Week #4 marked another memorable weekend of the 2013 NLL regular season with more highlight-reel plays, last-second finishes and comeback wins in what could be the most competitive year in league history. (Photo: Larry Palumbo)
The 2013 National Lacrosse League season has featured some thrilling finishes and incredible plays so far and Week #4 was no different, as more one-goal games, comeback wins and Top 10-worthy goals highlighted the busiest weekend on the 16-week schedule.
After winning their third straight game in the final minute by just one goal, Buffalo Bandits head coach Darris Kilgour has to cover his eyes nowadays in the "don't blink" NLL.
“I’ve gotten into the habit of not watching the last seconds of a game,” he told the Buffalo News. “The last couple of years, it seemed like every time we had to stop someone, we didn’t. I switched it up this year. I walk away and [assistant coach Dan Teat] tells me what happened.”
Walking away with two losses after slow starts were the Philadelphia Wings, who entered the weekend as the league's last unbeaten team. Buffalo scored seven seconds into the game and had three goals after 3:16 while the Calgary Roughnecks scored 15 seconds in en route to five unanswered goals.
"That was probably one of the worst starts we’ve had in a long, long time," Wings head coach Johnny Mouradian told Philly.com. "[Calgary] really came out fast, hard, and intense against us."
The Roughnecks started slow this year as they entered Week #4 with an 0-2 record but they emerged from the weekend at .500 after convincing road wins in Philly and Colorado, where they avenged last week's overtime loss at home.
"It started right after they handed it to us in our rink," said Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky. "We had some challenges of adversity right out of the gate. [goalie Mike] Poulin has been the backbone and [forward Shawn] Evans has been the backbone up front. Our guys never quit."
Speaking of which, the defending champion Rochester Knighthawks are going to have to dig deep to climb out of an early 0-3 hole after their loss to the Toronto Rock.
“We need to fix this ASAP,” Knighthawks forward Joe Walters told the Rochester D&C. “Only one team doesn’t make the playoffs and it’s not going to be us.”
After missing the playoffs last season, the Washington Stealth got revenge for their blowout home loss to the Edmonton Rush in Week #3 by returning the favor with a win on the road, highlighted by rookie Mitch McMichael's between-the-legs goal that made #7 in ESPN SportsCenter's Top 10 plays.
"We sat back and thought it was going to be another cakewalk," said Rush forward Corey Small to the Edmonton Journal. "There are no bad teams. You’re going to have a close game every time.”
Washington settled for a weekend split and missed their chance at a sweep after a close-game setback against the Minnesota Swarm.
"[Stealth goalie Tyler] Richards made some pretty big saves, other than that, I would probably be a bit hard pressed to say that anyone had played a really good game," Hall told the Everett Herald.
Rock goalie Nick Rose made some big saves in their weekend sweep and helped the team to a league best 4-1 record after allowing only one goal in the second half to Rochester.
“What can I say?” Rock captain Colin Doyle told the Toronto Star. “[Rose] was outstanding and he’s been outstanding all year. He was fantastic."
The night before, Rose had shut out Minnesota in the fourth quarter of their come-from-behind victory at home after trailing 12-8 with 3:45 left in the third.
“You’re never out of these games,” Doyle told the Toronto Star after the comeback.
The first quarter of the NLL season with the world's best lacrosse players is in the books. More than half of the games played have been decided by just one goal. If the month of January is any indication of what's next, we might be in the midst of the most competitive, exciting version of the league yet. Hold on tight.