August 21, 2010

Bayhawks-Lizards Final? That's Divine

by Corey McLaughlin | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

MLL SEMIFINALS - ANNAPOLIS, Md.
Video: MLL Semifinals, Post-Game Interviews
Chesapeake 13, Boston 9 - Game Story | Boxscore
Long Island 16, Denver 12 - Game Story | Boxscore

Long Island Lizards midfielder Keith Cromwell celebrates after scoring Saturday during a 16-12 win over the Denver Outlaws in the MLL semifinals. Cromwell also dished five assists to help the Lizards return to the championship game for the first time since 2005.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- According to Long Island Lizards attackman Tim Goettelmann, it was God’s plan for his team to face the Chesapeake Bayhawks in Sunday’s Major League Lacrosse championship.
 
The 10-year MLL veteran was with the Lizards in the first season of the outdoor professional league in 2001, when Long Island played and beat the then-Baltimore Bayhawks for the inaugural championship behind seven goals from Paul Gait.
 
Though the opponent that day changed its surname a few times -- first to Washington and now to Chesapeake -- they’re still the Bayhawks. And when they beat top-seeded Boston, 13-9, in Saturday’s first semifinal, Goettelmann started thinking about a potential finals rematch with the team in the league’s 10th anniversary season.
 
“I was thinking about how God was going to place us in the final with them,” Goettelmann said after Long Island defeated the Denver Outlaws, 16-12, on Saturday to advance to Sunday’s championship at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (1 p.m. ESPN2). “I just know everything was happening for a reason. We were the hottest team coming in with a five-game winning streak, and then Chesapeake upends Boston.”
 
It will be the first championship game appearance for the two teams since 2005, when Baltimore beat the Lizards, 15-9, behind six goals from Gary Gait. The teams also met in the final the first three years of the league. The series is 2-2 all-time. Goettelmann was there for them all.
 
“We talked about how it would be fitting for the 10-year anniversary of the league to be a Long Island-Baltimore final,” Lizards coach Jim Mule said. “They did their part, we did our part, and we’ll have a good game tomorrow.”
 
The Lizards and Bayhawks split their two-game regular season series this summer, but neither team is reading much into the past results. Chesapeake won 16-8 in the season-opener, but John Orsen, Ricky Pages and Keith Cromwell have all returned from injuries for the Lizards since then and rookie Parker McKee was added in the draft. That’s all contributed to their current six-game winning streak, Mule said.
 
Long Island won the second meeting, 14-11, on July 22, but the Bayhawks were without some key players that game -- including faceoff specialist Alex Smith, two-point leader Kyle Dixon and defenseman Shawn Nadelen, who were at the FIL World Championships with Team USA. “We really can’t go off that game,” Mule said. “It wouldn’t be fair.”
 
Goettelmann said the X-factor in Sunday’s matchup will be Chesapeake goalie Chris Garrity, who made 18 saves in the semifinal win over Boston. “If we get to him early, we’ll have a good chance,” said Goettelmann, the 6-4, 215-pounder affectionately known as "The Monster."
 
Chesapeake’s defense also played well against the Cannons, shutting out Paul Rabil and limiting league MVP and MLL leading scorer Matt Poskay to two goals.
 
They’ll look to give a similar effort against Long Island about 24 hours later, a rare quick turnaround in the MLL, where regular season games are played once per week and players can be well rested.
 
“It will be exhausting,” said Garrity, who will match up with fellow Penn State alum, Long Island goaltender Drew Adams. “We just have to come ready to play. We’re going to get rest, get our feet up and hit the ice baths. But we have a lot of numbers on our team that are going to help us. We have a great squad. One more game. That’s what we got.”
 
After the final matchup was set, Goettelmann said the same thing: “One more game.”
 
This one will have special meaning for him. Earlier this season, the only original Long Island Lizard left on the team said this might be his last MLL season. But then he recently said he was unsure. Could another championship sway his decision?
 
“Ten years later,” he said in amazement. “That first final was an epic game with the Gaits and I think it was at a Connecticut high school. And now, look where we are at the Naval Academy.”
 
It was as if God planned it. Right, Tim?


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