The Hamilton Nationals came to Rochester on Friday and defeated the Rattlers 14 - 13 at Sahlen's Stadium to win their first Major League Lacrosse game of the 2011 season.
The Nationals are the original Rattlers franchise, and they were led by Rochester's all-time leading scorer John Grant Jr.'s four goals and one assist. Grant Jr. scored a hat trick in the third quarter to fuel the Nationals decisive 6 - 1 run that turned a 7 - 7 half time tie into a 13 - 8 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Second-year attacker Ned Crotty matched his numbers for the season with 5 goals and 2 assists in tonight's game. Crotty's two goals and one assist in the fourth quarter fueled a furious Rochester come back that ultimately came up one goal short.
Brett Bucktooth, a member of the 2008 Rattlers MLL Championship team, opened the scoring two minutes and twenty-one seconds into the first quarter off an assist from Cody Jamieson, who plays indoor lacrosse with the Rochester Knighthawks. Rochester responded with goals from Ned Crotty and Greg Niewieroski to give the Rattlers their first lead of the 2011 MLL season at 2 - 1 with 4:58 remaining in the first quarter. Jeff Colburn assisted on both Rattlers goals in his first appearance of the season. The quarter ended with the Rattlers and Nationals tied at 3 after Brett Bucktooth and Joe Walters scored for Hamilton and Martin Cahill scored for Rochester.
Rochester and Hamilton traded three to one runs in the second quarter and the game remained tied at seven at the half. Joe Walters and Brodie Merrill, two more members of the Rattlers 2008 Championship team who were playing for Hamilton tonight, scored for the Nationals. Second year attacker Ned Crotty responded with a goal and an assist for the Rattlers in the second quarter.
The third quarter belonged to Hamilton attacker John Grant Jr. as he scored three goals to spark a 6 - 1 run for the Nationals that gave them a 13 - 8 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Grant, Jr. starred with the Rattlers in 2001, and then again from 2005 - 2008. He is Rochester's all-time leading scorer with 284 points. His 181 goals and 89 assists rank among the all-time best in the history of the franchise as well.
The Rattlers were fueled by the home crowd of 4,131 fans and responded with a 5 - 1 run in the fourth quarter, but could not tie the game in the dying seconds to force overtime. Ned Crotty had two goals and an assists in the quarter and veteran midfielder Matt Striebel had three points as the Rattlers got to within one at 14 - 13 with 18 seconds remaining but could get no closer. Crotty was the National Player of the Year in college lacrosse, a National Champion with Duke, the number one pick in the MLL Draft, the Cascade MLL Rookie of the Year, and a gold medal winner in the World Outdoors with Team USA in a prolific 2010 calendar year. He is picking up right where he left of last year with 10 goals and 4 assists for 14 points in the first three games of the 2011 season. "It's a long season and we feellike we are progressing in the right direction. Unfortunately we are not where we want to be right now, but we are going to keep working hard." Crotty said.
The Rattlers return to Sahlen's Stadium looking for their first win of the 2011 Major League Lacrosse season next Saturday night, June 18th, at 7PM as they host the Boston Cannons.