Wings routed by previously winless Riptide in Philadelphia

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Philadelphia Wings
Philadelphia Wings logo (Photo Credit/Alex McIntyre)
(Photo Credit/Alex McIntyre)

One team was winless in the NLL. The other was winless on their home floor. Which broke into the win column to halt their respective skids?

Unfortunately, the Philadelphia Wings (2-3) are still winless at the Wells Fargo Center in 2023-2024. The New York Riptide (1-3) avenged their NLL Faceoff Weekend loss, earning their first win of the season.

Every step of the way, the Riptide outplayed the Wings.

New York worked the matchup advantage in favor of Jeff Teat. Teat accumulated nine points (5G, 4A) in total, and each of his assists was of the primary variety to four different scorers featuring Reilly O’Connor, Mitch Wilde, Austin Madronic, and Kiel Matisz. Matisz also represented half of the powerplay scoring for the Riptide, who finished 4/5 with the man advantage. Cameron Dunkerley stopped 31/40 (77.5%) of shots on goal to earn his first win of the season, 16-9.

In contrast, Philadelphia didn’t find an identity on offense. Mitch Jones tallied five points (2G, 3A), scoring an even-strength and powerplay goal in the first half and notching a primary assist on a shorthanded goal by Holden Cattoni to make a debut on the scoreboard. Though Cattoni and Blaze Riorden returned, they didn’t bring the hard-nosed offense displayed before their injuries. Possessions were rushed with the ball, undisciplined defense, and a transition that is a work in progress followed while the Wings couldn’t pace with New York. Zach Higgins finished 45/61 (73.7%) to fall to 2-3 as the starting goaltender this season.

Getting Healthier (+)

Holden and Riorden returned. Philadelphia gained two critical players after a momentous win on the road against the Halifax Thunderbirds. Riorden commented on his return to the Wells Fargo Center:

“Mixed emotions, right now. Obviously, it’s tough after playing in front of our fans and to put out an effort like that.”

Blaze Riorden; 1/7/2024

In the loss, Riorden notched a couple of points (1G, 1A). Cattoni added a few points (2G, 1A), including a shorthanded goal that provided an early spark for the Wings.

Swallowed By the Tide (-)

Except for a burst of offense carried from the first quarter into the start of the second, the Riptide swallowed Philadelphia. Down, 3-0, Cattoni put the Wings on the board when they were on the penalty kill before New York scored their second powerplay goal. That scoring play sparked a little chemistry between Cattoni and Jones, but Pat Jones and Dan Ladouceur made the correct adjustments to halt the attack in the second quarter.

“I think we were down like three or four-nothing at that time, so it’s good to get one from anywhere really at that point just to get us kick-started. We lacked a little bit of a spark to begin with, and we got it back to four-four. They pulled away again and we just never got that spark back. By that time, it was too late. Obviously, there’s things to work on and some areas for improvement for us to be competitive at the top of the league.”

Holden Cattoni; 1/7/2024

Philadelphia never found a rhythm. The Riptide went on two separate runs in the second and fourth quarters to finish each half in stride.

Some games, the box score can be deceiving, but when you look at each statistic and how New York dominated, it leaves little to the imagination.

Disjointed Lacrosse (-)

The Riptide played a clean kempt game, swarming the Wings attack, pacing transition, aggressively cutting across the crease and slot to get high quality shots on Higgins, while Dunkerley stood his ground often. Largely, New York wasn’t disrupted by Philadelphia.

Disjointed describes the Wings. They have a ton of offensive talent to not achieve quality shots on goal. Personnel was a worry on defense, and players like Kevin Lynch, who made his NLL debut, learned lessons versus competition like Teat and Connor Kearnan.

“Jeff Teat is one of the best players in the world. It’s a group effort to take care of him and I don’t think we did a very good job as a group to take care of him and their offense; they were constantly moving. Our young guys, it’s experience for them. Obviously, when you have some veterans out like we have the last few games, it’s definitely difficult.”

Paul Day; 1/7/2024

Lacking a solution, the sinking feeling caught up with Philadelphia.

“Lacrosse is a game of momentum. [But] it’s also a game of possession. We weren’t winning a lot of faceoffs, and they’re shooting the ball and getting rebounds, then we’re shooting the ball ten seconds into the shot clock. One team is running a race uphill and the other’s downhill. Eventually, it catches up after sixty minutes. That’s what you guys saw tonight.”

Blaze Riorden; 1/7/2024

You would have to go back to last season, versus the Toronto Rock to recall the last time the Wings lost by seven or more goals. Normally, they’re a team who does settle the play at even-strength. Philadelphia will look for their first home win against the Saskatchewan Rush on Saturday. Expect the gameplan to include an emphasis on settling the offense while the defense hopes to become a bit healthier.

Currently, the Wings are holding on to the final eligible NLL postseason spot, staring an opportunity to square their record again on their home floor.

Up Next

Next, the Philadelphia Wings host the Saskatchewan Rush at 7pm on January 13th at the Wells Fargo Center.

(Photo Credit/Alex McIntyre)