VILLANOVA, PA. — VILLANOVA, Pa. - Don't let the dark blond hair and long sideburns fool you.
Bayhawks attackman Tom Marechek is nicknamed "Hollywood" because of his deep arsenal of behind-the-back shots and flashy passes.
But if there was ever a question about the moniker's origin, the native Canadian answered it last night against New Jersey in the Major League Lacrosse semifinals.
Airborne from about 10 yards out and with his back to the goal, Marechek fired a shovel shot through his legs that beat Pride goalie Trevor Tierney to break a 13-13 tie with 36 seconds left.
He then added his third goal as time expired, giving the Bayhawks a dramatic 15-13 victory over New Jersey before 4,460 sweltering fans at Villanova Stadium.
Marechek's goals pushed the Bayhawks to their third straight title game and one step closer to repeating as MLL champions. They will play Long Island - 20-14 winners over Boston in the other semifinal - at 4 p.m. tomorrow in a rematch of last year's championship game. Tim Goettelmann led the Lizards last night with five goals.
"The timing was right," said Marechek, who admitted the goal salvaged what was a frustrating game and what has been a frustrating season for the attackman, who has not been as big a part of the Bayhawks offense as he has been in previous years.
"I really hadn't seen the ball much all game and I thought it was a good time to try it."
The goal impressed his teammates, but they were hardly surprised that Marechek turned to trickery at such a critical time.
'I see that shot all the time in practice, but usually he singes the upper corner with it," said Bayhawks goalie Greg Cattrano (21 saves). "I was talking to Trevor after the game and he said it was going like 90 mph. A goalie can't save that."
Added Bayhawks player/coach Gary Gait, a long-time teammate of Marechek's both at Syracuse and with various club teams: "I've seen a goal like that, but never to win a game. Not many players in the world are able to score on a shot like that and in that situation."
Marechek almost didn't get the chance.
Stagnant and one-dimensional offensively, the Bayhawks (8-4) led for much of the first half but couldn't put away the pesky Pride, a team they beat three times this season.
New Jersey (7-6), kept afloat by Tierney's 19 saves, carried a 10-9 lead into the fourth quarter.
But after Josh Sims pulled the Bayhawks even at 11-11 with 5:43 to play, midfielder Kip Fulks stepped up in a big way.
With the Pride defense collapsing on Gait (two goals), the Bayhawks player/coach shoveled a pass to Fulks, who rifled home a two-point goal from the top of the circle to give his team a 13-11 lead with 4:47 left.
"I don't think Tierney saw it," said Fulks, who entered the game with just four goals after being relegated to a defensive midfielder's role for much of the season.
"I can't imagine that in their locker room they were expecting me to take a big shot."
Undeterred, the Pride scored two straight goals in a 1:08 span, as Greg Traynor scored his fourth of the game and rookie A.J. Shannon his third to tie the game at 13-13 with 2:00 left.
But Cattrano robbed New Jersey's Scott Urick seconds later, and on the ensuing possession, Marechek went Hollywood.
"Cattrano is the best goalie out there for a reason and he made some huge saves late in the game," said Urick, who had three goals. 'When it was 13-all, we were the ones that had the momentum, but give Marechek credit. I guess when you're that good, you do those kinds of things. That goal was pretty ridiculous."