The Hamilton Nationals saved their best for last, as they earned a convincing 18-8 victory over the Long Island Lizards at McMaster University.
Rhys Duch lived up to his nickname – Clutch – as he recorded a career-best five goals and seven points.
He aided the Nationals as the 10-point win tied the franchise record for largest margin of victory last set in Major League Lacrosse play in 2011. Cody Jamieson and Joe Walters also contributed with one goal and four assists each in the Saturday (Aug. 11) game.
In the first, Duch helped Hamilton answer an early goal by the Lizards’ Tommy Palasek with two goals. His first goal was part of a four-point outburst in a span of 2:08. The scoring continued as Duch notched his second of the first quarter at 9:37 for a 5-1 lead. Jamieson picked up the assist and then scored one of the top goals of the year in the second. While he was getting harassed by two defensemen, he flicked a one-handed, low underhand shot past Drew Adams for a 7-1 Nationals’ lead.
Hamilton tacked on two man-up goals, as Crowley and Brodie Merrill scored, to jump ahead 9-2. Duch then scored his third at 11:32 as he moved to the front of the net and scored off a low shot for a 10-2 lead.
The Lizards mounted a comeback at the end of the second with three straight man-up points to cut the lead in half. Kevin Unterstein netted a goal at 13:19 and Stephen Peyser connected for two with two seconds left in the half to make it 10-5.
The third quarter was a tight defensive struggle as it took 8:59 before the first goal. Stephen Keogh scored off a pass from Duch to give Hamilton an 11-5 lead. Duch then scored his fourth of the game off a pass from Walters at 13:48. The assist gave Walters a personal single-season best 45 points. Matt Dolente got in on the scoring with his fifth of the season at 14:08 to make it 13-5. Long Island ended the Hamilton run with a man-up two point goal from Max Seibald. In goal, Brett Queener made seven saves in the third as part of a 13-save night.
In the fourth, Long Island added another goal before Jeremy Thompson scored from Walters at 3:07 for a 14-8 advantage. The Nationals continued to pour it on with goals Earl, Resetarits, Duch and Walters scoring to close out the game. Hamilton ended the season with a 4-10 record.
Despite the loss, Long Island (8-6) made the playoffs after the Rochester Rattlers lost 15-14 to the Charlotte Hounds. The 2012 MLL Championship Weekend is set for Saturday, Aug. 25 and Sunday, Aug. 26 at Harvard Stadium in Boston, Mass.