The Philadelphia Barrage and Los Angeles Riptide battled valiantly in the Rochester sun, but in the fourth quarter the Barrage showed what championship caliber was, stepping up and taking over, winning 16-13. It was the Barrage's third title in four years, their second in a row. While the league is too young to deem such honors, these boys from Philly may be the first to attain the title of Dynasty.
Though both teams made it to this game through strong efforts on both sides of the field, it seemed evident early that this game would be decided by savvy, athletic play from the many veterans on the offensive end. With names like Graham Gill, Sean Lindsay, Michael Watson, Roy Colsey, Ryan Boyle, Matt Striebel, and Michael Springer, keepers Brian Dougherty and Mickey Jarboe were going to stay busy. Of course, those two are no slouches either.
The Barrage drew first blood as Boyle drove across the face of the goal and skipped a shot past Jarboe. But LA did not shirk from the big stage. Philly fumbled a clear, and Watson seized the opportunity, snagging the ball and beating Dougherty between the legs. Gill followed that up with a solo score.
Philly tied with a slightly controversial goal. Jed Prossner got a feed from Striebel, wheeled around and bounced a shot that looked to hit the crossbar, but snuck just inside and caught the net. The referee judged the ball crossed the plan by showing that a small piece of fabric at the top of the net moved when the ball hit it. Chazz Woodson got the lead back for LA, hitting Terry Riordan sitting right on the crease for the catch and shoot. Up 3-2, the Riptide wouldn’t lead again until 4:39 into the fourth quarter.
Philly exploded for four straight goals in the waning minutes of the first and early second quarters. Seth Goldberg plugged a shot from the wing off a feed from Springer. Then Colsey threw a smooth shot fake/face dodge to get a step inside and score from about 8-yards. Kyle Sweeney continued his offensive prowess with a long pole, carrying down field, taking a lick from Woodson that knocked him down, retaining the ball and charging the rest of the way in for the score, a goal of utter determination. Then LA got caught sleeping in the substitution box. A sloppy transfer let Colsey walk onto the field without anyone coming on to cover him. Striebel just tossed him the ball and Colsey finished with a cannon shot.
With about two minutes to go in the first, Dougherty took a shot right to the lower abdomen, possibly his loins, and collapse in pain and shortness of breath. It was an unwelcome blow for any man, particularly one who suffered a possible concussion during Saturday’s game against Denver when a shot rattled his helmet so hard it actually dug a screw into the side of his head. Dougherty would leave briefly, replaced by Kevin Keenan. Keenan came in periodically throughout Saturday and Sunday’s games as Dougherty tried to shake off his injuries. After the game, Dougherty exited the field immediately with a trainer looking jubilant but pretty beat up.
“He’s the best goalie of all time,” Sweeney said of his keep after the game. “He got a bad break yesterday. He’s definitely not in good shape.” Dougherty made a strong case for his legendary status, playing hobbled and playing well.
The Riptide put together their own three-goal surge in the second and it was quickly evident this would become a game of runs. Woodson started it with a goal that proved a point. As he tried to set up his man, Philly defenders shouted, “He’s all right,” telling their comrade to push Woodson to his left. Woodson obliged, using a swim move, fumblingly transferring his stick to his left hand, and skipping a low shot that beat Dougherty.
LA used good movement on the interior to create several scoring chances. Matt Oglesby tried to roll outside, then made a quick look in to hit Riordan on the catch and shoot. Spencer Ford working at X drove up field and flicked the ball inside to a cutting Greg Downing for the score, tying the game at 6-6.
Now it was Philly’s turn to run. Striebel saw Springer sitting all alone on the crease and snapped him a feed. Springer threw a few fakes and tucked the ball around a sprawling Jarboe. Bobby Horsey, appropriately named because he is the definition of a workhorse defensive middy, tallied a nice coast-to-coast take during his usual clearing role. Then LA practically gave the Barrage a goal, getting happy feet while clearing and throwing a bad pass in the middle that Boyle easily got a hold of. He whipped the ball down to Goldberg sitting on the crease for an easy goal with five seconds left in the half. As the clock ticked out, Philly was up 9-6.
LA opened scoring in the third with a nice give-and-go between Watson and J.J. Morrissey, another goal for a defensive middy. Greg Bice unloaded a hit onto Boyle better than anything you could see on an NFL Sunday. Matt Casey scooped the resulting loose ball and blasted a nasty underhand shot that zipped right under the crossbar.
Goldberg got his hat trick off a feed from Springer. Then Philly capitalized on another clearing mistake by LA. Justin Smith grabbed the turnover and hit Boyle on the crease for another lay-up.
But the Riptide got back a sloppy goal of their own. Ford snagged a loose ball rebound and hit Downing on the crease for a quick catch and shoot goal. Then Gill got to show how strong and determined he could be. He drove inside, got held around the neck, and still got a feed over to Riordan for his hat trick. LA tied when Wes Green drove down the wing, then made a great look, throwing over the top and hitting Downing on the backside for his hat trick.
Woodson broke the 11-11 tie, giving the Riptide their first lead in more than 41 minutes. Rolling on Horsey, Woodson got an inch and took it, skipping a shot between Keenan’s legs. Dougherty returned immediately after. But less than a minute later, Striebel somehow snuck a shot between Jarboe’s leg and the pipe.
Sensing the moment, Colsey then stepped up again. Alluding he would retire after this brief postseason tournament, Colsey would not go quietly into that good night. After strapping the team on his back and scoring the game winner Saturday that propelled his team here, he now saw his chance to make sure he would go out a champion. Working the ball well on the man advantage, Prossner tossed to Colsey, who dropped his stick and rifled a shot to the far corner. Jarboe didn’t have a chance.
“There was a sense of urgency for me,” Colsey said after the game. “Obviously I wanted to go out on top. These guys really stepped up for me.”
Los Angeles kept it interesting though. Gill grabbed the loose ball right off the faceoff, rushed down the field, and hit Ford for the quick finish, tying the game at 13-13.
But the true showing of a champion is stepping up when the moment calls. Philly rattled off three straight goals with a little more than five minutes left to put this one away. Springer hit Striebel cutting down the backside. Striebel just kept on coming and bounced a shot right in. Then on a stupid man-up from an unsportsmanlike penalty on Gill, Boyle hit Striebel again on the backside for another tally. Prossner put the final nail in the coffin. As LA tried to double, they were too aggressive, and Prossner bounced off two slides and came right at the cage, scoring on the bounce.
Philly successfully killed off the remaining minute, protecting their 16-13 lead, and as the clock ran out they found themselves two-time champions.
At the end of the game Colsey made his retirement official to all who asked him. Though he debated retiring last year, he came back for one more championship effort. This time, he was done.
“I miss my kids,” he said. Colsey talked of wanting to spend summer time with his family, of weekends on the beach instead of on the road. Though he hasn’t ruled out returning, just in a different role. “I would love to coach in the MLL at some point, but that’ll be down the line.”
Knowing this would be his last game, Colsey truly relished the moment. Four goals Saturday and three Sunday, all at the right times, really showed that the Barrage boys could rely on Uncle Roy, as Sweeney called him.
“It’s sad,” Colsey said of leaving. “I actually had tears in my eyes during the national anthem.”
Though Colsey leaves, the Barrage should retain the majority of their talent for the next season. Both Sweeney and Colsey alluded to the camaraderie these players share with each other. “We have great individuals who care about each other,” Colsey said. The Barrage are an example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
“If we keep these guys, and we don’t age too badly,” Sweeney boldly predicted, “I’ll guess we’ll be in the finals next year.”