We're playing a sport and people come to watch it, and I'm particularly pleased with the level of respect their team has for us and us for them. I wish them luck tomorrow."

One of young players that shined today was Josh Amidon, who notched two goals. His second of the game was part of Hamilton's 4-0 run. It was followed up 13 seconds later by a goal from Brodie Merrill. The goal by the eight-time All-MLL Team defenseman gave the Nationals their biggest lead of the contest. Despite the three-point cushion, Huntley knew the game was far from over.

"They weren't going anywhere and either were we," he said of a game that featured six ties. "They made a couple more plays at the end then we did."

Chesapeake got within one early in the fourth on back-to-back goals by John Grant Jr. (2+1) and Drew Westervelt (2+0). Crowley netted a goal at 5:25 from Walters to give Hamilton a 12-10 advantage. The Bayhawks and goalie Kip Turner (14 saves) blanked Hamilton the rest of the way, while Kimmel scored two of the final three goals of the game.

Nationals' goalie Brett Queener took the loss, despite making five stops in the fourth quarter to finish with 13 saves. Kevin Cunningham and Martin Cahill each recorded two goals and one assist.

The Bayhawks opened the game with a two-point marker from Kimmel at 4:02. The patient Nationals began chipping away at the lead and mounted a 5-1 run. When Amidon scored at 7:34 of the first, Hamilton was finally on the board. Crowley tied the contest with a behind-the-back goal from 10 yards out. He then setup Cahill's man-up goal for Hamilton's first lead of the game at 14:40.

The Nationals regained the lead in the second after Ben Hunt tied the game for the Bayhawks. Kevin Cunningham (2+1) took a Walters' feed in the slot, elevated and ripped a shot past Turner at 3:15. Cahill struck again, in his second career playoff game, to give the Nats a 5-3 advantage. Cunningham netted the team's third man-up goal in the second quarter to put Hamilton in the lead 6-4 at 10:48. With that goal, the Nationals' tied their playoff record for man-up goals set in 2009. Yet, the defending champs rallied with late goals by Grant and Westervelt to send the game into halftime tied at six.

"It was an even, hard-fought game, back-and-forth. You could tell that it was going to come down to a few last possessions, and a couple of goals went against us," said Merrill. "Ultimately, they made the plays when they had to, though, and hats off to them. They're a great team. It should be a great Championship."

Chesapeake will now play the Charlotte Hounds, who advanced to their first MLL Finals after handing Denver its first loss of the season, 17-14. Sunday's Championship Game, presented by Smartlink, is set for 3:00 p.m. at PPL Park in the Philadelphia Area.

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