Justin Ivey, NLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©
The New England Black Wolves (8-3) and the Philadelphia Wings (7-6) don’t like each other. It was apparent on Saturday afternoon as the teams battled from start to finish in the tiebreaker match for the season series. Just 26 seconds into the game, Black Wolves defender Nick Chaykowsky (2A) and Wings defender Steph Charbonneau got tangled and wrestled to the ground after a high sticking penalty from Philadelphia’s Kiel Matisz (1G, 1A). The physical play from both sides kept the game low scoring, but behind goalie Doug Jamieson (45 saves), the Black Wolves were able to improve to 4-0 on the road and claim the season series from the rival Wings by a score of 9-7.
The first quarter of play compiled 23 penalty minutes between the two sides and the first three goals of the game were scored on the powerplay. New England rookie Andrew Kew (2G, 2A) continued his excellent season scoring his first of the game 1:52 in. Fellow left sider Jordan Durston (2G) extended the lead to two on the next opportunity, before Philadelphia’s Cory Vitarelli (2G), just back from injury, put the Wings on the board. The two powerplay goals for the Black Wolves were the only they would score on the advantage, finishing 2-7. Joe Resetarits (1G, 1A) and Reilly O’Connor (1G, 1A) extended the New England lead to three goals before Liam Byrnes (1G) found the net with 1:15 on the clock. At the end of the first quarter, New England led Philadelphia 4-2.
The two sides traded goals in the second quarter to keep the difference at two. For New England, it was the left side continuing to get it done in the absence of Stephan Leblanc, who hit IR last week. Kew and Durston each scored their second, while Matisz and Matt Rambo (2G) answered for Philadelphia. The Rambo goal was on a power play opportunity. At halftime, New England led Philadelphia 6-4.
It took the whole third quarter, but Philadelphia came back and tied the game at six. Rambo scored 3:08 in and Vitarelli notched his second on a power play chance with 2:13 remaining in the quarter. The Wings would finish 3-8 on extra man opportunities. Jamieson made 12 saves for New England in the quarter, and his Philadelphia counterpart Zach Higgins (39 saves) made 10. In all three matchups this season between Philadelphia and New England, one team has been shut out for at least a quarter. Heading into the fourth, the game was tied 6-6.
Callum Crawford (2G, 3A), the NLL leader in goals, took matters into his own hands for the final quarter. Shut out for the first three quarters, he caught the clear pass from John LaFontaine (1A) on the side. Rather than wait for everything to get set up, he dodged his defender and jumped straight up when he reached the crease. His stick panned high to get Higgins to move his feet and black high, but he dropped the ball five hole before landing on two feet in the crease. The goal swung the momentum. Adam Bomberry (1G) followed with a transition goal just over a minute later, before Crawford repeated the same form on his second goal with 6:06 remaining. The Black Wolves three goal run and defensive prowess, left little hope for the Wings. Brett Hickey (1G, 1A) scored with 1:48 remaining, but it was too little too late. Colton Watkinson and Ryan Wagner got tangled up on the Philadelphia crease with 1:10 remaining to bring the game full circle. Final Score: New England-9, Philadelphia-7.
The Philadelphia Wings (7-6) travel to play the Georgia Swarm (7-4) on Sunday, March 8 at 4:00 PM EST.
The New England Black Wolves (8-3) travel to play the Buffalo Bandits (?-?) on Saturday, March 14 at 7:00 PM EST.