By Natalie Johnson | 6/26/14 11:15 PM
The 2014 MLL All-Star Game was a matchup of stars that remained tightly contested until the final seconds, but it was Coca-Cola All-Star Game MVP Rob Pannell who scored the game-winning goal, with just seven seconds to spare in the game, to give Team USA the 10-9 victory over Team MLL.
The first quarter had much of what fans expected from such a high-caliber matchup. Although Team MLL initially had trouble maintaining possession, a goal by Team USA’s Kevin Leveille seemed to wake them up. After that goal, each possession featured quality offensive movement and athletic saves by both USA’s Jesse Schwartzman and MLL’s Jordan Burke. Justin Turri answered with a goal for Team MLL, but Leveille, the league’s all-time leading goal scorer, notched his second of the night on a pass from Pannell to put USA back in front. Just before the quarter expired, MLL’s Peter Baum scored to knot things up at 2-2.
The second quarter began with quick turnovers from each team, but it was Team USA who finally held onto the ball long enough to score, as Garrett Thul charged the net and snuck one past Burke. After MLL tied the game up once again when Joe Walters scored on a pass from former Hamilton Nationals teammate Kevin Crowley, USA finally gave themselves some breathing room with two consecutive goals from Dave Lawson and Kevin Buchanan.
Team MLL refused to let the game get away from them, as Matt Danowski scored on a dive around the net to bring the team back within one. However, it was Burke who deserved much of the praise in the final moments of the second quarter, making multiple outstanding saves to preserve the score at 5-4 entering halftime.
In the third quarter, it was all Team MLL, as they prevented Team USA from doing much of anything offensively while scoring two goals of their own. Danowski opened second half scoring with his second consecutive goal, but then the game remained at 5-5 for more than ten minutes. MLL’s Mike Manley was the defensive star of the quarter, frustrating the USA attackmen and single-handedly preventing at least one USA goal. Team MLL took their first lead of the game when Drew Westervelt scored in the 13th minute of the quarter.
The back-and-forth trend continued in the final quarter, as USA’s Ned Crotty scored while diving from behind the crease to tie the game at 6. After that, it seemed as though the two teams would trade goals as long as they were allowed to do so. In the fourth quarter, neither Team MLL nor Team USA ever led by more than one goal. Entering the final minute of the game, the score was tied at 9, and all 10,327 fans in Harvard Stadium began to realize that the victor would likely be whichever team scored last.
Ultimately, it was Pannell who was the hero, which was only fitting after he had been mostly stifled by defenders all night. He finally found the back of the net with just six seconds remaining in the game, which sealed the 10-9 win for Team USA.
-Team USA is now 3-0 when facing Team MLL in the All-Star Game. The same format was used before FIL World Championships in 2006 and 2010.
-Team USA’s Pannell won Coca-Cola All-Star Game Most Valuable Player honors after finishing with 2 assists in addition to the game-winning goal.
-Team MLL’s Joe Walters led all scorers with 3 goals.
-Chris Eck and Greg Gurenlian dominated the X while sharing face off duties for Team USA. Eck was 12-for-17 on the night, and Gurenlian was 4-for-6.
-Team USA rotated three goalies in the net: Jesse Schwartzman (3 GA, 6 saves); Drew Adams (2 GA, 3 saves); and John Galloway, who was credited with the win (4 GA, 4 saves).
-Team MLL used Jordan Burke in the net during the first half, who allowed 5 goals while recording 9 saves. Brett Queener, who played the second half, was credited with the loss, allowing 5 goals and making 6 saves.