NLL: Fields has 10 points in Knighthawks’ high-scoring affair

Connor Fields. (Photo credit: Rochester Knighthawks/NLL)

When you watch a lacrosse game, do you like the goal scoring? Or are you a fan of the defense and goaltending? If your answer was the latter, look away now (don’t actually, please keep reading!). The Sunday afternoon matchup between the Rochester Knighthawks and Georgia Swarm was an absolute shootout. Georgia came in on a two-game winning streak and needed to continue that for any chance to get into playoff contention. As for Rochester, they looked to get back in the win column and continue nipping at the heels of Toronto and Buffalo.

This contest saw 37 combined goals between the two teams and eight total players notching hat tricks. Rochester used multiple scoring runs throughout to sneak away with a 19-18 win in enemy territory. Gas South Arena looked like an old western movie with all the shots being fired and goals being scored. Duluth, Georgia ain’t big enough for the two of us. Let’s do it.

Rochester started the first quarter with a five-goal run. Connor Fields opened the scoring with a snipe from distance as the shot clock was winding down. Holden Cattoni followed it up with his first, then Fields again for his second. Ryland Rees continued the party with his first of the game. Rees’ goal chased goaltender Brett Dobson from the game, and in came Dustin Hill. Hill only saw one Rochester shot, which he stopped, and Dobson came back on. Fields welcomed Dobson back with his third of the game in just about nine minutes of game play. MVP-caliber stuff from the WNY native. Seth Oakes finally got Georgia on the board with a nice twister from the slot. Ryan Smith got his first and Brendan Bomberry scored for Georgia in the final seconds, to make it 6-2 Rochester after one.

Please know, I would never lie to any of you. It doesn’t seem like it, but rest assured, the final score of this game was as close as I said.

Cattoni continued the Rochester onslaught with his second of the game. Hold onto your seats because here came the Swarm. Georgia rattled off five straight in about three minutes. Scorers for Georgia were Andrew Kew twice, Shayne Jackson, Oakes with his second and Bomberry with his second. After an abysmal first quarter, this game was all tied up in the blink of an eye. After Bomber’s goal, Rylan Hartley exited the game and in came Riley Hutchcraft for Rochester. That meant all four goaltenders saw game action and we were only at the 10:40 mark of the second quarter. Rochester didn’t let the Swarm comeback last long, as they scored the next four. Scorers for the Knighthawks were Fields twice, Cattoni, and Thomas Hoggarth. That gave Fields five on the game already and Cattoni’s gave him a hat trick. Hartley returned to the crease after the first Fields goal. Lyle Thompson finally got on the board and Hoggarth got his second to end the quarter. It was 12-8 Rochester going into the break.

This would be the area where goaltender statistics fall into place for the first half. Let’s just say that all four netminders are studs and they were trying their best. All four saw a flurry of shots and did make some fantastic saves, despite the high goal totals. The Hartley/Hutchcraft combo made 20 saves on 28 shots. Dobson/Hill stopped 15 of 27.

“We’re playing against a great team there, we know how dangerous they are,” said Fields about trying to close the game out against Georgia. “I think we just have to limit their runs and extend ours, and hopefully we come out at the end.”

Georgia scored a pair to begin the third quarter. The first from Thompson, his second, and the other from Jackson, his second, on the power play. Rochester answered with two more, the first from Turner Evans and the second from Hoggarth, giving him a hat trick. Sick stuff from Hoggarth as he was spinning and fired a behind-the-back shot. Kew got his hat trick and Rees got his second to continue the tit-for-tat. Oakes tallied his third, which was shorthanded, and fourth of the game to finish out the quarter. 15-13 Rochester going into the fourth.

The Swarm were mounting a comeback, not sure if Rochester sniffed it out or what, but the Knighthawks utilized another run to begin the final frame. Smith scored his second, on the power play, and third, and Hoggarth scored his fourth to bump the lead back up to five. Georgia answered right back with three straight. Scorers were Thompson, his third, and two more from Jackson, his third and fourth. Dan Coates scored the backbreaker with 1:49 to play in the game. The Swarm made it interesting and made a valiant effort to come back, as Jackson and Oakes each scored their fifth, but that’d be all she wrote. Your final from Duluth, 19-18 Rochester. What a game.

Players of the game for Rochester were Fields (5+5), Cattoni (3+5), Smith (3+4) and Hoggarth (4+4). Hartley made 41 saves on 59 shots. Hutchcraft didn’t allow a goal in 2:51 of game play. As for Georgia, Thompson (3+7), Jackson (5+3) and Oakes (5+1) led the way. Dobson made 25 saves on 42 shots. Hill stopped four of six in 6:02 of game play.

There were a few milestones in this game as well. Fields eclipsed 100 career assists and Jackson eclipsed 300 career goals. Kudos to two tremendous players in this sport.

“I think we just tried to stick to our game plan, and you know, score more than them,” said Fields after the game. Regarding reaching 100 career assists, Fields said, “I think it’s just a testament to every player I play with on this team and the coaching staff and management. They let us play loose and free within the system. We are a really confident group.”

Rochester (9-3) got back in the win column and looks to continue scaling the standings. They travel home to host Philadelphia (5-6)* this Sunday at 3 p.m. Georgia (2-8) needs to shake this one off and virtually win out. They travel to Philadelphia to take on the Wings (5-6), this Saturday at 11 a.m.