A thrilling, high-scoring affair between the Rochester Knighthawks (9-3) and the Georgia Swarm (2-8) came down to the final minute, where the Knighthawks ultimately survived a late game push by the Swarm and held on for a narrow 19-18 win Sunday at Gas South Arena.
Both teams traded five-goal runs in the first and second quarters as well as a three-goal run in the final 15 minutes before the Knighthawks held off the final push to improve to 2-0 against Georgia this season while also snapping a three-game road skid in the process.
It was another record-setting night for forward Connor Fields, who a week after establishing the new single-season scoring record, set the franchise mark for goals (38) and tied the mark for assists (38) on the strength of his second 10-point performance of the season. By factoring in on 10 of Rochester’s franchise-best 19 goals, Fields, whose only other 10-point effort this season also came against Georgia back during opening weekend, moves into fifth in the NLL in scoring with 76 points and second with 38 goals in 11 games. The forward also surpassed his previous career-high of 67 points which he set last season as a member of the Buffalo Bandits.
With five goals in the first half, including a hat trick in the opening quarter, Fields also tied the franchise record for goals in a game, joining Thomas Hoggarth and Holden Cattoni as the only three players to accomplish the feat.
Hoggarth (4+4), Cattoni(3+5), and Ryan Smith (3+4) all scored hat tricks while Ryland Rees (2+0) and Turner Evans (1+3), rounded out the scoring for Rochester, which remains in the third place in the NLL’s Eastern Conference standings. Curtis Knight (0+4), Mitch Ogilvie (0+2), Austin Hasen (0+2), and Matt Gilray (0+2) all posted a multi-assist game. Dan Coates (1+0), who missed the last seven games due to injury, scored the eventual game-winning goal late in the fourth quarter in his return to the lineup, his first game since Jan. 7 against Panther City.
Newcomer Joe Post, the Canandaigua native who signed with the Knighthawks earlier in the week, made his professional debut tonight. The reigning Empire 8 Conference Player of the Year won 13-of-39 face-off attempts while adding six loose ball recoveries.
Knighthawks netminder Rylan Hartley (9-3) made his 12th consecutive start between the pipes, stopping 41 shots in the win. Riley Hutchcraft stopped two shots in three minutes.
Swarm forward Lyle Thompson (3+7) led all Georgia players with 10 points on three goals and seven assistswhile Seth Oakes (5+1) and Shayne Jackson (5+3) both tallied five goals as Georgia saw its brief two-game win streak snapped in the loss. Andrew Kew (3+4), Brendan Bomberry (2+2), Bryan Cole (0+5), Jordan MacIntosh (0+3), Adam Wiedemann (0+2), and TJ Comizio (0+2) all registered multi-point performances. Former Knighthawk Mike Manley, John Ranagan, and Jeremy Thompson each contributed one assist.
Georgia goaltender Brett Dobson (2-5) got the starting nod but was dealt the defeat despite stopping 25 shots while Dustin Hill (0-0) made four saves in six minutes of relief.
Entering the final quarter, Rochester held a slim 15-13 lead.
Smith capped his hat trick with back-to-back goals less than four minutes apart before Hoggarth pushed the lead to five at the 10:16 mark.
The Swarm, much like the first 55 minutes of play, did not go away quietly as they scored three times in 90 seconds to trim the deficit to 18-16 with four minutes to play.
The two clubs traded chances before Coates retrieved Oglivie’s pass to the left of the Georgia net and calmly deposited it behind Dobson for his second of the season.
Georgia responded back with two goals to make it a one-score game with 42 seconds remaining, but before Hartley and company could earn the win 19-18 victory, the Rochester netminder denied the Swarm’s last second attempt to find the equalizer.
In the opening quarter, it appeared the Knighthawks were going to run away the game as they quickly built a 5-0 lead before the Swarm scored twice to make it a 6-2 at the break.
Evans earned three assists in the first 15 minutes while Cattoni, Rees and Smith all scored. Fields, who opened the scoring 70 seconds into the contest, also scored at 9:22 and then again with 6:43 to play to complete the hat trick and picking up his 11th straight multi-goal effort to begin the season.
Georgia responded in the second quarter as its offense erupted for five goals, including a pair from Kew, before the 10-minute mark to even the score at seven goals apiece.
Prior to the completion of the frame, though, Fields added twice more to complete his five-goal performance while Cattoni also finished off his three-goal outing.
The Knighthawks took a 12-8 lead into halftime, with the 12 goals being the most ever in one half of lacrosse, but the two clubs traded goals before Oakes scored twice to close out the third quarter.
Despite the Swarm outscoring Rochester 5-4 in the final 15 minutes, the Knighthawks held on for the 19-18 victory.
The Knighthawks return home on Sunday, Mar. 19 when they host the Philadelphia Wings for the first of three meetings this season. The 3:00 p.m. faceoff at Segar Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena