The clash between the No. 2 seed Rochester Rattlers and the No. 3 Philadelphia Barrage kicked off a dramatic evening of double-header action punctuated with an electrifying water world exhibit underwritten by Mother Nature LLC. Overall, the two teams were well matched and suffered from temporary lapses in play. Rochester failed to convert on numerous opportunities while Philadelphia continues to grow stronger and more cohesive. Blake Miller led the offense yet again with a six point outing while Greg Cattrano generated so much of the team momentum from the back court.
Shots on goal: Phila (41), Rochester (31). Saves: Phila (14), Rochester (23). Faceoffs: Phila (16/37), Rochester (21/37). GBC: Phila (60), Rochester (49), EMO: Phila (0/3), Rochester (2/2).
Goals/2-PTRS: Phila – Blake Miller 3/0; Keith Cromwell 3/0; Michael Springer 3/0; BJ Prager 3/0; Ryan Boyle 1/1; Matt Striebel 1/0; Roy Colsey 1/0; Doug Shanahan 1/0; Mike Mollot 1/0; Ryan Moran 1/0.
Rochester – Sean Lindsay 4/0; Ryan Powell 4/0; Casey Powell 2/0; Brenth Rothfuss 2/0; Kevin Cassese 1/1; Pat Dutton 1/0; Josh Coffman 1/0; Nate Watkins 1/0.
Assists: Phila – Blake Miller 3; ryan Boyle 2; Mike Mollot 1; Nicky Polanco 1.
Rochester – Sean Lindsay 2; Casey Powell 1; AJ Shannon 1.
A change of address card, some fresh unis, and a complete franchise overhaul have put the Barrage at the head of the class for turnaround team of the year. Rewind a month ago in mid July, the Barrage were down 1-4 and unknowingly poised at a clutch tipping point. You had to wonder, with such a stacked roster what could possibly be the problem? Fast forward to the present, the Barrage are on the verge of their first MLL title with the momentum of a six ton, six game winning streak pushing the machine hard, fast, and forward.
A train of dark clouds was parked just to the West of the stadium and the Barrage were down 2-5 in the first quarter with that window of narrow escape closing quickly. Just one hundred fifty yards to the East, Greg Cattrano came down hard on his defense and issued some stern, loud, and ominous directives of his own.
It was one of those really cool things to watch if you were lucky enough to hear it and then see it down on the sideline, that moment for a team where all of those uncoachable intangibles coalesce and translate into chemistry, action, and outcomes. Mr. Cattrano is the man. Throughout the game you could find Cattrano racing down field, barking out orders, coming up with some huge saves, and driving an already intense and solid defensive unit of Polanco, Kuczma, and Spallina to give even more.
On the other end, Boyle provides a balance to Cattrano’s veteran leadership. He hasn’t lost a step in the transition from college to MLL and has become not only a vital playmaker for the Barrage, but an effortless leader who isn’t afraid to direct team traffic in spite of his rookie plates.
By comparison, where the Barrage are the unlikely winners of the season, you expect all the show and dazzle from Rochester. The Rattlers were able to give the Barrage a run for their money, but came up a little short in the end. Casey came out during the half with a knee injury but the net effect was the same as the first half. The Rattlers were led by Ryan Powell and Sean Lindsay. Powell contributed 4g and Lindsay led with 4g, 2a. The offense just did not generate as much heat as the Barrage (Philly had 41 SOGs to Rochester’s 31).
The Rattlers outshot and outscored Philadelphia 5-3 and 10-9 in the first period. Blake Miller was the first to light up the boards with a upper shelf goal at 2:26. The Barrage drew the slide and the double freeing up Miller on the crease. Johnson came up with the save on the ground but was not able to control the loose ball. Miller snagged the rebound and the shot giving the Barrage a 1-0 lead.
Rochester roared back with four unanswered goals from Lindsay (2), Rothfuss, and Powell. Linsdsay scored his first goal off of motion at 4:36 (1-1). Casey Powell gave the Ratters a two goal lead at 6:41 with a crease roll goal that hit upper right corner (3-1). Lindsay scored again off an assist from Powell at 9:34 (4-1). Game MVP Keith Cromwell replied with a goal for the Barrage at 11:32 and closed out the first period scoring. Ball tempo picked up for the Barrage and Boyle found the defense marking the ball (and slow on the slide) and Cromwell wide open on the crease for 3-5 at 14:19.
The second quarter was all about the Barrage. Philly outshot and outscored Rochester 13-5 and 6-2 respectively. Mike Springer cut open the period with a fake and crease roll goal that hit left hip at 2:26. Springer scored again off an assist from Striebel. The play started off an interception by Cattrano who ran the ball through the midfield and dished off the ball quickly to Striebel. Shanahan and Miller (2) scored for the Barrage. Rochester’s Nate Watkins broke the rhythm with a 50yd dash and a goal at 11:14 (6-8). Former Canon Brent Rothfuss scored at 14:00 to narrow the gap to one goal (7-8). Philadelphia generated momentum going into the half with a fast break goal with defender Polanco dishing off to Springer in front at 14:53 (9-7).
Philadelphia went back and forth in the third quarter. The Barrage outshot Rochester 11-7 and narrowly outscored them 6-5. Colsey opened the quarter scoring off an assist from Miller at 1:04 (10-7). Rochester netted two easy goals. Dutton came in unchallenged and shot through Cattrano’s legs at 1:23 and Lindsay followed with a grounder off the crease roll at 2:49 (9-10). The Barrage responded of an interception on the clear by Boyle who then added more salt to the wound with a two-point goal at 3:32 (12-9). Philadelphia’s B.J. Prager and Ryan Powell traded two goals each late in the third period. Prager took a wide-open shot on Johnson at 11:57 (14-10). Less than a minute later, Powell responded with a grounder of the roll (11-14). Prager followed suit closing the deal on a fast break series (off an assist from Miller) at 13:46. Powell wrapped up the third quarter shooting demonstrating some touch off the flat pass up top from Lindsay at 14:02 (12-15).
Rochester statistically controlled the boards in the fourth quarter outscoring Philadelphia 5-2. Powell scored his first of two fourth quarter goals taking his defender on the crease, screening out Cattrano, and pulling off a Watson-style dive and dunk for 13-15. A wide open Striebel scored for Philly hitting upper shelf at 4:57 (16-13). Prager followed up a with another goal off an assist from Miller at 6:46 (17-13) rounding out the quarter scoring for Philadelphia. Cassese banked a two point shot and Coffman followed up with a goal of his own at 12:38 (16-17). Powell scored the game-tying goal at 13:14 as he beat his defender on the crease (17-17).
Boyle had the ball during OT and the Rattlers were in a tight man. Rochester got a little too aggressive with a foul on Rochester’s Gatzel for pushing. The two teams traded possession and play was littered with bobbled balls and some easy read low percentage shots. Keith Cromwell ended the suspense with a lefty goal at 7:55 giving the Barrage their first MLL final appearance in franchise history.
The Barrage will face Boston in the final. The Barrage won their last meeting. Philadelphia is at peak-point temperature with a six game winning streak under their belt while the Boston crew will be riding off the emotion of their die hard hometown fans. Goal tending and the scoring momentum of each offensive unit will decide the championship. Boston has an edge in the circle with Peter Inge while both teams boast solid defensive play. Will it be Cattrano or Garrity who is coming back strong off an injury?
The MLL final will take place at Nickerson Field, Boston on Sunday at 13:00 .
|Ryan Powell||(4, 0)|
|Casey Powell||(2, 1)|
|Kevin Cassese||(2, 0)|
|Josh Coffman||(1, 0)|
|Pat Dutton||(1, 0)|
|Nate Watkins||(1, 0)|
|Aj Shannon||(0, 1)|