Justin Ivey, Co-Editor and NLL Correspondent
Lacrosse is Awesome©
The Panther City Lacrosse Club (0-1) played their inaugural game Saturday night against one of the original National Lacrosse League teams. Unfortunately, they will have to wait for their first win even though they led the Wings for most of the contest. The Philadelphia Wings (1-0) did not grab the lead until the third quarter, and even then, Panther City continued to match the Wings scoring in a back and forth second half. Neither team could put it away in regulation, but a familiar hero came through early in the overtime period. Matt Rambo (3G, 4A) buried the sudden death game winner just 23 seconds in. Even with new faces, teams, arenas and coaches in the league this year, Rambo continues to be one of the most clutch scorers in the sport. Final Score: Panther City Lacrosse Club – 11, Philadelphia Wings – 12.
While the defenses settled into gameplay, the offenses wasted no time getting back on the horse after the extended league shutdown. Travis Cornwall (1G) scored in transition just 1:03 into the game for the first goal in Panther City history. “It’s exciting, and when you are running the floor as much as I want to be running the floor this year, I am expecting to get a lot of opportunities on net. It feels good to put the first one in,” said Cornwall. The visitors stunned the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center with another score just over a minute later from Ryan Benesch (2G, 2A). The Wings finally found the back of the net on their first power play opportunity of the game. Corey Small (1G, 4A) unleashed a perfectly placed rocket from up top after catching the spin pass from Kevin Crowley (4A). Liam Patten (1G) was able to answer for Panther City just about 40 seconds later. Corey Vitarelli (2G) brought the crowd back into it with his lone goal of the night, but Panther City rode the momentum through the end of the first and wound up with a three-goal lead after Nathan Grenon (1G, 1A) and Mike Triolo (1G, 3A) beat goaltender Zach Higgins (29 saves) in the final minutes. At the end of one, Panther City led Philadelphia 5-2.
A back and forth second quarter had the defensive units flexing. Brett Hickey (3G, 6A) scored Philadelphia’s only two goals of the quarter,
but Panther City was able to answer both. After Hickey’s first of the quarter, Will Malcom (1G, 3A) found the net in transition. Phil Caputo (2G, 3A) broke an almost seven-minute scoring drought with only 40 seconds remaining in the half to get the Panther City lead back to three. At the half, Panther City led Philadelphia 7-4.
The third quarter was a complete flip of the first half script. Panther City goaltender Kevin Orleman (35 saves), nearly unbeatable in the first half, allowed a string of goals to start the second. Vitarelli and Ben McIntosh (2G, 2A) opened the flood gates and brought the Wings within two just 3:42 in. A costly penalty gave Philadelphia the opportunity to tie the game and they sprung. Blaze Riorden (1G, 1A) scored the equalizer and just ten seconds later and on the same powerplay, McIntosh scored his second to give the Wings their first lead of the game. Caputo quickly knotted the game back up just over twenty seconds later, but Rambo had other ideas. He netted the first two goals of his hat trick, the second on the powerplay, and suddenly with under five minutes remaining in the third, the Wings led 10-8. Benesch scored his second of the night on a powerplay opportunity with 21 seconds remaining, cutting the Wings lead to one headed into the final quarter. At the end of three, Philadelphia led Panther City 10-9.
Panther City looked determined to start the fourth quarter. The defense and Orleman stood tall while the offense tried to solve the Wings defense. Patrick Dodds (1G, 4A) broke the scoring drought 6:57 in, backing his defender down and firing over Higgins shoulder. Tie game. Soon after the Wings found themselves on the powerplay for five minutes, but Panther City broke down the field quickly after a great defensive stand. Matt Hossack (2A) picked a pass to the center out of the air and found Josh Medeiros (1G) flying with him downfield. At full speed, Medeiros caught the feed, threw a good fake and wrapped the shot into the back of the net. With 6:30 left, Panther City had the lead back. The man down defense couldn’t hold on forever. Hickey caught a feed from Small, dropped his shoulders with a fake before bringing it back and releasing over the top for the equalizer. For the final five minutes, neither team could solidify the win. At the end of regulation, Panther City and Philadelphia were tied 11-11.
Overtime started with a Trevor Baptiste faceoff win and Philadelphia Coach Paul Day immediately called timeout. On the first set play opportunity, Rambo wrapped around a high screen and buried the game winner to the bottom corner. Final Score: Panther City – 11, Philadelphia – 12.
The Philadelphia Wings (1-0) host the New York Riptide (0-1) on Friday, December 10 at 7:30 PM EST.
Panther City Lacrosse Club (0-1) host the Vancouver Warriors (1-0) on Friday, December 10 at 8:30 PM EST for the first game at Dickies Arena.