Di Miller, NLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©
On Friday December 28, 2018 a very busy lacrosse packed night in the NLL, the Toronto Rock (1-1) would open up their season at home in front of 10,123 Rock fans hosting their Eastern Division rivals the Georgia Swarm (2-0). This game would not disappoint the fans as there wasn’t a single minute of down time as the track meet and net-minder battle would continue on for two hours and seven minutes with the Swarm coming out on top in the last 25 seconds. Final Score: Georgia 12—Toronto 11.
For Toronto, defender Brock Sorensen was moved to the Active Roster, while defender Adam Jay was released from the Active Roster and signed to the Practice Roster; Creighton Reid would score his first goal of the season and in a Toronto jersey; Nick Rose would see a career high 64 SOG in his first game of the 2018-2019 season; and Jay Thorimbert is second in the league in face-off wins with Geoff Snider still holding the record. Head Coach Matt Sawyer spoke about his new Team Captain, Challen Rogers
saying he’d be on the back end and although he’s strong everywhere, that is where they feel he’ll best suit the team for now.
On the Swarm side, forward Holden Cattoni after being acquired in a trade from the Calgary Roughnecks at the start of season and entering the contests with seven points in his first game against New England on December 15, 2018 would put up another four points (2G, 2A) against the Rock.
Scratches on the night for Toronto—Alec Tulett and Phil Caputo; and for Georgia—Jerome Thompson and Matt Dunn.
Toronto would win the opening face-off with specialist Jay Thorimbert and the Rock would get it going quickly. Tom Schreiber (2G, 3A) on the stutter step scored at 1:51 with the assist from Kieran McArdle as he whipped a side arm shot short side hitting the lower corner on Mike Poulin. Rob Hellyer (5G, 5A) on the EA would score off the delayed penalty on the Swarm for his third of the season off the back foot and down the five-hole at 2:46. After three and half minutes of scoreless lacrosse and an early track meet, Georgia would go on a three goal run starting off with back-to-back goals by Holden Cattoni (2G, 2A) off a great quick release shot getting one through the five-hole on Nick Rose at 6:20; and again on the power-play off the illegal substitution two minute bench minor on the Rock 1:02 into the man up situation tying the game at two apiece. The Swarm were controlling the ball well at this point, keeping the Toronto defense on the floor and outshooting the Rock 9-4 at the 9:47 mark. After five minutes of scoreless lacrosse, rookie Adam Wiedemann (1G, 3A) who was selected in the First Round (8th Overall) in the 2018 Entry Draft would score his first career NLL goal unassisted at 13:02 as he caught Toronto on transition, pump faked went high to low far side on Rose putting the Swarm up 3-2 at the end of the first.
Starting off the second, Poulin was without his lower neck guard as it was cracked in the first and was playing partially unprotected but this didn’t stop the Poulin Wall. The Swarm run would continue off a beauty of a goal by Lyle Thompson (4G, 1A) as he stepped over the defenders using the screen and scored over the top at 1:46. Although Toronto would go man-up on the John Ranagan holding the stick call at 3:29, Georgia would see Jordan MacIntosh (1G) score shorthanded and unassisted at 3:54 with a jump shot off the post top left on Rose. Toronto would shut it down with three unanswered goals of their own. With five seconds remaining on the power-play, Hellyer would start the run off a screen with an over the shoulder quick release shot at 4:23; followed by Creighton Reid (1G) in transition with the give & go with Hellyer at 5:31 and his first goal of the season and in a Rock jersey. Hellyer would score again coming off the bench on the transition, would get the hat-trick at 6:39 as he had an extra step on the defender, hit the post and sent it into the net tying the game at five apiece. The Swarm would take control back with a highlight reel goal…Superman jump by (L) Thompson 9:49 off the fast break as he went airborne, twisted and found top left corner stick side; and Zed Williams through the screen and over the top would score at the 13:03 mark finding the sweet spot, as he dropped his shoulder taking himself out the sight line of Rose. With 11 seconds remaining in the first half, Ranagan would get hit with his second penalty of the game, an elbowing major sending him to the box for an non-releasable five putting the Rock on man-up for 4:49 to start the third. Score at the end of the two: Swarm 7—Rock 5.
The third quarter was relatively boring in the grand scheme of things as the fans had been treated to 30 minutes of fast paced, hard hitting lacrosse in the first half. It would take over four and a half minutes before the scoring drought would end and it would be Captain America, Tom Schreiber with a shot from the outside as the offense pulled the defenders away from Schreiber allowing him time to set up for the power-play goal with 16 seconds left on the penalty. Georgia did an amazing job on defense keeping it tight with the Poulin Wall thrown in for good measure and it certainly helped their case as Toronto was not making quality shots in almost five minutes of man-up lacrosse. The Swarm would see Cattoni go to the box on a two minute holding stick penalty at 6:29 and for the first time this season, Toronto who had been perfect on power-play opportunities, would be stopped short as Poulin
would make an amazing save with 30 seconds remaining the penalty as the ball rattled the cage and he came up with it. Again, there was another lull in play as the defense held strong on both ends and the net-minders stood tall between the pipes. This time Georgia would go man-up on the two minute slashing call against Brock Sorensen at 10:20 and Toronto would be the ones to capitalize on the man-down opportunity. McArdle would send a skipper as he lowered his shoulder and hit net right side low on an outside shot at 11:36 again tying the game at seven apiece. But as had been in the first two frames, the Swarm would again be the last to put points on the board as Bryan Cole (1G, 1A) waited for the screen and with a fist pump would put it top shelf stick side on Rose at 13:46. Face-offs had evened up at the end of three at 9-18 each; with Georgia leading on SOG 46-40. Score at the end of three: Georgia 8—Toronto 7.
If the fans had dozed off in the third, they just like the teams would get their second wind and see a combined total of nine goals put on the board in the fourth. Johnny Powless (1G, 1A) would start it off for Toronto as he picked up the loose ball on the rebound and with one hand made the shot count only 28 seconds in. Georgia would answer back with two, the first off a side step by the Randy Staats (1G, 2A) shot off an unbelievable angle twister on the short side as he got Rose to open his legs finding the opening between the legs at 1:20; and the next on a breakaway goal from Connor Sellars (1G, 1A) off the transition scoring a perfect shot off the rebound from Poulin down the field at 3:45. Hellyer would start another three goal run for Toronto as he came across hard right off the far corner, leapt and dumped the shot far side top shelf on Poulin at 4:30; McArdle with another bouncer shot hitting right side at 7:49 tying the game at 10 apiece; and Hellyer with a bullet would get his fifth on the night as he wound up and sent a bullet on the outside at 9:57 giving the Rock their first lead since the first quarter. Unfortunately for Toronto there still was four minutes left on the clock and as everyone knows that’s a lot of time to score when you’ve got the Thompson brothers on the other side of the floor. Georgia would dominate the remaining four minutes with two goals from (L) Thompson at 12:15 and 14:36. The first of two, (L) Thompson would go airborne for the third time flying across the crease sending it past Rose on the left side and giving him the hat-trick at 12:15. Georgia had another chance to score on the Rock turnover by Dan Turner as Jason Noble on the break headed down the field as Rose stood tall and made a beautiful clutch save to keep the game tied at 11.
The Swarm would have a penalty shot opportunity and Rose made another clutch save as (L) Thompson attempted an almost identical shot but was stopped short at 14:01. With less than a minute remaining, the Rock had the chance to send the game into overtime but with bad clock management gave up possession to the Swarm with 40 seconds remaining on the clock and they took advantage. After being turned away on the penalty shot, (L) Thompson would not be denied and headed towards the net, stepped in shooting short side on Rose with only 23.2 seconds remaining putting Georgia up 12-11. On the final face-off, Toronto sent the ball into their bench area off the flip toss and possession was given to Georgia. They controlled possession for the remaining seconds to come away with their second victory on the season. Final Score: Swarm 12—Rock 11.
Stars of the Game:
Toronto: Rob Hellyer—5G, 5A; Tom Schreiber—2G, 3A; Kieran McArdle—2G, 4A
Georgia: Lyle Thompson—4G, 1A; Holden Cattoni—2G, 2A
Toronto (1-1) will host the Philadelphia Wings (0-1) on Friday January 4, 2019 game time 7:30 p.m. EST. Georgia (2-0) will host the Vancouver Warriors (1-2) on Saturday January 5, 2019 game time 7:05 EST.
Di Miller, NLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©