“Muffler” Mike Kostiuk – All Lacrosse All The Time, a division of the Edge of Philly Sports Network
The final PLL game of Week 7 in Fairfield, Connecticut saw Chrome and Waterdogs meet for the second time this season. In the previous matchup in Week 3, Chrome overcame a 14-11 deficit in the last five minutes of the game, going on a six-goal run to win 17-14. Waterdogs were looking to even the season series and climb back to .500 to start the second half of the season.
After losing Ryan Brown and Michael Sowers during the game, the Waterdogs leaned on Connecticut native Connor Kelly. Kelly answered the call, scoring both the game-tying goal in regulation and game-winning goal in overtime as Waterdogs triumphed 11-10. Waterdogs improve to 3-3 with the win, while Chrome falls to 4-2.
First half shootout
Waterdogs started the game on a three-goal run, courtesy of Michael Sowers (0:47), Ethan Walker (5:07), and Zach Currier (6:45). Justin Anderson (8:24) would stop the run, with the teams trading another pair of goals in the first frame. Sowers would net his second of the game, both assisted by Kieran McArdle, at 8:35. Dylan Molloy (9:07) would close the quarter for Chrome, trailing 4-2.
Jackson Morrill (1:13) cut Chrome’s deficit to one to start the second quarter, but Ryland Rees (3:42) fired a 2-point goal past Chrome netminder Sean Sconone to make it 6-3 in favor the Waterdogs. Chrome then went on a four-goal run of their own, starting with Brendan Nichtern beating Waterdogs goalie Dillon Ward at 7:49. Nichtern would then provide assists on goals from Mike Messenger (8:42) and Jordan MacIntosh (9:34) to tie the game at 6-6. Morrill’s second goal of the game (10:19) gave Chrome their first lead, but McArdle netted a buzzer beater (11:59) to make it 7-7 going into halftime.
Waterdogs dig deep in second half
Sowers (2:10; power play, assisted once again by McArdle) and Morrill (2:52; power play, assisted by Nichtern) opened the second half with their hat-trick goals. But fatigue from the oppressive 90+ degree heat would start to set in. The heat caused the game to become much more defensive as the clock ticked down. Ryan Conrad would strike at 9:25, assisted by Connor Kelly, for the only other goal of the third quarter. Waterdogs would head into the fourth quarter with a 9-8 lead but without Sowers, who left the game to be treated for dehydration.
Nichtern would continue his stellar day, scoring twice in the fourth (6:37; 9:03) to put Chrome back on top 10-9. Down to just 14 runners, Waterdogs would make some changes on offense, including moving Kelly from midfield to attack. The shift paid off, as Kelly grabbed a rebound of his own 2-point attempt, needled his way between two Chrome defenders, and bounced a shot past Sconone with 35 seconds remaining to tie the game at 10.
The ensuing faceoff resulted in both teams having a chance to take the lead. However, the weary defenses, along with Ward and Sconone, stood tall to force an extra frame of play. Kelly the hometown hero would become Kelly the Waterdogs hero 2:07 into the overtime period, taking the ball from X to his off-hand, around a pick from Jake Higgins, and beating Sconone with another low shot to close the game.
Other Stats of Note
- Nichtern (3g, 4a) continues to make his case for Rookie of the Year honors. He is now third in the PLL with 24 points (12g, 12a)
- McArdle: 1g, 3a
- Connor Farrell (Chrome): 14 of 23 on faceoffs; 12 ground balls (led all players)
- Ward, who played while wearing a cast on his thumb, made 11 saves on 21 Chrome shots on goal
- Caused Turnovers: Chrome 6; Waterdogs 12
- Ground Balls: Chrome 40; Waterdogs 27
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“Muffler” Mike Kostiuk was formally introduced to box lacrosse when he attended a New England Black Wolves game on a whim in 2016. Instantly hooked, he has since become an avid follower of the National Lacrosse League. Following the postponement of the 2019-2020 NLL season, he was offered the chance to share his wealth of statistical knowledge and unique insights with the lacrosse community at large. He cheerfully accepted, and currently serves as Edge of Philly’s correspondent for both the Albany FireWolves and New York Riptide.