Villanova, PA - The Long Island Lizards never trailed in this game, but allowed a 5-1 early lead slip away, as Philadelphia battled back to tie the game at 11 late in the game. The Lizards' Kevin Finneran was named the Bud Light MVP of the game as he led his team with four goals and two assists for six points, while the last line of defense for the Lizards, Brian Dougherty, contributed 21 saves. Michael Springer added four goals and two assists in the losing effort, as Philadelphia dropped to 0-3.
This MLL tilt was played in front of “2,207 fans”. The crowd total is put in quotations because (as with the first game) this was a rather disappointing turnout by the Philadelphia sports fans, who may still be recovering after Smarty Jones’ sputtering on Saturday. I’m not sure exactly who counts or how the total is counted, but I think that total may include the players and counted their sticks as 1 fan each…and then some. The first home game for the Barrage, the small crowd can be attributed to the fact that a much more popular show in town, the Philadelphia Flyers, were playing in a Game 7 simultaneously. Sunday’s lack of fans can be attributed to the overcast sky and constant threat of rain (as I packed my poncho and plastic bag for my camera). It’ll be interesting to see what happens in Villanova Stadium when the Barrage are treated to nice weather and no conflicts.
The game started out with both teams trading goals as A.J. Haugen struck first for the Lizards 2:31 into the game only to be followed by the Barrage’s Mike Mollot less than a minute later. Ex-Princeton player, Chris Massey, proceeded to take over the game as he was responsible for the next three Long Island goals giving himself a hat trick. Kevin Finneran completed the Lizard run and stretched the Long Island lead to 5-1 with 7:09 left to play in the 1st quarter. The last three goals of the Lizard run took 1:47 to be completed.
Shortly after the run, a frustrated Brian Spallina went after a Long Island player on a loose ball. Spallina was awarded with an unnecessary roughness penalty. But it seemed that Spallina’s aggressive play gave the Barrage a little bit of life. Philadelphia finally started to cut into the four goal deficit as Roy Colsey took a Mike Springer pass on a man-up opportunity and then Springer took a pass from defenseman Nick Polanco and cut the lead down to two at 5-3 with just under a minute remaining in the 1st period.
To end the period, Tim Goettelmann came up with a loose ball in front of the Barrage net. Amidst the traffic jam in front of the crease, Goettelmann, who wasn’t looking at the net, let a behind-the-back shot go, that slowly beat Barrage goalie, Greg Cattrano. To start the 2nd quarter, Goettelmann’s stick was chosen as the random stick check between quarters. Goettelmann’s stick was found to be illegal, as the ball got caught in the stick by the throat area when the referee turned the stick over. After arguing at the referee’s stick check technique and being proven wrong (Gottelmann said to the ref, “aren’t you just supposed to drop the ball in and turn it over?” which he then proceeded to do. He dropped the ball in the stick, turned it over only to have the ball remain in the illegal stick.), the stick was removed from the game because the head was less than the mandatory 6 inches in width.
To start the second quarter, the Lizards would stretch the lead again to five, the largest of the day) as Conor Denihan notched their 7th and Kevin Finneran notched their 8th at the 7:34 mark. Blake Miller would step up for the Barrage and pull them back into the game as he notched the Barrage’s 4th goal with 8:17 gone in the 2nd quarter. About two and a half minutes later, Miller again possessed the ball. As he was trying to get top-side on his defender, he drew a penalty flag. Miller was able to get top-side and beat Lizard goalie, Brian Dougherty to cut the lead to 3 while putting Philadelphia on the man-up.
After a Greg Cattrano save, Cattrano drew the slash call on the clear. While the flag lay on the turf and the refs were waiting to call out the penalty, Keith Cromwell fed Roy Colsey on the play-on to bring the game to 8-6. Long Island would force the lead back to three to head into the half. On transition, Brandon Testa fed Jay Jalbert who carried it the length of the field. Not looking to pass, Jalbert kept it himself and beat Cattrano with only 3.9 seconds remaining on the clock.
The Barrage came out in the 3rd quarter looking to even the game. Liam Banks started the scoring 13 seconds into the 2nd half for Philadelphia, cutting the lead back to 2. Banks’ goal was answered thirty seconds later by Chris Massey’s 4th and final goal of the game. Over four minutes later, Kevin Finneran stretched the Lizard lead once again, this time to 11-7.
The Barrage showed rather quickly that a four goal lead in lacrosse is hardly safe. They responded by scoring the game’s next four goals and brought the game to an 11-11 tie. Mollot notched the 8th goal, Springer took a Mollot feed for the 9th, again Springer notched the 10th goal off a Kyle Sweeney feed. The run was completed when Blake Miller completed his hat trick for the day off a Keith Cromwell feed on an extra-man opportunity. Philadelphia tied the game with :43 left on the clock in the third quarter.
After a questionable call that went against Philadelphia, Kyle Sweeney lost his cool for just long enough to throw the ball away as the ref was calling for it in such a fashion that forced the ref to throw a flag and penalize Sweeney and Philadelphia for a delay of game. On the extra-man advantage, Long Island’s Finneran found A.J. Haugen. Haugen caught the pass with his interestingly colored green headed stick and put a nice left-handed jump shot past Cattrano with only 19.6 seconds left in the third quarter. The Haugen goal gave the Lizards a 12-11 advantage heading into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter was played at a fast pace, but it proved to be the lowest scoring quarter and also featured the least shots (Philadelphia 7 to LI’s 6). Long Island struck first when Jarred Testa took a Finneran feed after 7:57 of scoreless lacrosse in the fourth quarter. Neither team could break the defenses for another five minutes, until Tim Goettelmann, equipped with a legal stick this time, found Bud Light MVP Kevin Finneran for his fourth goal of the game with only 2:01 to play. Finneran’s last goal gave Long Island the late three goal lead which proved too much for Philadelphia to overcome. Springer would cut the lead to two with just under a minute and a half to play. However, a theme of the day was how dominate Long Island’s Chris Cercy was in the face-off X. Cercy prevented Philadelphia from getting the ball again late in the game. Cercy’s dominance was a major factor in Long Island’s victory.
Brian Dougherty just barely out did his nemesis Greg Cattrano, as he Doc had 21 saves on 33 shots, while Cat added 21 saves on 35 shots. A big factor in the game, as was mentioned, was Philadelphia’s inability to control many of the draws.
It seemed that Philadelphia had a very good collegiate draft. Obviously, Ryan Boyle is predicted to be a dominant player in the MLL (Philadelphia acquired him in a trade). However, I think the darkhorse of their draft was Ben DeFelice. DeFelice won .651% of his face-offs this season while scooping up an astronomical 135 groundballs, and a not too shabby 20 points on the offensive side. DeFelice is a do-it-all kind of player, who will have an immediate impact for Philadelphia in the face-off area. Had DeFelice been suited up today, face-off extraordinaire Chris Cercy wouldn’t have had quite as much of a field day (editor's note: DeFelice was suited up and went only 1 for 6 in the face-off X. I was unable to obtain an accurate box score after the game and guess I didn't notice that DeFelice was in the game because I thought he'd be winning more face-offs and none of Philadelphia's other draft picks stepped on the field. We'll point his lack of success to the fact that this is his first game, and he had to go against one of the game's best in Cercy. Stay tuned as he continues to come up to MLL speed.)
The Long Island draft class is a bit more of a question mark. Lacking picks in the first two rounds, they started out with Johns Hopkins’ long-stick midfielder Corey Harned. The honorable mention all-american is not lacking in talent, but he will have to find a place to fit into the MLL defensive system that has done away with the LSM or grab a short-stick and learn the offense. Their fourth and fifth round picks were very interesting as they picked Division III player of the year Andy Murray out of Salisbury in the fourth and his counterpart on the first team all-american midfield line and rival down on the Shore, Stephen Berger from Washington. Both players have dominated Division III for years. Their effectiveness against the heavily Division I MLL is yet to be determined. Let us not forget that the MVP today, Kevin Finneran, and where he came from – Division III Ohio Wesleyan.
It was interesting to see Damien Davis of Long Island don a short-stick today sans elbow pads. Though I hear wristbands are rather protective. Kyle Sweeney did not make an appearance at short-stick as Philadelphia has been saying for some time now.
|Michael Springer||(4, 2)|
|Roy Colsey||(2, 1)|
|Blake Miller||(3, 0)|
|Keith Cromwell||(0, 2)|
|Nicky Polanco||(0, 1)|
|Matt Striebel||(0, 1)|
|Liam Banks||(1, 0)|
|Kyle Sweeney||(0, 1)|
|Greg Cattrano||21 (0.600)|