Redwoods Lacrosse Club came away with a dramatic 19-16 win over Waterdogs LC on Saturday afternoon in PLL action at Hofstra University. It was a big scoring game for the NBC broadcast, and the constant drizzle of rain did nothing to dampen the action.
Both teams were coming off losses, and eager to move up in the league standings with the All-Star break approaching.
“It was a back-and-forth game, and it was really tough fought,” said Redwoods midfielder Sergio Perkovic after the game. “Waterdogs came out flying and made a ton of plays early in the game and went up big. We put our heads down and kept fighting for the ball.” Perkovic led all shooters with eight points, comprised of two assists, two regular goals, and a pair of late-quarter 2-point goals.
It was the back-and-forth affair that Perkovic described in the first quarter, at least until Ethan Walker’s first pro goal put Waterdogs up 3-2. Redwoods then quickly fell behind 5-3 until Jules Heningburg’s first of the game stopped the run. Momentum didn’t belong to the boys in green, however, with Connor Kelly firing a 2-pointer past Tim Troutner on the slippery turf with 1.6 seconds left in the quarter.
Kelly led the Waterdogs with eight points, including four goals, one 2-point goal, and two assists.
The Waterdogs controlled the play in the first quarter, despite the best efforts of TD Ierlan at the X giving Redwoods extra possessions.
Perkovic bounced in his first of the game early in the second quarter, quickly followed by a five-hole goal from Rob Pannell to cut the Redwoods deficit to 7-5. But another three-goal run by Waterdogs, including a pair 15 seconds apart from Ryan Brown, allowed the purple team to double up the score at 10-5.
Cue the comeback.
Ryder Garnsey kicked things off, tiptoeing around the crease to score. Next, Heningburg’s jump shot went in. Matt Kavanagh’s bounce shot made it 10-8, and it was Redwoods’ third goal in a span of a minute and two seconds. Perkovic tied the game at 10 with his first 2-pointer, scored with 4.8 seconds left in the half.
In a touching move, Redwoods head coach Nat St. Laurent replaced Troutner at half with Jack Kelly, who made his first appearance in a game since tearing his ACL at the 2018 Worlds in Israel. Troutner made eight saves in the first half; Kelly made five in the second.
“It was emotional, to say the least,” Kelly said. “I was fighting back tears the entire game. It’s been a long road. It was an awesome team win, with the mentality that we were never out of it. Timmy made a lot of good stops when we needed them in that first half and we were able to rebound.”
St. Laurent said putting Kelly back in has been on his mind for a while.
“Jack and Timmy have been battling,” he explained. “Timmy’s been great at practice and has a great attitude and has said that Jack deserves it. There were a couple saves I thought Timmy wanted back tonight. I made the decision with about five minutes left to go in the second quarter. Timmy got us up and out, and I’m proud of how he handled it.”
From there, though the Redwoods were able to stay one step ahead of the Waterdogs, who were forced to play catchup. It may have felt kind of how it felt to be watching the game through NBC’s very wet camera lenses, which appeared to have just been letting water collect on them through halftime. They were cleaned for the fourth, thankfully.
Perkovic kept up the game’s pattern, scoring his second 2-pointer of the game with 38 seconds left in the frame, giving Redwoods a 15-12 lead and chasing Dillon Ward from the Waterdogs’ cage in favour of Charlie Cipriano.
Goals were traded between teams in the final quarter; every time the Waterdogs scored, the Redwoods had an answer. They were able to tack on an extra two goals in the final 20 seconds for insurance with Waterdogs pressing.
“In the second half we really wanted to come out and play strong no matter what happened,” Perkovic told Paul Bermeister after the game. “They fought back the whole time. Props to Jack Kelly coming in the second half, he provided that spark and that boost for us and made some huge saves.”
Ryder Garnsey finished with four goals on the day, while Heningburg scored three. Myles Jones contributed four assists, showing a strong ability to play at the arc and find open teammates.
Kieran McArdle and Zach Currier had three goals each for Waterdogs, with Currier assisting on four others.
Next week, the 2-3 Waterdogs kick off the weekend with a Friday evening match against Cannons before facing Chrome on Sunday afternoon. Redwoods, now 3-2, play Saturday at 6 p.m. against Whipsnakes.
Ethan Walker made his debut for Waterdogs, commenting after his goal: “I was a little bit nervous, but [McArdle] made a great skip pass through a couple of sticks. All I had to do was finish on the crease. I’m grateful to be out here, and I’ve enjoyed hanging out with the boys.” || TD Ierlan dominated at the X, winning 24 of 33 for an absolutely stupid 73%. || Ryan Conrad was named the defensive player of the game by NBC for his hard hits on both Pannell and Perkovic, two of Redwoods’ biggest players.