Lacrosse’s biggest grudge match of the year didn’t disappoint as the Major League Lacrosse All-Stars earned redemption with a 15-14 overtime victory over Team USA, rallying from a 7-goal deficit late in the fourth quarter Thursday night at Harvard Stadium.
Rain and slippery field conditions weren’t enough to cool tensions between Team USA and the MLL All-Stars as both teams wasted little time going on the offensive in the opening minute of the game.
Team USA struck first with an off-balance goal from Jordan Wolf 41 seconds into the game. The MLL’s Will Manny answered a minute later. John Haus gave Team USA a temporary lead before goals by the MLL’s Joel Tinney and Kevin Rice gave the All-Stars their first lead.
The MLL All-Stars continued where they left off in the second quarter, answering Team USA goals to maintain a one-goal lead. A goal by Marcus Holman with 1:58 remaining in the half tied the score at 7-7 until a behind-the-goal dive from Manny put the All-Stars up again.
Team USA recovered after a slow first half by scoring two straight goals from Connor Kelly and John Haus to regain the lead for the first time since 6:16 in the opening quarter.
Rob Pannell and Thomas Schreiber extended Team USA’s lead to three. After a scoreless third quarter, the All-Stars trailed, 11-8.
“Defensively we shut them out in the third quarter,’’ said Danowski. “You want to play everyone evenly in these types of events. I though offensively our guys did a really good job playing as a group. They were playing much faster,” said the MLL’s Matt Danowski.
Team USA’s lead ballooned to 14-8, but the MLL All-Stars scored five straight goals, cutting the deficit to 14-13 with 2:55 remaining in the game. Connor Buczek’s second goal of the quarter tied the score with 13.1 seconds remaining and sent it to overtime.
Manny scored the winning goal after a turnover, ending the All-Stars’ three-match losing streak against Team USA, dating to the inaugural match in 2006.
“Someone came and set a pick for me and I had space from about 8 yards and that’s my money zone, so I let it go,’’ said Manny, who was named the game’s MVP. “It trickled in and I’m happy about it.
“In the fourth quarter we said it starts with one goal and we kept fighting. We made saves and won faceoffs, that’s how you come back in a lacrosse game. When it rains it pours. Anyone can score at any moment from anywhere.”
“It was a great game, a lot of skill was on display by both teams,’’ said USA coach John Danowski. “The All-Star team, if they had a break or two, were all deserving of being on Team USA. In the fourth quarter the All-Stars did a really nice job coming back.”
“If you’re a lacrosse fan, this is one of the greatest nights of lacrosse that you will ever see,’’ said MLL commissioner Alexander “Sandy” Brown. “You had the best players in the world play at one time. Very few sports, if any, can say that.”