Justin Ivey, NLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©
On Saturday night, the Georgia Swarm (5-3) hosted the New York Riptide (1-9) in front of nearly nine thousand fans at Infinite Energy Arena. The lone win for the Riptide in their inaugural season came on January 18 when they hosted the Swarm. In that game they were behind as many as five goals before mounting a comeback that ended with an overtime goal from Dan MacRae. The Swarm made sure they created a lead that the Riptide could not come back from this time, avenging their loss last month. With a nine goal second quarter, they built a lead and held on for the second half. For the first time this season, Shayne Jackson (6A) was held without a hat trick, or a goal for that matter, but the Swarm found scoring from Lyle Thompson (3G, 1A), Randy Staats (2G, 1A) and Zed Williams (2G). New York had multiple goal scorers in Connor Kelly (2G, 3A), Dan Lomas (2G, 3A) and Tyler Digby (2G, 1A) but could not stop the firepower brought by Georgia. Final Score: New York-9, Georgia-14.
Digby stunned the Georgia crowd with the first goal of the game. Myles Jones started the break from the defensive end and before anyone was set, some quick passing ended with Digby catching the ball inside unmarked to beat Mike Poulin stick side. New York’s defense was stellar in the first quarter. Consistently they pushed the ball outside, and goaltender Alex Buque stopped the long-range attempts. Eventually though, they broke through. Williams scored the equalizer almost four minutes later, and then with 4:35 left he scored again on a great diving effort to give Georgia the lead. At the end of the first quarter, Georgia led New York 2-1.
The Swarm came out hot in the second quarter, scoring two goals in just over a minute and a half of play. Jordan Hall (1G, 3A) dunked the ball in from behind the cage just 44 seconds in and then Zach Miller (1G, 1A) found himself open in the middle and received a pinpoint pass from Jackson that he finished in one fluid motion. Needing to stop the momentum, the Riptide were aggressive off the next face-off. After a reset because of a shot off the pipe, some quick stick passing around the crease allowed Digby to again beat a moving Poulin. The celebration was short lived. Miles Thompson (1G, 2A) scored just over 30 seconds later and the flood gates opened. Georgia outscored New York 7-1 over the remainder of the half. Each of the nine goals scored by the Swarm was from a different player, showing the true offensive firepower on the floor. After the Lyle Thompson goal made it 7-2 just 4:53 in, Alex Buque was replaced in net by Gowah Abrams, but it didn’t matter. Georgia was confident and scored two more before New York finally scored again. Tyson Gibson (1G, 1A) made it 9-3 with 2:16 remaining, but by the end of the first half, Georgia led New York 11-3.
The Riptide did their best to mount a comeback in the third quarter, playing hard defense and pressing offense. For the first half of the third quarter, the defense was holding their own, but was matched by a tight Swarm defense. Finally, 7:45 in, Gail Thorpe (1G,1A) broke through and cut the deficit to seven. Lyle Thompson answered with his second of the night, but the Riptide kept their heads up. Goals from Kelly (shorthanded) and Lomas came in the last three minutes of the quarter for a small victory, outscoring the Swarm 3-1 in the third. At the end of the third quarter Georgia still led New York by a score of 12-6.
Lomas kept the pressure on to start the fourth quarter, scoring his second goal in a row 4:12 in on a power play opportunity. The thoughts of this comeback reaching fruition though were stifled by a Swarm defense that was willing to bend but would not break. Staats scored his second of the game just about 45 seconds later to get the lead back to six. Kelly was able to keep the pressure on answering on New York’s next possession, but again Georgia answered immediately. This time it was Lyle Thompson’s hat trick goal. New York was able to score again in garbage time, a late effort from Kieran McArdle (1G) to bring us to our final. Final Score: New York-9, Georgia-14.
The Georgia Swarm (5-3) host the Calgary Roughnecks (3-4) on Saturday, February 22 at 7:00 PM EST.
The New York Riptide (1-9) enjoy a week off before hosting the New England Black Wolves (4-2) on Friday, February 28 at 7:30 PM EST.