The Hamilton Nationals were eliminated from the Major League Lacrosse Playoff Race following a 19-12 loss to the Long Island Lizards tonight at James M. Shuart Stadium.
Hamilton (3-8) needed to win its final four games to guarantee a playoff berth for the second straight season and third time in the franchise's four-year history. Long Island, however, ended the Nationals' postseason aspirations to improve to 7-4.
Rookie Tommy Palasek notched career highs (six) in goals and points (seven), go to along with five-point efforts from Stephen Peyser and Max Seibald. Hamilton got four goals from David Earl, three goals from Stephen Keogh and a three-point night from Joe Resetarits.
The Lizards, behind four points from Peyser, broke open the game with an eight-point second quarter to erase an early deficit. The Nationals had jumped out early as Keogh netted a first-quarter hat trick. He got the Nationals in front early with back-to-back goals just 54 seconds part. After the Lizards tied the game at two, Hamilton scored the next two goals to go up 4-2. Earl scored off a dodge down the right wing, and Keogh stuffed in a rebound with four seconds to play in the first.
Earl opened the second with his second of the game, as he broke down his defender and beat Drew Adams from in close for a 5-2 lead at 2:41. Palasek ended the 3-0 Hamilton run at 4:03, but Resetarits scored 51 seconds later as he was falling to the ground for a 6-3 advantage. Long Island was able to cut deficit to 6-5 on Peyser's two-pointer at 8:14. It was the start of six straight points in 3:53 for Long Island to take a 9-6 lead.
The rally was sparked by two two-point goals from Peyser. Matt Gibson and Seibald scored single goals in-between the Peyser tallies. Garrett Billings got one goal back at 13:10 to cut the deficit to 9-7. But Palasek closed out the first half with his second of the contest with just four seconds to go for a 10-7 advantage.
Peyser continued his impressive play with his fifth point of the game at 1:17. Seibald earned his third assist of the game on the goal, which gave the Lizards an 11-7 lead. Earl ripped a shot from just inside the arc to get Hamilton back in the game at 11-8. His tally at the three-minute mark was his third of the contest.
But tonight belonged to former Syracuse star Tommy Palasek, as he hit on back-to-back goals to give Long Island a 13-8 lead. After Hamilton cut deficit to 13-10, Long Island responded with two goals of its own with CJ Costabile and Palasek scoring to make it 15-10. Palasek then tacked on his sixth goal of the game to open the fourth quarter. His goal was part of 6-0 run to give the Lizards an 19-10 lead. Brodie Merrill ended Hamilton's 15-minute scoreless drought at 8:19. Merrill then assisted on Earl's fourth of the contest at 12:34 to make it 19-12.
Hamilton will play its final three regular season games at home. The Nationals begin the three-game stretch on Saturday, July 28th against the Denver Outlaws.
* courtesy Hamilton Nationals Lacrosse Club