story by Terri Workman
TORONTO – Merrick Thomson led the Nationals with five goals and an assist to maintain his lead in Major League Lacrosse’s goal scoring race. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as the Denver Outlaws took the game from Toronto 20-16 in front of 3,791 fans at BMO Field on Saturday night.
Midfielder Dan Hardy opened scoring for Denver, quick-sticking a behind-the-net feed from attacker Brendan Mundorf. The Outlaws struck again five minutes later when attacker Matt Brown stationed himself on the Nats’ crease and put it into the top corner of Toronto’s net.
Nationals midfielder Gavin Prout scored a shorthanded goal 8:48 into the first quarter, to put the score at 2-1 before Mundorf replied for Denver staking the Outlaws to a 3-1 lead. The goal fired up Toronto’s offence, starting with attacker Delby Powless who converted a Jordan Hall pass to make it 3-2. Before the announcer could finish calling the goal, the MLL’s leading goal scorer Thomson put away his 22nd of the season to tie the game 3-3.
Shawn Williams gave Toronto a 4-3 lead, but it was short-lived, as Brown scored his second of the game to knot the game a minute before the end of the frame. Denver midfielder Josh Sims got the second quarter going, notching an unassisted marker within the first minute of play. Nationals’ defender Nick O’Hara sprung the ball out of Toronto’s end and earned a helper by finding Thomson on the crease. The goal tied the game at five all.
Denver’s Brown earned a hat trick three minutes into the second quarter and the Outlaws stretched their lead to two on a Drew Westervelt goal a minute later. Thomson got a hat trick of his own at the 5:20 mark, scoring a sharp unassisted goal to bring the Nationals within one, 7-6.
Powless scored the Nationals’ second shorthanded goal of the game, capping off a sharp passing play. The sequence started on transition, with Toronto moving the ball from Colin Doyle to Thomson and then finally to Powless who snapped it in to the net.
Mundorf responded to re-establish a Denver lead, 8-7, however Doyle evened it at eight with a blast that found the top right corner of Denver’s net, forcing the Outlaws to call for a time-out to gather themselves.
Midfielder Jeff Sonke scored his only goal for Denver followed by another from Hardy to give the Outlaws a 10-8 lead at the end of the half. It took nine seconds for Brodie Merrill to score Toronto’s third shorthanded goal of the game. The defenceman’s marker narrowed Denver’s lead to 10-9. The Outlaws scored six consecutive goals after Merrill’s marker, giving Denver a 16-9 advantage. Mundorf scored back-to-back goals, followed by two from Brown and then markers from Sims and Westervelt.
With ten seconds left in the quarter, Powless broke the silence for Toronto, working in close, faking low and then shooting high to get the Nationals back in the 16-10 game. Brown opened the fourth with his sixth goal of the game, putting Denver up 17-10. Midfielder Joe Walters sniped his 15th of the season before Westervelt responded two minutes later for Denver, to put the Outlaws ahead by seven.
After coming several strides out of his crease, goalie Brett Queener made a point-blank save, and then sprinted up field, finding Doyle who scored on a diving shot for Toronto’s 12th goal of the game. Thomson scored Toronto’s first back-to-back goals in the half, his fourth of the game, to make it 18-13 for Denver. Midfielder Nate Watkins scored his first of the goal a minute later to maintain the Outlaws lead.
Mundorf’s stick stayed white hot, scoring his fifth goal of the game with just over two minutes remaining in the game. Stephen Hoar brought the Nationals closer to their opponents, scoring a two-point rocket with just over a minute left in the game to make it 20-15.
With 27 seconds left, Thomson scored his fifth of the game to bring the final score up to 20-16. Toronto National Merrick Thomson’s five goals put him at 26 on the year, two ahead of Denver’s Brendan Mundorf in the MLL’s goal scoring race. The Outlaws (6-1) were led by MLL BudLight MVP Matt Brown, who scored six goals and added an assist.
The Nationals’ Delby Powless also had a big night, earning a hat trick and two helpers while picking up three ground balls.
Goalies Brett Queener and Doc Schneider once again shared time between the pipes for the Nationals. The Nationals (4-4) hit the road to face the Chicago Machine next Saturday July 4th at Niles High School in Niles, IL at 5:00 p.m. EST.
For more information please contact:
Public Relations-Toronto Nationals Lacrosse