This one was a heartbreaker.
Needing a win to get back to .500 and creep closer to a playoff berth, the Lizards went ahead by three goals three times but then allowed Atlanta to score six straight goals and fell to the Blaze, 16-14, on Thursday in front of 5,498 fans at Hof stra’s Shuart Stadium.
“This was one that we needed to have,” coach Joe Spallina said. “It’s disappointing.”
The Lizards went ahead 13-10 with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter when Greg Gurenlian won the faceoff and stormed down the field for his fourth goal of the season, but then their defense crumbled.
Scott Ratliff fed Mark Matthews to give the Blaze a 14-13 lead with 9:44 left in the game. After Atlanta took a 16-13 lead with 26 seconds remaining, Will Manny scored for the Lizards with 17 seconds left.
Paul Rabil scored three times, including two from beyond the two-point arc, and Rob Pannell also had a hat trick for the Lizards (4-6).
“It’s fair to say that we’re not playing as well as the players on the team would like to be,” Rabil said. “It’s everybody collectively trying to figure it out on the fly. It’s important that we put points on the board. It’s also important to us that we figure out how to work together.”
Both Spallina and Rabil attributed part of the second-half downfall to fatigue. Many players on the team had just returned from a three-day US Lacrosse training camp in Maryland the previous night.
“We finished yesterday evening and took a train up here,” Rabil said. “We’re not used to noon games either, but I think it’s fair to say we were definitely fatigued.”
Four of the nine Major League Lacrosse teams make the playoffs, and the Lizards are in eighth place. They’re only one game back of the Florida Launch and Charlotte Hounds, though, and will face the Hounds on the road at 7 p.m. Saturday.
“We have to win [Saturday],” Spallina said. “At the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to.”
12 Lizards named to U.S. Men’s training team. US Lacrosse announced its 49-man training team that will prepare for the 2018 Federation of International Lacrosse Men’s World Championship next July. Twelve Lizards made the cut: Gurenlian, Manny, Pannell, Rabil, Drew Adams, Steve DeNapoli, Joe Fletcher, Kyle Hartzell, JoJo Marasco, Jacob Richard, Kevin Unterstein and Joe Walters.