The Armory hosted the Rapids at Blue Cross Arena for the Upstate Collegiate Box Lacrosse League on Monday night. Despite a depleted roster on the defensive end, the Armory pulled out a 17-15 win. A true call-and-response game as any time one unit looked to establish a lead the opposition would flip the script.
The Armory were led by a new face in the points tally as Liam Ferris notched six goals and one assist. Mark Belles kept some identity down the right-handed side as he tallied a hat trick and an assist while Alec Constable added a trio of assists and a goal from the same side. Will Dempsey backstopped the Armory to another win with 29 saves for a .659 save percentage.
The Armory came out shorthanded to begin the game. Almost every forward had to take multiple defensive shifts during the game. The Armory had five defensive scratches going into the game.
Rochester found a way to minimize that effect with strong defensive performances from multiple forwards including Ferris, Tyler Goode, Constable, and Chace Cogan. The Armory started the scoring, Cogan found Goode back door for an almost empty net opportunity, which was in the first minute of play.
The Rapids had the answer though as they scored the next three goals led by Siena Saints star and Buffalo Bandits draft pick Christian Watts. A nine-minute swing saw the Rapids take a 3-1 lead, but the Armory kept themselves in the fight as Brady Ruffalo scored a transition tally. Then the race began between Ferris and Watts, Syracuse vs. Siena. Ferris scored the last goal of the quarter to tie the game at three. He hit a bouncer through the legs of Rapids netminder Adam Brennan.
The Rapids came out on the attack in the second quarter due in part to the dominant faceoff work of Jack Bird. Bird was comfortable at the dot all day while the Armory had a revolving door trying to change the pace.
Buffalo scored the first two goals of the second within the opening two minutes. The Armory didn’t skip a beat; less than a minute later they had Brennan digging one out of the back of the net. Lukas Kucera, a Czech Republic native visiting for the summer, scored on the crease off a perfect feed by Constable just after he subbed in. That goal adds to four assists for the young forward through only two games.
“I can see that every game is getting better with the chemistry of the other guys and just the idea of playing box in America is exciting let alone having this league and arena and playing with these guys…” Kucera said. “When I first got here, I didn’t know I would be playing in this arena, so it was a great surprise for me.”
Kucera’s goal started a four-goal run in the ensuing five minutes. Henry Coke capitalized in transition before Mark Belles found twine twice in a row; the second was a perfectly executed dunk from behind the cage.
The response came once again from the Rapids as Watts scored his third goal just 25 seconds later; his fourth was the tying goal at seven. The teams traded goals in the closing two minutes of the half; Ferris scored both the Armory goals. The first was a perfectly executed pick and roll with Kucera down the lefty side. The versatility was then put on display as Ferris switched hands behind the crease and scored a dunk with his right hand.
The teams were tied at nine a piece by half. When the played just a week earlier the final score was 10-9. Vinny Fiorella opened the second half scoring as the Rapids took a one-goal lead. It was short-lived however as Ferris tallied his fourth goal just two minutes later. Fiorella again took the lead for the Rapids, leading 11-10 just five minutes into the half.
Constable and Ferris each connected next for the Armory. Constable’s goal came from the inside after a screen from Belles. Ferris went between his legs and found the five-hole for his most impressive goal of the night. Watts tied the game once again at 12; his five goals tied Ferris for the game lead. Belles finished his hat trick in the closing two minutes of the quarter working his way inside for a team goal, assisted by Kucera and Shane Roche.
The 13-12 lead was the first of its kind at the end of a quarter. Each of the previous periods ended in a tie,. The Armory used the momentum of their lead to their advantage. They capitalized within the first minute, Matt Belles hit a shot clock buzzer-beater to establish the two-goal Armory lead.
The Rapids tried to answer, but were quickly snuffed out as Cogan and Roche each scored within two minutes of a Rapids goal. With only three minutes gone, The Armory was comfortable at 16-13, which was the biggest lead of the day.
Despite last-ditch attempts, the Armory was able to pull out the comfortable two-goal win. The victory moved them one game ahead of the Rapids (2-3) for second in the UCBLL. Ferris completed his sock trick halfway through the fourth, scoring number 17 for Rochester.
The Armory (3-2) will likely have a more complete roster as they prepare for the Buffaloes next. The UCBLL will hold another doubleheader at Blue Cross Arena on Wednesday starting at 7:00 p.m.