The margin for error when it comes to the New York Riptide qualifying for the National Lacrosse League playoffs is down to zero.
Saturday night’s disappointing 13-8 defeat to visiting Georgia in the home finale at Nassau Coliseum dealt a serious blow to the Riptide’s playoff chances. The result left it with the likelihood of needing to win each of its last four games and get some help along the way to extend the season into May.
“Our second half was better, but with a team like that you cannot afford a slow start,” Riptide head coach Dan Ladouceur said. “We came out flat and let them dictate pace and spacing in our end.”
Georgia opened the matchup with six straight goals and led comfortably from start to finish. The Swarm, which got five goals and four assists from Andrew Kew, a hat trick and four assists from Lyle Thompson, and six assists from Shayne Jackson, jumped the Riptide (4-10) in the East Division standings. Both teams have four victories, but Georgia has played two fewer games.
Jeff Teat continued his hot pace to set a NLL single-season scoring mark. His four goals and three assists lifted him to 113 points and he’s also just one goal shy of the 50-goal plateau. Teat fired 22 shots on goal. Connor Kearnan, Mike Burke, Tyler Digby and Scott Dominey added tallies for New York, which visits Georgia this Friday at 7 p.m. to complete the home-and-home set.
“Coach Laddy said ‘be on your toes’ and we weren’t on our toes, and we paid for it,” Dominey said.
Burke got the Riptide on the scoreboard with 2:35 remaining in the first quarter. By that time, most of the damage was done. The Swarm scored less than a minute into the game (Thompson) and was running on all cylinders on the offensive end.
New York’s deficit was 7-1 after the opening quarter and swelled to 9-1 after Thompson and Kew found the back of the net in a span of 44 seconds early in the second. The Riptide scored four of the next five and showed some life, slicing the gap to 10-5, but that would be as close as the hosts could get.
The second half featured only five goals. Goaltender Brett Dobson made 42 stops for Georgia; Cameron Dunkerley 26 for New York.
Special teams were also a factor. The Swarm went 2-for-3 on the power play while the Riptide cashed in only one of five man-up opportunities.
“They got a couple of goals that trickled in or were deflected in, and when we aren’t scoring, those hurt even more,” Ladouceur said.
Following this Friday’s game, New York concludes the regular season with April trips to Buffalo (11-3), Halifax (7-7) and Vancouver (4-10.)