7/28/11 12:00 AM
(Hamilton, July 28)… The Hamilton Nationals midseason turnaround and ascension into second place has largely been due to the resurgence of goalie Scott Rodgers and the defense.
“It starts with getting stops on defense with Rodgers,” said Hamilton Head Coach Regy Thorpe. “It is a combination of everything: offense, defense, faceoffs. Everyone is pulling their weight and focusing on our goals. We are right in the thick of things.”
The Nationals (5-4) have won four of their last five games to move into a three-way tie for second place in Major League Lacrosse. This week, the Nats travel to play the Chesapeake Bayhawks (5-4) at 7:00 p.m. Saturday night. Hamilton is 0-2 this season against the defending champions, including dropping a 12-11 overtime game on July 16th.
“We have to get good looks at the cage,” said Thorpe. “We have to execute on offense and defense and see what we can do.”
One of the cornerstones of the Hamilton defense has been the play of five-time MLL Defensive Player of the Year Brodie Merrill. Last week, he became only the second player in MLL history to eclipse 500 ground balls. He currently leads all league defensemen with 13 points (3+1+8) and is tops in the MLL with 60 ground balls.
“He’s been phenomenal between the lines. He plays the most minutes of anyone on our team,” said Thorpe, who said Merrill should garner MVP consideration. “His leadership in the locker room has been invaluable. He has taken this young group and is leading them.”