The Saskatchewan Rush were narrowly defeated by the New England Black Wolves 12-11 on Friday night at Mohegan Sun and, in the process, shocked many in the lacrosse community who expected the defending NLL champions to soundly, and maybe easily, defeat the Wolves.
Saskatchewan went down quickly in the game but then seemed to turn things around and dominate as they went on a run while the Black Wolves to fell apart with miscues and penalties leading the way. However, New England is a strong veteran defensive team led by Brett Manney, and they battled back and settled down. Manney’s team had nine caused turnovers to Saskatchewan’s five.
There were several stars for the Rush. Robert Church and Ben McIntosh each scored three goals. McIntosh added three assists while Church contributed one. Mark Matthews, of course, was a force with a pair of goals and six assists. Jeremy Thompson scooped an incredible 18 loose balls. Evan Kirk looked solid against his former team with 41 saves. However, the lack of points and lack of stopping key drives are what stopped the Rush from being victorious.
Meanwhile the Black Wolves found a win despite being without Kevin Crowley. Reilly O’Connor scored four goals for New England while Callum Crawford added a hat trick. Alex Buque looked solid in his debut for the Black Wolves with 38 saves.
Moving forward, New England is going to have to work on not taking as many penalties. Saskatchewan capitalized on four of their seven power plays. Saskatchewan, on the other hand, needs to work on a more balanced attack and different guys need to step up if this team wants a chance at defending its championship.