The Hamilton Nationals edged the Ohio Machine 14-12 tonight to stay alive in the Major League Lacrosse Playoff race. With the victory, the Nationals split the home-and-home series with the Machine. Hamilton improved to 3-7 with the win, and Ohio fell to 2-8.
The win at Selby Stadium in Delaware, Ohio was the first for the Nationals since defeating the Rochester Rattlers back on June 9th. Hamilton was led by a balanced attack that included a five-point effort from Garrett Billings, who tied his career high set on July 31, 2010.
Joe Walters and Cody Jamieson contributed with four points each, and Kevin Crowley notched three goals. Jeremy Thompson scored his first goal since May 12th and tied his career high with two goals. Scott Rodgers went the distance in goal, making 17 saves.
Thompson made the most of his opportunity as he opened the game off a feed from Joe Walters for a 1-0 lead. It was his first game since June 23rd. Walters then set up the next goal by Billings and it was 2-0 Hamilton. Two-point threat Kyle Hartzell tied the game at two with his eighth from long range at 4:44. But Crowley restored the two-goal lead with back-to-back goals just 36 seconds apart. Chazz Woodson narrowed the gap to one on a goal from his knees with 14.5 seconds play in the first quarter.
Hamilton answered seven seconds into the second quarter, as Billings scored off a Matt Dolente feed after a faceoff win for a 5-3 lead. Dolente finished with 19 faceoff wins to give him 39 in two days. He also added a career-high two assists and eight ground balls.
Billings completed the hat trick at 2:45 for a 6-3 advantage. The Machine, however, rallied to tie the game on goals by Ray Megill, Connor Martin and Joe Cummings. In the third, Cummings tied the game at 1:12 as he squeezed a shot past Rodgers.
Hamilton went back up by two, 8-6, on goals 53 seconds apart by Walters and Stephen Keogh. Walters’ goal at 5:31 got things started as he moved in front of the cage and beat Stefan Schroder from in tight. The goal sparked a 4-0 Hamilton lead. After Keogh scored, Jamieson picked off an Ohio pass and scored into the empty net at 7:01 for a 9-6 lead. Jamieson scored his second straight at 11:44 off a feed from rookie defenseman Dana Wilber. It was Wilber’s first pro point in his professional debut. Steele Stanwick scored after a Rodgers’ save at 13:26 to end the Nationals’ run.
Crowley’s third of the contest just 59 seconds into the fourth completed his second hat trick of the season and made it 11-7. Matt Casey scored a two-pointer at 4:19, but Thompson responded with his second of the game to make it 12-9 Hamilton at 5:06. Stanwick and Martin both scored their second goals of the game to cut the deficit to 12-11. But just 13 seconds later, Hamilton was up 13-11 as Keogh scored from Dolente. Jamieson then hammered one in from the right wing for a 14-11 Hamilton lead. Casey scored his second of the fourth quarter to pull the Machine back to within two at 12:31.
Hamilton will travel to Long Island to play the Lizards at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 21st. The game will be televised nationally on the CBS Sports Network. After next weekend, Hamilton will play its final three regular season games at home.
* courtesy Hamilton Nationals Lacrosse Club