Despite going 1-5 at Johnny Unitas Stadium last season, the veteran Bayhawks looked right at home yesterday in a 24-8 win over the New Jersey Pride.
The Bayhawks (2-0), playing their home opener before 4,234, set a Major League Lacrosse record for margin of victory when rookie Brodie Merrill scored his second long-pole goal of the game with 3:22 remaining.
The goal put the Bayhawks ahead 23-7, eclipsing the mark of 15 goals set by the Rochester Rattlers on Aug. 2, 2003. Merrill came on the field as a short-stick midfielder but switched to his usual long pole, coming up with five ground balls in the backfield.
"He played great 'D.' He got up the field and scored a couple of goals," said Bayhawks player-coach Gary Gait. "We're going to use him as a utility guy. ... He's good at doing it all, and we're going to keep letting him do it all."
Merrill wasn't the only one doing it all. David Curry, an acquisition from New Jersey, had a career day with six points, scoring the only two-pointer of the game, and Josh Sims led the team with four goals. After an unassisted goal with two minutes remaining in the first quarter, Sims scored another with 13:28 left in the half to get the offense into high gear, scoring 11 goals in the quarter.
"With our chemistry the way it is, we're already so comfortable playing with each other," Curry said. "I don't want to say we were picking them apart. We were just playing our game."
The Bayhawks generated the momentum from both ends of the turf with goalkeeper Trevor Tierney making 12 saves on 20 shots in his first start of the season.
According to Tierney, another ex-Pride player, the Bayhawks' defensive chemistry is as good as that of the offense.
"Holding any team to under 10 goals is a great accomplishment for the defense," Tierney said.
The league's No. 1 overall draft pick in 2004, Mikey Powell, had a hat trick in his home debut for the Bayhawks. Merrill, who had never scored two long-stick goals in a game, called his first game with the Bayhawks "a thrill."
The Pride fell to 1-2.
Bayhawks 3 11 3 7 -- 24
New Jersey 1 3 2 2 -- 8
One-point goals: Bayhawks -- Sims 4, Marachek 3, Powell 3, Sonke 3, Frye 2, Merrill 2, Prout 2, Curry 1, Gait 1, Pfarr 1. New Jersey -- Garrison 2, Doneger 1, Chemotti 1, Hajj 1, LaMonica 1, Stilley 1, Torti 1. Two-point goals: Bayhawks -- Curry 1. Assists: Bayhawks -- Curry 3, Gait 1, Sims 1, Sonke 1, Frye 1; New Jersey -- Banks 2. Saves: Bayhawks -- Tierney 12 (60:00, 8 GA); New Jersey -- Schroeder 5 (30:00, 13 GA), Sussman 9 (30:00).