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Mental errors, clutch Duch doom Bandits

Brenden Thenhaus celebrates one of his three goals against Washington.

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

Losing to a team that’s simply better for sixty minutes is understandable.  Losing to a team that’s in overtime for the second consecutive night, missing its captain, 2600 miles from home and on the ropes with 34 seconds left is a little less excusable. 

The Buffalo Bandits—handed a golden opportunity to seize sole possession of first place in the NLL with losses by Calgary and Toronto earlier in the night—failed to capitalize, falling to the Washington Stealth 10-9 in overtime in front of a sell-out HSBC Arena crowd. 

With 34 seconds left and the Bandits nursing a 9-8 lead, Washington looked cooked; the Stealth had just committed a 30 second shot clock violation, and Buffalo could run the game clock down to four seconds with a smart possession. 

Instead of running clock, Mark Steenhuis, on a two-on-one break with John Tavares, fired a shot high at backup goalie Matt Roik’s stick, looking to seal the game.  Washington quickly recovered after Roik parried away the shot; Paul Rabil took off in transition and fed Rhys Duch (three goals, four assists) on the weak-side to tie the score with nine seconds left.  Only a week ago, Duch downed Boston on a screen shot as time expired.

“Mark took a stupid shot, three guys didn’t react and watched him take a stupid shot, and it ends up with a fastbreak in the last ten seconds.  We deserved to lose that game.  We’re the stupidest team on the face of the planet right now,” said head coach Darris Kilgour, never one to mince words.

Buffalo’s offense showed signs of nerves in overtime; several long shots failed to threaten Roik, and there was little movement off the ball by the orange and black.  Stealth forward Cam Sedgwick gunned a low shot past Goodleaf with over five minutes gone in overtime, ending a game that Buffalo deserved to lose.

“The offense didn’t do nothing the last three quarters [and overtime].  Five [goals] in the first quarter, four the rest of the game,” Kilgour said with obvious frustration.

When pressed on why the Buffalo offense was silenced after bolting out to a 5-2 advantage, Kilgour pointed to effort.  “Our offense changed sloppily—the third and fourth and fifth guy were jogging off the floor, and they [Washington] were busting up the floor.  They had a lot more chances on the fastbreak.”

Brenden Thenhaus (three goals) was the Bandits’ most dangerous attacker on a night where Tavares, aside from a pretty hidden ball trick goal, Steenhuis, and Bucktooth were near invisible. 

“We started trying to do a little more by ourselves rather than moving the ball side-to-side, and it carried over to the second half,” Thenhaus explained.

Asked for his interpretation of the lackluster offensive effort late in the contest, Thenhaus said: “It’s tense times, right?  Guys don’t want to be the one to make the mistake and take a bad shot.  I think we were looking for a good chance—and I think we had some good chances—but we have to choose better shot selection and stop shooting at [Roik’s] stick.”

“It’s a real sour taste in our mouth to hear that both Toronto and Calgary lost tonight,” Thenhaus admitted. 

Buffalo travels on the road next weekend for two crucial matches; the Bandits play the Rock at the Air Canada Centre on Friday night before taking on Rochester Saturday night.

“We still have eyes on first place,” all-star defender Chris White reinforced.  “That’s our main goal right now.”

TAGGED: buffalo bandits, john tavares, lacrosse, nll, nll lacrosse, rhys duch, washington stealth

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