A second-half surge by the Rochester Knighthawks (10-8) nearly brought the team back from an eight-goal deficit, but a futile start ultimately proved to be too difficult to overcome as the Knighthawks’ comeback attempt came up short in a 14-11 loss to the Philadelphia Wings (9-9) in the regular season finale Saturday at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena.
With the defeat and Halifax’s 17-11 victory over Georgia, the Knighthawks finished fourth in the Eastern Conference and will head to KeyBank Center on Saturday, May 6 to face the Buffalo Bandits in the Quarterfinal round of the 2023 National Lacrosse League Playoffs. The start time will be announced later in the weekend.
Thomas Hoggarth netted four goals to go with an assist for a five-point outing while Holden Cattoni (3+1) also recorded a hat trick and multi-point effort. Connor Fields, who led the team in scoring in 14 of his 17 games this season, tallied two goals and two assists. Turner Evans (1+2) and Curtis Knight (1+1) each scored once while Austin Hasen, Parker Pipher, and Dan Coates all turned in two assists each.
Netminder Rylan Hartley (10-8) made his 18th consecutive start between the pipes, making 13 saves in 24 minutes. Riley Hutchcraft replaced Hartley for the final 36 minutes of regulation, stopping 17 of the 23 shots he faced.
Mitch Jones (3+5) and Ben McIntosh (3+4) both tallied hat tricks and multi-assist efforts while Joe Resetarits (2+5) and Taite Cattoni (0+4) combined for nine assists. Blaze Riorden (2+1), Chad Tutton (2+0), Kiel Matisz (1+1) and Hunter Lemieux (1+0) all scored for Philadelphia.
Goaltender Zach Higgins (9-7) made 48 saves in his 16th appearance of the campaign to earn the win. Higgins also had an assist on the Wings’ first goal of the contest.
Despite the @RocKnighthawks loss, Hoggarth put up a fight in tonight’s battle over the @NLLwings
🥍 3 Goals
🥍 1 Assist
🥍 11 Shots on goal
Watch his highlights: pic.twitter.com/x9f1rGnUSv
— NLL (@NLL) April 30, 2023
Trailing 11-2 with 2:15 left in the third quarter, the Knighthawks scored a pair of goals to cut into the deficit as Fields and Hoggarth both beat Higgins.
Pipher and Ethan Schott set-up up Fields before Paul Dawson was credited with the lone helper on Hoggarth’s tally in the final second of the frame.
McIntosh had a small push back in the first 1:09 of the fourth quarter as Jones and Resetarits had an assist on McIntosh’s third of the night.
The Knighthawks continued their second-half surge as Hoggarth and Evans notched a goal three minutes apart before Holden Cattoni scored back-to- back goals to make the score 12-8 with under five minutes to play.
Less than a minute later, Lemieux temporarily halted Rochester’s run, but the Knighthawks countered back yet again with three straight to pull within a pair of goals in the final minute of regulation.
Facing a two-goal deficit, Hutchcraft was summoned to the bench, however, Tutton sealed the win as he buried Jones’ feed for his second of the contest.
Just 71 seconds into the opening quarter, Rochester opened the scoring as Holden Cattoni fed Hoggarth in the middle of the zone with the ball. As Hoggarth had a Wings defender draped on his back, he flung a backhanded, one-armed shot past Higgins to put the Knighthawks in front 1-0.
Philadelphia responded less than a minute later to even the score at one on Tutton’s goal, which Higgins provided the outlet-pass from the goal crease to ignite a nine-goal run for the Wings.
Following the Tutton marker with 13:03 left in the frame, the Wings erupted for the next eight goals to take a 9-1 advantage into the half.
Jones, Resetarits and Matisz all scored in the first quarter while Riorden and Jones both found the back of the net twice in the second to put an end to Hartley’s night prematurely with just under six minutes left in the quarter.
To close its nine-goal run, McIntosh converted with 39 seconds left in the second quarter, giving Philadelphia a 9-1 cushion at the break.
Ok, Thomas Hoggarth 👀 pic.twitter.com/zdCqSY4aOU
— Rochester Knighthawks (@RocKnighthawks) April 29, 2023
Holden Cattoni, Resetarits and McIntosh all scored in the 10 minutes of the third quarter, and despite outscoring Philadelphia 9-3, the Knighthawks’ comeback fell short as the Wings held on for a 14-11 win.
The playoff-bound Knighthawks open the postseason with a winner-take-all showdown against the first-place Buffalo Bandits on Saturday, May 6 at KeyBank Center. The Quarterfinal matchup contest will be carried live on Big 107.3 FM as well as ESPN+.