NLL: Crawford, Panther City keep playoff hopes alive with win over Vancouver

Callum Crawford. February 11, 2023. (Photo: Panther City Lacrosse Club/NLL)

Saturday night’s contest between the Vancouver Warriors and Panther City Lacrosse Club featured two teams that desperately needed a win. PCLC definitely needed the win more, as teams are starting to jockey for their playoff position. PCLC is right on the cusp, and well, Vancouver is just looking for moral victories at this point.

Dickies Arena was bumpin’, as a back-and-forth contest resulted in the hometown boys sneaking out with a 14-13 victory over Vancouver. Something to think about: the last time these two teams met, PCLC stomped Vancouver, 20-7. This contest was far different. Let’s do it.

Much to the delight of the home faithful, PCLC got off to a hot start. Josh Medeiros opened the scoring just 26 seconds into the game. One of the journeymen for Vancouver, Keegan Bal, had the answer to tie it up. PCLC came back with a three-goal run to boost their lead and momentum. Goals were scored by Patrick Dodds on the power play, rookie Jonathan Donville and Callum Crawford. Crawford made up for lost time, as he missed the last game, and had himself quite the evening.

“It was awesome,” said Crawford about his experience in Fort Worth. “It was special because my family was able to be here. It was amazing – the most exciting part about me getting traded to this amazing place. Then, happens to be Youth Lacrosse Night and I brought six teams from my Tulsa-based lacrosse program – being able to play in front of them is different. Never had the opportunity to play where I live. I don’t live here, but I live close enough that a lot of people can be a part of it. That was really special. This place is fun.”

Everyone, say it with me now: “Lacrosse is a game of runs.” Do we sound like a broken record yet?

Anyways, Vancouver popped off a six-goal clip to start the second quarter and completely flipped this game on its head. We’d be here for a while if each goal is described, so allow me to save us all some time. Warriors’ goal scorers were: Brandon Goodwin twice, Ryan Martel, Bal, Shawn Evans and Riley Loewen. Bal’s was his second of the game and was on the power play. Crawford stopped the bleeding all on his own, as he scored the next two goals for PCLC, his second and third of the night. Crawford’s hat trick goal was a beauty. The veteran threw a face-dodge and turned a Vancouver defender inside out. Medeiros notched his second of the game with under a minute left to tie it up 7-7 going into the half.

There obviously was quite the influx of goals scored in the first half. Don’t mix it up however, as there was timely defensive play and even better transition. Both goaltenders also did their part to keep their respective teams in the game. Nick Damude made 27 saves on 34 shots. On the other side, Aden Walsh stopped 20 of 27.

“Just stuck with the game plan,” said Crawford at the break. “It’s a game of runs, we came out hot and let them back in and they took the jump on us. Now we just need to come back and be better in the second half.”

PCLC drew first blood in the third quarter as Donville tallied his second of the night. The see-saw battle continued as Loewen scored his second and Bal got his hat trick, both on the power play. PCLC’s Will Malcom joined the scoring party with a pretty one-timer, also on the powerplay. Bal gave Vancouver the lead back with a perfect pick-and-roll and dive right at the crease for his fourth of the game. The next goal by Medeiros – his first NLL hat trick – could have been the goal of the game, but stay tuned for that coming up a bit later. Medeiros scooped up a loose ball in front of his own crease, drove down the field and rolled a pass to Donville. Donville then hit Medeiros right back with a pass and he finished with a nice jump shot. Dodds scored his second of the game to give PCLC an 11-10 lead going into the fourth.

Malcom did his best jumpman impression to open the final frame. The youngster received a pass on the doorstep and flew across the crease to notch his second of the game. Bal answered and continued his monster night with his fifth of the game.

Now back to that goal of the game that was referenced a little while ago. Donville found himself leaping for a loose ball, got cross-checked in the back, was falling down and flung a pass that landed perfectly in the stick of Crawford in front of the crease. We all know Callum doesn’t miss often, that being his fourth of the game. Crawford tacked on another just 25 seconds later, his fifth of the game. In the final minutes, Martel scored his second and Adam Charalambides got his first, but that’d be as close as Vancouver would get. Your final from Fort Worth, 14-13 PCLC.

Players of the game for PCLC were Crawford (five goals), Medeiros (3+2), and Donville (2+6). Damude was an absolute stud all game long. He made a career high 50 saves on 63 shots. As for Vancouver, Bal (5+1), Loewen (2+3), and Evans (1+5), led the way. Walsh kept the Warriors in it for a good majority of the game, but fell just short. He made 34 saves on 48 shots.

“It is always awesome to come to Texas,” said PCLC head coach Tracey Kelusky. “Our people that are selling tickets did a great job of getting people in the seats and our job is to win games. We know in sports if you are winning, people will probably jump on the bandwagon and or are more apt to jump on the bandwagon. Our job is to go out and perform. It helps when you have a great crowd in front of you.”

PCLC (5-4) kept their playoff hopes alive. They stay in Texas as they prepare to host Colorado (4-4) this Saturday at 8 p.m. Vancouver (1-8) is looking for any confidence boost or positive ending to a disappointing season thus far. They host Calgary (6-3) this Friday at 10 p.m.