Who doesn’t love bonus lacrosse? NLL fans were treated Saturday night with both games needing overtime. While Halifax prevailed over Toronto, the Panther City Lacrosse Club was victorious over the New York Riptide 13-12.
It was an emotionally charged family affair, with PCLC assistant Dan Teat coaching against his son Jeff for the first time. Each team also had an Orleman in goal – Kevin started for PCLC and his younger brother Steven came in in relief for the Riptide. Add that to an absolutely epic comeback by the home team and two disallowed goals in overtime – one for each side – and you’ve got a heck of a Saturday night.
Callum Crawford thought he won it for the Riptide 1:55 in, completing the epic comeback, and the team came running off the bench to celebrate. But, all goals under two minutes left in the game (including overtime) are automatically reviewed, and Crawford had a single toe in the crease. Philadelphia Wings’ fans probably felt they finally got a bit of revenge.
So, it was back to playing.
Panther City weathered a penalty kill, and then thought they might have scored at the 9:10 mark. Patrick Dodds got the ball just past Orleman, but after another review, was also found to be slightly in the crease.
Dodds finally said ‘enough of this nonsense,’ and buried a shot that did count.
“Honestly I’m just ecstatic to get the win, I probably blacked out at the end of the game there along with a couple other of the guys,” Dodds said. “We are all just happy to be in the winning column for one and we are looking forward to the next game to make it two wins for us.”
PCLC led 9-3 to start the third quarter. Over the next 20 minutes, they were outscored 7-1 for a 10-10 tie. Twice PCLC thought they scored the game winner late in the fourth, only for the Riptide’s Connor Kearnan to answer each time. It took nearly another 14 minutes after Kearnan’s 12-12 marker for Dodds to count the game winner.
It was a historic win for Panther City, who are now tied in franchise wins with the Riptide, whose only win in their short history came in January 2020.
PCLC head coach Tracey Kelusky was nearly speechless after the game.
“Honestly – it is crazy,” he said. “Obviously, there are ups and downs and the roller coasters and the adversity. Getting the win in the fashion that we did, I don’t think I would have had it any other way. Obviously, you go back and say, ‘We gave them a chance to come back,’ but the way we hunkered down on defense and offensively trusted the process and trusted one another, it is pretty surreal to be honest. The thing that stands out the most to me – this is a hard, hard league to win in.”
On the flip side, the Riptide were pretty disappointed after the game.
“The second half was amazing; that’s the kind of lacrosse we want to play,” said head coach Dan Ladouceur. “This group has never shown any quit. Seeing that second half and what they’re capable of doing, it’s frustrating to see the slow starts that we get out to and put ourselves in a position where we have to come out with a second half that is next level… I went in at halftime and challenged them and they answered that challenge. So I tip my hat to them for that heart.”
Gowah Abrams was chased near the end of the second when Taite Cattoni, playing his second NLL game, made it 8-3 PCLC. In fact, it was the kids who made the difference for Panther City. Jack Jasinski, signed earlier in the day, scored once and aided on three others. Nathan Grenon and Dawson Theede each scored twice, and Dodd’s game winner completed his hat trick.
And the kids had to come up big, with six veterans (Caputo, Cummings, Damude, Hossack, Patten & Sellars) on PCLC’s Covid list.
“I don’t think Gowah gave us the saves that he wanted to. I put nothing about that game on Gowah. That was all defensive let downs,” Riptide head coach Dan Ladouceur said after the game. “If you look at the goals that they scored, at least three were backside open looks. Those were just defensive breakdowns.”
The Riptide had most of their big guns, and Jeff Teat certainly did everything he could to help with a hat trick in his first game back – actually, just his second game overall since missing time with Covid. Jake Fox scored a hat trick before leaving in the fourth with an injury. Kieran McArdle and Scott Dominey had a goal each. Crawford didn’t score but contributed seven assists.
Both head coaches were happy with their Orleman brother.
“Steve did a great job for us and I told him as much… He got us the stops that we needed so we could go on a bit of an offensive run,” said Ladouceur.
“Kevin’s play thus far this season has been great. The more he continues to play the way he does, the more his teammates are starting to trust him… I don’t think there was a point of panic at any point in that game. I think they trust one another, but in particular because of our goaltender Orley,” Kelusky said.
PCLC’s Kevin said before the game that he had let his teammates know how to best score on Steven.
“Yeah, I think all is fair in love and war, so no holds barred. I expect the same thing from him. It is definitely a really exciting night for both of us, for our parents – we both have invested a lot in this game, playing from a young age, playing together on the same team, supporting each other, coaching each other throughout our careers, so to be able to play across from one another is going to be a different experience.”
The Riptide remain winless on the season. They visit Philadelphia next Sunday, January 23rd. Panther City is off until January 29th when they visit Saskatchewan.