The Hamilton Nationals begin a three-game home stand this weekend with the second place Denver Outlaws visiting on Saturday (July 28). The game at Ron Joyce Stadium, located on the grounds of McMaster University, starts at 7 p.m.
After the Outlaws leave town, the Charlotte Hounds come howling on Aug. 4 and the Long Island Lizards slither onto the turf at Ron Joyce on Aug. 11 to conclude the National’ season.
Going into this Saturday’s affair, Hamilton is looking for its second win in three weeks, hoping to finish the season on a high note. Hamilton, 3-8 and tied for sixth place in Major League Lacrosse, was eliminated from the playoff race following a 19-12 loss to the Lizards last Saturday.
In that game, Hamilton got four goals from David Earl, three goals from Stephen Keogh and three-point nights from Joe Resetarits (2+1) and Brodie Merrill (1+2). Keogh became only the third Nationals player to hit the 20-goal plateau in a single season. He joined Merrick Thompson (44) and Joe Walters (23), who achieved the feat in 2009.
Earl tied his career high with his four game effort. Kevin Crowley notched two assists to extend his team-high point streak to 10 games. Brodie Merrill is third in the MLL with 78 ground balls. Right behind Merrill is teammate Matt Dolente, who enters the game with 70. Dolente also ranks third in the MLL with 177 faceoff wins and stands just 19 away from breaking the single-season team record of 195 set by Geoff Snider in 2009.
With three games to play, Walters is 13 points away from passing his career high of 44 set in 2008 with the Rochester Rattlers. He is also a mere three assists away from setting a personal single-season assist mark. He would break the 20 helpers he notched last season, which is a franchise record.
In non-playing capacities the Nationals scored a couple of victories. Assistant coach Jason Johnson and director of marketing/sponsorship Stu Brown both brought back medals from the 2012 U-19 World Lacrosse Championships in Finland. Johnson won bronze as an assistant coach with the Iroquois Nationals, while Brown earned silver as the head scout for the Canadians.
Saturday’s game against the Outlaws will test the Nationals as Denver is just one game away from first place in the eight-team circuit and is riding a three-game winning streak after defeating the Boston Cannons 17-13 last Thursday night.
The Chesapeake Bayhawks currently hold down the top spot in the MLL, and can clinch a playoff spot with a win and losses by either Boston or Rochester.
Denver brings the most potent offense in the league into Hamilton. Led by superstar Brendan Mundorf and Jimmy Sieverts, the Outlaws have scored 167 goals this season. Mundorf leads his team with 24 goals and is second in the NLL with 45 points. Sieverts has 23 goals and is sixth in the league with 34 points. Denver is just as solid in goal with veteran Jesse Schwartzman raking third with a 10.87 goals-against average. He is also third in saves (134) and tied for third in save percentage (.538).
The Outlaws are also much improved at faceoffs with newly acquired Anthony Kelly taking the draws. In two games, he has won 37 faceoffs, including 23 against Charlotte, and has collected 17 ground balls.