NLL: Philadelphia outlasts Georgia in yet another one-goal game

Georgia’s Brendan Bomberry tries to get his stick on a loose ball but has competition from Philadelphia’s Ian Llord, Steph Charbonneau and Kiel Matisz. December 17, 2022. (Photo courtesy of the National Lacrosse League)

Gas South Arena in Duluth, Georgia was highly combustible Saturday night. The Swarm were back on home turf and they were looking to avenge a Week one loss to Rochester. Eastern Division rival, the Philadelphia Wings, were looking to have something to say about that, as well as get themselves in the win column for the first time this year. Someone grab the fire extinguishers, Riorden and the rest of the Wings looked to set Georgia “a-Blaze.”

This contest had its fair share of goals and intense transition play. Philadelphia used a huge fourth quarter and outstanding goaltending down the stretch to propel themselves to a 13-12 win in quite the nailbiter.

The first quarter certainly was not a snoozefest. With 10 total goals scored, it definitely set the pace for this game. Bryan Cole got the scoring party started early with a nice bouncer that beat Zach Higgins. Philadelphia answered right back under two minutes later with two of their own, one from Sam LeClair and the other from Blaze Riorden. Adam Wiedemann regained the lead for Georgia with two straight goals about a minute apart. It’s tough to convey just how fast paced this first quarter was. Need a breather? Sorry, more goals. Brendan Bomberry found the back of the net next to continue the Swarm advantage.

If you’re keeping score at home, this next part takes some focus. The next three goals were a MacIntosh or McIntosh palooza, depending on what side you’re on. Wings’ forward Ben McIntosh notched his first, but was quickly answered by Georgia’s Jordan MacIntosh. Ben won the battle however, as he quickly answered with his second of the game almost directly after Jordan’s. Andrew Kew found the back of the net to end the quarter to make it 6-4 Georgia after one.

Here comes your breather. After a 10-goal first quarter, the second only had two, one by each side. The first was by Matt Rambo on the powerplay at the 12:16 mark. The next was by Shayne Jackson with just 39 seconds left in the frame. In between those goals, the action was still back and forth and both Higgins and Craig Wende were finding their stride in goal. 7-5 Georgia going into the half.

As previously stated, both goaltenders did settle in in the second quarter. Higgins made 19 saves on 26 shots for the half. On the other side, Wende stopped 15 of 20.

Adam Wiedemann was asked about what Georgia needed to do to continue their momentum into the second half.

“We’re just going to keep playing on our toes defensively,” he said. “Make sure we’re not giving them too much space. Offensively, we’re going to keep pushing the pace and moving the ball around really well.”

Georgia continued to put pressure on to begin the second half. The third quarter saw every other type scoring, which benefited Georgia’s lead. Jackson got the party started with his second of the game and was answered six minutes later by Joe Resetarits’ first of the season. Bomberry got his second, only to be answered by Riorden’s second of the game.

Something has been glaringly obvious in this contest and that’s one name not yet reaching the goal column. With 48 seconds left in the third, that changed. Lyle Thompson finally found the back of the net, and most importantly, increased the Swarm lead going into the fourth. 10-7 Georgia as we head  to the final quarter.

Philadelphia wasn’t necessarily playing poorly. Every time they found the back of the net, the Swarm had an answer. What is lacrosse? A game of runs. Philly started the comeback train with a five-goal run to begin the fourth quarter. Philadelphia rattled off five straight in a span of five minutes. Goal scorers were: Resetarits twice, McIntosh, Cory Vitarelli and Riorden. Hat tricks for everyone in the blink of an eye. Riorden’s goal resulted in the removal of Wende, bringing in the rookie Brett Dobson. Something else to note: McIntosh and Vitarelli’s goals were both on the power play. Both goals were due to penalties committed by Jordan MacIntosh. Some would say those penalties resulting in goals would prove to be detrimental to Georgia. 12-10 Wings with 6:18 to play in the game. Kew got his second of the game to cut the deficit, however 30 seconds later, rookie Hunter Lemieux answered to regain the two-goal lead. Thompson got his second of the night with about one minute remaining, but that’s as close as Georgia would get. Your final from Duluth, 13-12 Wings.

In the sixth consecutive meeting between these two teams, the game was decided by one goal. Add it to the reasons why we love this sport.

Players of the game for Georgia were: Thompson (2+2), Jackson (2+3), and Kew (2+3). Wende, before his removal, made 32 saves on 44 shots. Dobson only allowed one goal in about six minutes of game time. As for Philadelphia, Riorden (3+2), Resetarits (3+2), and McIntosh (3+4) led the way. Trevor Baptiste had an unreal game at the faceoff dot, winning 22 of 27 draws. Higgins stood tall late, stopping 37 of 49.

“Just keep calm at the end of the game there,” said Higgins about the last two minutes of the game. “Just keep playing big, just keep doing what you’ve been doing your whole life. Make sure you’re in the right spots. I wanted to make sure I made some big saves there at the end.”

Philadelphia (1-1) looks to build on this big win. They have a while before they travel to Las Vegas to take on the Desert Dogs (0-2), January 6th at 10:30 p.m. As for Georgia (0-2), they look to find the win column and right the ship. The Swarm also have a bit of a break before hosting Buffalo (1-1) January 7th at 7 p.m.