Rob Pannell played the role of hero for the New York Lizards on Heroes Night, Saturday, as they defeated the Ohio Machine 14-11.
As part of Heroes Night, which benefited first responders and veterans from the Tri-state area, the New York Lizards wore uniquely designed jerseys that will be signed by players and auctioned off following the game, with proceeds benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project.
Pannell put forth a balanced six-point performance, with three goals and three assists to lead the Lizards. Fellow rookie JoJo Marasco, the Player of the Game, added five points on three goals and two assists.
With the win, New York ends the season at 4-10, while the loss drops the Machine to 2-12, and should receive the first overall pick in the 2014 MLL Collegiate Draft.
New York got on the board first, as Pannell found former Cornell teammate Stephen Mock alone in front of the net for the easy putaway. Ohio answered when Steele Stanwick beat his defender on the right wing and took it all the way to the cage for an easy goal, but Mock answered with his second tally of the quarter off a feed from Marasco.
Not to be deterred, the Machine responded with two straight goals of their own to finish the quarter. Rookie midfielder Dominique Alexander recorded his first career point, scoring a transition goal to tie the game, before Kiel Matisz received a pass from Marcus Holman and deposited the man-up goal to make it 3-2 heading into the second frame.
Once again, New York scored the first goal of the quarter when Stephen Peyser received a pass from Pannell and scored from in tight. But for the second time, Ohio scored two consecutive goals, with scores from Jake Bernhardt and Matisz to put the Machine up 5-3.
Marasco fed Mock again for his third goal of the night before Ohio scored two consecutive goals for the third time in the half. Alexander scored his second career point, assisting on a Logan Schuss goal, before Joe Cummings scored his 20
goal of the season to put the Machine up 7-4.
New York had multiple man-up opportunities late in the half, but the strong play of the Ohio defense, and some big saves by Scott Rodgers kept the scoreline at 7-4 heading into halftime.
As part of a league experiment, the yellow balls used in the first half were subbed out for white balls, to see which color was most visible for the television audience.
New York started the third quarter with a bang, scoring the first three goals of the second half. For the second time, Pannell fed Mock for an easy goal, this time on a two-man advantage. Tommy Palasek then netted his first of the night off a feed from David Earl before Pannell finally scored a goal of his own to tie the game at seven apiece.
Right when it looked like New York had grabbed all the momentum, Ohio got a goal from an unlikely source, as faceoff specialist Eric O’Brien caught a feed from Kyle Hartzell and ripped a shot past Drew Adams.
After a goal coast-to-coast goal from New York defender Michael Skudin, it looked like the game would be heading into the fourth quarter tied at eight. But Ohio captain Chazz Woodson had other plans.
After a missed shot, Woodson picked up the ball on the endline with three seconds left in the quarter. As soon as the whistle blew, Woodson sprinted towards the goal, took off from well behind the net, and did his best Michael Jordan impersonation, changing direction in midair and putting the ball past Adams right before the clock expired. The goal put Ohio up 9-8 heading into the final frame.
For the fourth time in as many quarters, New York struck first, this time on Pannell’s second of the night. Matisz briefly put Ohio back on top with his third goal of the game, but Marasco and Earl scored consecutive goals to give New York it’s first lead since the first quarter.
The run continued when Marasco and Pannell scored back-to-back goals to put the Lizards up 13-10.
A Stanwick goal briefly put some wind back into the Ohio sails, but Marasco tallied his third goal of the game with just over a minute left to make it 14-11, and put the outcome of the game largely out question.