NLL: Rambo’s OT goal spells victory for Wings in home opener

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First and foremost, Kiel Matisz will be fine, according to Paul Day. The Philadelphia Wings head coach and general manager updated the media on Matisz’s status during a post-game press conference. Matisz, diving for the net, took a hard hit that left him curled up in the crease. He did not move for a few minutes before two trainers physically removed from the game and down the tunnel. The Wings captain did not return.

Other than that scary moment, it was energizing to have box lacrosse back as the Wings barely survived an attack from expansion club Panther City by winning 13-12 in sudden victory.

Matt Rambo scored 23 seconds into overtime to kick off the season with a win.

General manager Paul Day reflected on the goal that won the game, joking that it “had to be Rambo because this is his building.”

He then went on to state how mature Rambo has become over the last few seasons.

“That short side shot shows his maturity. Going short side, who else do you expect?”

Maturity was evident in Rambo’s press conference as well. When asked about the goal that won the game, he demurred and said “that was more Blaze [Riorden] – he took both of those guys and gave me a good opportunity. The right side had all those guys moving on that side so he just set me up and I aimed and finished.”

The game began with a tremendous amount of off-ball movement by the Panther City Lacrosse Club. In fact, the Texas team ran like a well-oiled machine most of the night. Players looked like they had been together for years; and this was just opening night.

The game began with Travis Cornwall netting the first goal in the history of the team. He scored just a little over one minute into the game and almost silenced the rather boisterous Wings’ crowd. Ryan Benesch scored another Panther City goal a little over a minute later. Philadelphia was quick with their boos.

Corey Small found the back of the net to get the Wings on the board. At the end of the first, it was all Panther City – they were up 5-2. The second quarter was more evenly matched as both teams scored twice. The boos reverberated in the stadium causing Day to change gears and adjust his game plan.

Adjusting the game plan was quite evident in the second half of the game. The Wings came out and staged a lot of crease dives. They scored four straight goals before Panther City found an answer. Phil Caputo scored before Matt Rambo netted two consecutive goals. Ryan Benesch artfully put one past Zach Higgins with 41 seconds left to end the quarter.

The fourth quarter seemed to have the most number of goals scored because the game was so close. In reality, only three were scored as Panther City netted two to the lone Wings’ goal. The momentum seemed to change constantly as each team tried to win it.

Rambo ended the night with seven points — a hat trick and four assists while Brett Hickey added three goals and six assists. For Panther City, Caputo had two goals and three assists and Ryan Benesch had two goals and two assists.

Philadelphia is scheduled to play New York this Friday while Panther City plays Vancouver on Friday.