The Georgia Swarm scored the game’s first six goals, but the Philadelphia Wings sprinted back with a five-goal run in the second quarter and then put on a late push to earn a 12-11 win at Infinite Energy Arena. Blaze Riorden had a career-high five goals and added three assists for his second eight-point game of the season. Riorden contributed to two-thirds of the Wings’ goals on the evening, including scoring the game-tying goal and setting up the late game-winner from Brett Hickey.
Georgia opened up a 5-0 lead with goals from five different players in the first quarter and extended it to 6-0 when Randy Staats scored his second of the game 2:33 into the second quarter. After Riorden finally got the Wings on the board at 5:11 of the second, Shayne Jackson made it 7-1 43 seconds later.
From there, it was Philadelphia’s turn to take over. They scored five goals in the final 8:32 of the quarter, starting with a goal from captain Kiel Matisz. He had two goals in the run, Riorden had one, and Josh Currier contributed a pair, including one with just nine seconds left in the half that cut the deficit to 7-6 at the break.
Staats and Riorden squared off in the third quarter – Staats scored two in a row to make it 9-6 just over six minutes into the third, but Riorden answered with two in a row of his own to make it 9-8. Goals alternated into the fourth quarter, and after Jackson completed his hat trick 6:07 into the fourth, the Swarm led 11-9.
The final surge from the Wings started when Matisz was granted a penalty shot after being fouled on a breakaway with 6:32 left. He converted to make it 11-10, and then Hickey fired home the game-winner with 1:35 remaining.
Zach Higgins made 43 saves in the contest, including 25 stops on 29 shots in the second half. Kevin Crowley made a big addition to his league-leading assist total with seven helpers on the night. Hickey’s winner gave him a five-point game (2G, 3A) and Matisz contributed four points with a hat trick and an assist. Cory Vitarelli had a three-assist game, as did Matt Rambo.
The crucial win moves the Wings to 8-5 on the season and allows them to join New England and Halifax as eight-win teams to this point in an extremely tight overall standings picture across the National Lacrosse League. They’ll return to the Wells Fargo Center next Sunday, March 16, to host the New York Riptide at 7:00. Tickets are available at WingsLAX.com.
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