6679 fans were treated to an absolute masterpiece of a lacrosse game at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday evening.
The 4-3 Georgia Swarm, owners of one of the most potent offenses in the National Lacrosse League visited the Philadelphia Wings in what, despite the 11-10 score was a battle of defense and goaltending.
Mike Poulin of Georgia and Zach Higgins for Philadelphia put on a clinic between the pipes.
With just :57 played, Blaze Riorden tip toed along the crease and converted a pretty passing play from the usual Philadelphia suspects, Matt Rambo and Kevin Crowley to put the home team in front, 1-0.
Georgia swarmed with a three goal run started by Shayne Jackson (3g,4a) at 2:35, Zed Williams cashing in on a Zach Miller and Miles Thompson (2a) set up a third marker from Jordan Hall (2g, 3a) to put Georgia in front, 3-1 with just 9:33 into the contest.
Just twenty three ticks later, Matt Rambo (2g,5a) fired a howitzer behind Mike Poulin to make it a 3-2 contest.
Liam Byrnes (1g) banged home his first NLL goal on a fast break transition goal to bring Philadelphia even at 3-3 with just 1:40 to play in the quarter.
Jordan Hall orchestrated a great pick and roll and buried a beauty with help from Jackson and Lyle Thompson to end the opening stanza with Georgia in front, 4-3.
Just 1:53 in, Cory Vitarelli (1g,1a) brought the Wings back even, 4-4.
The Swarm pulled off another run, this one for four goals kick started by Poulin (1a) outletting Adam Weidemann (1g) on a pretty transition goal at 2:19.
Momentum was building at it took just forty two seconds for Zach Miller (1g,1a) to convert crisp passing from… who else? Jackson and Hall.
The deluge continued after just :18 with Joel White (1a) feeding Jackson to light the lamp again.
On the man up, Lyle Thompson (1g,4a) got on the goal sheet with help from Jackson and Randy Staats.
Georgia was on the verge of pulling away but this years version of the Wings are a gritty squad and countered with Trevor Baptiste (1a) and Rambo setting up Josh Currier (3g,1a) to put an end to the Georgia insurgance.
Rambo found Crowley with a sweet pass and twenty three seconds later, Philadelphia was trailing by two, 9-7.
Jackson lit the lamp once again to close the half with Georgia swarming, 10-7.
The defenses seized center stage and only one third quarter goal was registered with Kevin Crowley doing the honors.
Drama went to the forefront at the 13:44 mark when Randy Staats and Liam Patten came together.
Staats fired a right cross to Patten and was given two minors (roughing, slashing and an additional 5 minute roughing call) while Patten,visibly shaken, was assessed a minor for Roughing.
Philadelphia scored on the Matisz goal but could do no further damage.
The combatants moved to the final 15:00 minutes with Philly trailing, 10-8.
Kiel Matisz (1g,3a) made it a one goal game just :23 in. A back and forth battle ensued with Higgins and Poulin each making outstanding stops.
Alex Pace (1a) and Crowley did the grinding and Matt Rambo wowed the crowd with a nice individual effort to get it knotted at 10.
Philadelphia’s Public Enemy #1, Staats bagged a pair ninety seconds apart to give the Swarm the 12-10 edge. Philadelphia held Georgia scoreless for 25:26.
With just over a minute remaining, Josh Currier made it a one goal disadvantage.
Kiel Matisz went in alone on Poulin with :22 left and Poulin saved the Georgia bacon to effectively close out the contest.
Dis and Dat: To demonstrate how even this game was. Shots on goal were even at 44.
Loose balls slightly favored Philadelphia, 72-69.
Trevor Baptiste was his usual dominant self and was 24 of 28 on face offs while shagging 16 loose balls.
Kevin has followed and promoted the game of lacrosse since May 19, 1974.
The same day the Philadelphia Flyers won the Cup, the Philadelphia Wings were introduced to Neibauer and Philadelphia.
Kevin has covered many sports, including baseball, football, basketball, and.. lacrosse. A former licensed football referee and baseball umpire, Kevin brings a unique insight to his game coverage.
A published writer in JustHockey Magazine, Kevin covered the American Hockey League as well as a monthly story on a pugilist where Kevin used the pen name, The Rink Rat. Neibauer turned his attentions to lacrosse for a few years and does his part, whether podcasting or writing to grow the game. Kevin branched out to his roots and currently provides insight for all Philadelphia teams for Edge of Philly as well as his full-time duties with LaxPhilly.