Ah, lacrosse season is officially underway in South Philadelphia. Lacrosse fans nearly filled the entire lower bowl of Wells Fargo Center, as the arena was soon filled with noise. Nonetheless, the Philadelphia Wings (3-1) went top cheese against the Vancouver Warriors (1-4) in an 18-10 victory. This moved Philadelphia to second in the standings, only half a game back from their next opponent, the New England Black Wolves.
Trevor Baptiste started the home season off doing Trevor Baptiste things. The Wings won the opening face off and the Wings quickly made a statement. After the Warriors picked up a loose ball, their style of offense looked lethargic. No one was cutting, and the Wings zone defense kept them in check.
You earn the right to play offense with strong defense, which is just what the Wings did. Quickly enough, Crowley broke open the scoring a mere 1:30 into the game. Hickey soon followed with a goal of his own, electrifying the home crowd.
Vancouver would then go on a run of their own. Loewen scored with five minutes left in the first, which was soon followed by McBride finding twine himself. After one quarter of play, the teams were tied at two apiece, with Vancouver holding a 12-6 shot advantage.
The second quarter quickly started a plethora of goal scoring. Baptiste caused a turnover low, then went coast to coast as he backed a defender down. Riorden found the back of the net not even 20 seconds after, then Josh Currier scored off a loose ball down low a mere 30 seconds after that. Soon enough, the Wings were up 5-2, and the crowd was loving it.
The Warriors responded by pulling goaltender Aaron Bold and putting Eric Penney between the pipes. This bold move did not pay off for Vancouver. Currier soon ripped an underhand beauty by Penney. Vancouver would steal a tad momentum back, as a poor transition led to a Justin Salt goal.
Not even 15 seconds after, Cory Vitarelli would respond with a “premium Gouda” top corner snipe, putting the Wings back up 7-4. Vitarelli then would score a minute later, and frustration brewed from the Warriors, and a scrum broke out, sending Riorden to the box. McBride would score on the ensuing man-up situation, followed up by a McCready five-hole shot, cutting the Wings’ lead to three.
The Wings would steal this momentum back quickly, as Hickey would score on the powerplay. Despite a 26-25 shot advantage in favor of Vancouver, the Wings would lead 9-5 at half.
This powerful momentum would carry over into the second half. Josh Currier would net his third of four goals on the night 30 seconds in. About two minutes later, Brett Hickey would find twine for a hat trick of his own. Despite a quick follow up goal by Mitch Jones, Riorden would respond with his second goal of the night and season in transition.
Now, this is where the fun really began. Already up 12-6, the Wings would go man down after a Vitarelli elbowing call. Kevin Crowley, Philadelphia Wings legend, would score after catching a pass one handed on an inside cut. This was the 300th goal of his career, which after the game he called “unexpected,” giving thanks and credit to the crowd.
Still a man down, Baptiste scored a goal of his own by clamping down the face off and blasting one past Bold (yes, they switched back to Bold). Despite going 3-6 on the penalty kill on the night, the Wings would score three shorthanded goals. Pace found himself in the box for his second illegal substitution of the night, however Currier would sneak on far side while a man down. Pure dominance by the Wings penalty kill.
McCready would end the third quarter scoring by sneaking one past Higgins with 14 seconds remaining. After three, Philly led 15-7.
Vancouver would make an attempt at a comeback, as they would score a five-on-five goal and a power play goal after Hickey picked up an unsportsmanlike for chirping. O’Dougherty and Jones picked up a goal apiece for the Warriors. Wings lead was cut to 15-9.
Scoring would not ease up for the Wings, however. Rambo fed Crowley on a sick transition pass to make it 16-9. Charbonneau found himself up on offense, and netting a goal of his own. Then, Baptiste went to the box for a cross check, where McCready made him pay.
Scoring would end as Blaze Riorden would net a hat trick of his own, bringing a 18-10 win in the Wings’ favor.
Player of the Game:
It’s hard to leave Josh Currier, Kevin Crowley, Brett Hickey, or Blaze Riorden away from this. However, Zach Higgins played possibly his best game of his career. Early in the game, the Wings defense in transition was far from good. Higgins was left out to dry pretty much the entire first half, and made over 20 saves. To end the night, he finished with 40.
It was the quality of those 40 saves, too. Higgins made some crazy saves on backdoor cuts, as well as standing firm in his crease on any over-the-top or crease-diving goals.
Philadelphia gets eight days off, then travels up to New England to face the undefeated Black Wolves. This game will serve as an early test for the Wings, and could boost them into first place in the East division.
Coverage and the game can be found on Bleacher Report Live at 7 P.M.
Mandatory Credit – Alex McIntyre