After dropping back-to-back games, the Philadelphia Wings found themselves in almost a must-win situation Saturday afternoon. With the New England Blackwolves visiting Saturday, and then a game in Georgia Sunday, Philly could have sit alone atop the division, or essentially out of a playoff spot after the weekend. Sitting in the final wild-card spot, but only a game back of the first place in the East division, the Wings needed to bring the intensity.
The first game up was a matchup with the New England Black Wolves.
Overall, this was one of the sloppier halves of lacrosse that has been played this season. Between both benches, there was not much offense or defense, and the goals scored being primarily from the restraining line or in transition.
The tone was set early, as Matisz went to the box for a five minute high sticking major. At the ensuing stop, Charbonneau battled a Black Wolf, leading to offsetting dead boul fouls. Quickly after, New England sprung out to a 2-0 lead following a pair of goals by Kew and O’Connor.
The Wings would soon score on the powerplay after, as Vitarelli made his presence known. Both teams would begin exchanging goals. O’Connor and Kew each scored another for New England, as Matisz, Byrnes, and Rambo each found twine before the half ended.
Despite the score, the goal-scoring was as sloppy as the 11 total penalties combined in the half.
This half opened up much better for the Wings. After a few great defensive stops, Matt Rambo was able to score his second goal of the game and the lone goal of the third quarter. Other than that, the third quarter was very sound defensively on both sides. The Wings blocked more shots than the Black Wolves hit Zach Higgins with to open the second half. However, Cory Vitarelli was able to sneak in a powerplay goal in the closing minutes to tie this game up at six heading into the final frame.
To open up the fourth quarter, Zach Higgins absolutely shut the door on New England. Shots were fired from each which direction, and Higgins stood tall for Philly. Both sides went scoreless for nearly 29 minutes. Aside from a broken play where Callum Crawford made Eric Shewell look silly, Higgins and Doug Jamieson didn’t allow any shots behind them for the majority of the second half.
The action started to pick up with ten minutes left. Adam Bomberry extended the Black Wolves’ lead to two after a goal in transition. Soon after, the Wolves would score two more to put themselves up three, and wouldn’t look back.
The Wings would begin to claw back late, as Brett Hickey snuck one through Jamieson’s legs with two minutes remaining. However, that would end the scoring for the game.
After the game, coach Paul Day mentioned that it was time to put it behind them and get ready for Georgia.
Up next, the Wings travel down to Georgia to take on the Swarm. Philly has failed to beat the Swarm so far this season.
Heading into the weekend, the Wings and Swarm were tied for second place in the division, both one game back of New England. Now with the Wings loss to NE, they patiently wait to see the score of the Swarm-Riptide game. Georgia is a heavy favorite against New York, which is unfortunate for Philly.
Coming into Saturday’s games, Georgia has scored 12.7 goals per game on 54.5 shots per contest. They have been led by a handful of key guys this season:
Shayne Jackson: 26 goals, 38 assists, 64 points.
Lyle Thompson: 24 goals, 24 assists, 48 points.
Miles Thompson: 16 goals, 15 assists, 31 points.
Randy Staats: 17 goals, 40 assists, 57 points.
Key to the Game:
Back to basics
After losing their third straight game Saturday afternoon, the Wings find themselves absolutely needing a win Sunday afternoon. Coach Paul Day needs to rally his troops to steal a big win against the Swar. The way to do this?
Simplify the game.
Philly has gotten off to slow starts in each game during their losing streak. If they want any chance at beating Georgia in Georgia, they just have to go back to slowing down their transitions. Once they can get set up, they can start moving without the ball again, and finding open shooting lanes.
Georgia will be playing a late-night game in New York, then have to travel all the way back to Georgia for this afternoon matchup. Philly must capitalize on this, and score early and often on a tired Swarm squad.
Expect a Wings rebound win in dramatic fashion. Philly should win this one, 14-12 to get back in the division race.
Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre