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Toronto To Meet Denver In Championship Game

August 22, 2009 - Major League Lacrosse (MLL) News Release

Annapolis, MD.- Neither rain nor lightning could stop the Toronto Nationals from clinching a spot in the MLL Championship game. After a five goal scoring streak that sent the Lizards past the Nationals early on, the league's newest team defeated the Long Island Lizards 14-13 to advance to the Championships where they will face the Denver Outlaws tomorrow at 1:00 P.M.

Lizard midfielder Stephen Berger opened things up, scoring off of an assist from Matt Danowski at 2:31 into play. Toronto then answered with two goals beginning with one by the player of the game, Joe Walters, that went in and out of the goal behind Long Island goalie Brian Dougherty before Delby Powless got on the board to make it 2-1. Following the Toronto lead, the Nationals went on a five-goal run. After another mark by Berger, a settled Lizard attack was finally able to convert a powerplay goal with 3:28 left in the first as Stephen Peyser netted one to get back in the lead 3-2. Chris Fiore scored next off an assist from Berger to close out the quarter. Face-offs went entirely in Toronto's favor in the first quarter as Geoff Snider won all of his three attempts to keep possession. Despite the wins, Toronto's numerous penalties gave Long Island's offense the advantage as they scored three of their four goals in the quarter on powerplays to push past the Nationals 4-2 before the quarter was through. The face-offs could have ultimately been the deciding factor as Snider went 17-for-30 at the X, while Long Island's Pete Vlahakis won 13. Long Island's Sean Lindsey opened up the second quarter scoring an unassisted goal before Tim Goettelmann got on the board with a pass from Blake Miller to make it 6-2. Before long, Toronto defenseman Brodie Merrill scored on an unassisted play to make it 6-3 with just over two minutes left in the half. #22 goal at 14:01 in the second to make it 5-2. Lindsey then scored again for Long Island after he took his man one on one from the top weaving in and out before shooting on Doc Schneider from close range to put the Lizards up by four. Schneider, who usually splits time with Brett Queener, played the whole game stopping seven shots. Toronto rookie Brad Ross took it upon himself to try and close the scoring gap when he caught a pass from Powless for a two-point sniper.Then, Merrick Thomson notched an unassisted mark as he pummeled through the Long Island defense, diving for a goal to bring the Nationals within one point 7-6. With 1:37 left in the half, Matt Zash came down the field, hurling himself and the ball into the goal for a point. Seconds later, Keith Cromwell clinched another unassisted mark for the Lizards to make it 9-6 at the break. Before a storm delay held off the game for just over 30 minutes, the Nationals and the Lizards played an even quarter, scoring two goals apiece. Danowski got on the board with the first goal of the half before Snider and Thomson each scored a goal for Toronto. Just as the weather worsened, Berger scored for the Lizards to make it 11-8. Coming out of the delay in the pouring down rain, the Nationals wouldn't let Hurricane Bill stop them from making it to the championships. With just over three minutes left in the third quarter, Merrick Thomson came in for a shot off a pass from Powless to make it 11-9. Long Island's Peyser answered seconds later to regain the three-point lead to finish out the quarter. As the Long Island defense attacked the Nationals' offense like a swarm of bees, Toronto's Walters, who ended with a hat trick, made a statement, opening the fourth quarter with two back-to-back goals before Jeff Zwicki got on the board off of an assist by Brodie Merrill to tie things up at 12-12. Shawn Williams then got a goal with over seven minutes left to play to move ahead to 13-12 over the Lizards.

Danowski came around the crease with under four minutes to play for an underhand goal that tied it up yet again at 13-13. As the rain poured, the lightening held out as the nail-biting contest continued with another Toronto goal from Thomson who scored off of a deflected save from Dougherty's stick to seal the deal for the Nationals, making the score 14-13. Despite Dougherty's 13 saves, the Lizards weren't able to get past the Nationals for the win.

Be sure to tune in to ESPN2 tomorrow, Sunday August 23 at 1 PM ET for the 2009 MLL Championship Game.

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