The first semifinal game was the last game of the day. Rochester and Philadelphia put on a 16-15 show; it was an awesome display of championship quality lacrosse. The overtime goal by Casey Powell did several things: send Rochester to their first MLL Championship, rob the Barrage of a triple crown trophy, and overshadow the exploits of a star-studded cast. Alex Smith and Andy Corno absolutely stole the show at the face-off X. Their battle was epic – first whistle, 720-degree rotation with Jedi-level Greco-roman artistry – and should have ended with nothing less than the title of Master of the Face-Off Universe. And that was only the beginning.
End-to-end and whistle-to-whistle, Rochester maintained the upper hand throughout most of the game. Rochester’s Alex Smith was 20-14 on the face-offs, a not-so insignificant stat given the level of output per take. Smith and Corno managed to control the ball even on the more physical pulls with clean rakes to the wings. Rochester capitalized on possession working the clock and creating more opportunities at the outset. The Rochester defense had a stronger defense on the afternoon behind the performances of Brodie Merrill and Jack Reid. Merrill was instrumental in clearing the ball and moving the ball in transition. Mike Levin started in the net for Rochester, but it was the energy of Brett Queener that ignited the game play.
Philadelphia struggled to establish an early rhythm on both ends of the field. It was an uncharacteristic start for the two time defending champions. Whether the Barrage looked sloppy on defense or that they had too many marks to cover is up for debate. Doc had too many threats to neutralize in Grant, Walters, and Powell – even the long poles were taking looks at the cage. Walters shined with four goals and three assists often losing his defender with his quickness and finishing with the finesse of a soft touch.
Rochester out shot Philadelphia 32-23 barely winning the first period 5-4. Walters found Doyle open for the pass setting up the side arm low stick side (1-0). Gavin Prout scored unassisted off the roll dodge going stick side high (2-0). Rochester converted on a Barrage EMO. Merrill breaks out drawing the slide and dumping off to Zywicki who finished high on Doc (3-0). The Barrage finally answered with a pair of goals. Boyle beat the slide going overhand stick side (1-3) for his first goal, and Colsey passed no look to Boyle from X (2-3) on the powerplay.
League MVP John Grant Jr. beat defender Brian Spallina lefty for the dive (4-2). Matt Zash was called for an illegal crosse at 11:58. The Barrage was able to score shorthanded with back-to-back goals from Corno and Springer. Corno faked low drawing Levin to the ground and then shot high. Springer capped off a textbook fast break with an equalizer off a pass from Boyle (4-4). Colin Doyle scored on the powerplay for the Rattlers off a pass from Grant Jr. (5-4). Doyle took advantage of a wide open crease.
The Barrage edged out the Rattlers 6-5 in the second. Walters scored on the powerplay with a lefty quick stick low on a behind-the-back pass from Doyle in the first 30 seconds (6-4). Both teams traded a pair of goals. Goldberg and Zash leveled out the game at six a piece. Hall and Walters responded with a set of their own, Hall off the pick and Walters on the run (8-6). Colsey passed to Prossner on the powerplay, who finished with a fake high and shot low (7-8). Striebel came up with the overhand equalizer off the pass from Prossner (8-8). Doc came off pipe and Walters finished with the overhand nearside pipe giving Rochester the temporary lead. Goldberg and Colsey found the back of the net giving Philadelphia a brief taste of the lead, but Walters denied Philadelphia the lead going strong to goal with the shake and bake lefty underhand (10-10).
The third quarter was all Rochester. The Rattlers won 5-2 opening up the period strong with three goals from Powell (Zywicki), Hall (Walters), and Dutton (Doyle). Philadelphia got its lone goal from Kevin Cassese on the unassisted two pointer. Gavin Prout scored with the righty rip off the pass from Hall (14-12). Brett Bucktooth wrapped up the scoring with a side arm shot off the pass from Walters (15-14).
The Barrage came back and blanked the Rattlers 3-0 in the fourth sending them into overtime. The Philadelphia defense seemed soft at times, not sliding to the ball. In contrast, the Rochester doubles were aggressive, and the defense was sparked by the play of Queener in goal. The Rattlers played the clock and took less shots, and Philly was able to convert and quell. Colsey’s EMO goal off the pass from Goldberg sailed stick side high (13-15). Striebel put the Barrage within one with the lefty overhand on the run (14-15). Veteran Colsey had the tying goal with the lefty on the run giving his team another shot at a place in the semis (15-15). Rochester’s Casey Powell didn’t waste any time ending overtime with the clutch shot taking Doc on the face dodge with the lefty overhand (16-15). With the goal, Rochester will face Denver for their first MLL Championship appearance. Game time is Sunday at 13:00.
Rochester Rattlers vs. Philadelphia Barrage
|Joe Walters||(4, 3)|
|Jordan Hall||(2, 2)|
|Andrew Spack||(2, 1)|
|John Grant||(1, 2)|
|Jeff Zywicki||(1, 1)|
|Brett Queener||(2, 0)|
|Casey Powell||(2, 0)|
|Pat Dutton||(1, 0)|
|Brett Bucktooth||(1, 0)|
|Brodie Merrill||(0, 1)|