Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 8/2/15
From Press Release
Matt Gibson scored 2:46 into overtime to send the New York Lizards to the 2015 MLL Championship Game.
Gibson, who was named Coca-Cola Player of the Game after notching a team-high four goals, scored the game-winner off a feed from seven-time MLL All-Star Paul Rabil. New York head coach Joe Spallina knew heading into Saturday’s playoff semi-final that a trip to the title game hinged on solid goalkeeping, lockdown defense, timely goals and a vintage performance from Rabil.
Spallina, in his fourth year with the Lizards, also needed FOAthlete of the Year and face-off specialist Greg “Beast” Gurenlian (Springfield-Delco, Penn State) to be at his best. Fortunately for him and Lizards Nation, New York was successful on all fronts, delivering a complete team performance in their dramatic come-from-behind victory over the Boston Cannons.
New York reigned supreme, 16-15, before a near-sellout crowd at Hofstra’s James M. Shuart Stadium. Lizards goalie Drew Adams (Springfield-Delco) made 20 saves, Gurenlian went 19-32 on face-offs and Rabil chipped in with two goals and two assists. Additionally, the Lizards were bolstered by strong showings from JoJo Marasco and Rob Pannell, who notched four points apiece.
Boston got off to a fast start, with three unanswered goals from Ryan Tucker, Brent Adams and Kevin Buchanan. Shockingly, the Lizards were unable to find the back of the net in the first quarter.
The Cannons were ahead by as much as four in the opening half, but New York never wavered. JoJo Marasco led the comeback charge for the Lizards, with two goals and an assist in the first 30 minutes. Rob Pannell, Ned Crotty, Kevin Unterstein, Gibson and Rabil also had scores in the opening half, as New York slowly turned a four-point deficit into a 7-6 lead.
It was all New York when action resumed after the half, as Rabil and Gibson scored back-to-back goals to give the Lizards a 9-6 advantage. Stone went top shelf with 9:04 to go in the third, putting New York ahead by four.
Boston scored just once in the third quarter, but they wouldn’t go away quietly. The Cannons outscored New York, 3-1, in the first six minutes of the final quarter, to get back within three. However, Steve Holmes (Germantown Academy) scored with 8:42 left in regulation to put the Lizards ahead, 14-10.
The Cannons mounted another comeback after time wound down, scoring four answered goals to get back within one with 3:30 remaining. Boston’s John Glesener tied it at 15 with 36 seconds left, sending the game to overtime. Gibson sealed it with the biggest goal of his career, 2:46 into the sudden-victory overtime.
With the win, New York advances to its first championship game since 2010. The Lizards, who last won the Steinfeld Cup in 2003, battle the Rochester Rattlers next weekend in the championship game. The contest, which emanates from Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Atlanta, Ga., is set for Aug. 8 at 7 p.m. For tickets to the championship game, please visit MajorLeagueLacrosse.com/championship-game.
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