Despite establishing an early lead, the Florida Launch struggle to hold off the New York Lizards on home turf, falling 14-13.
Kieran McArdle and Sergio Salcido kicked things off for the Launch, scoring the only goals in the first quarter. McArdle kept the offensive momentum moving for the Launch early in the second quarter, tallying his second goal of the night. The Lizards, however, overcame their lack of momentum to score two back-to-back goals from Paul Rabil and Joe Locascio.
“I think we just stressed ball movement all throughout the week,” said McArdle, “we were really moving on ball, off ball. We were just clicking all around and that really showed.”
The Launch, however, would not let the scoring run continue, shutting down the Lizards scoring efforts with an early hat trick from McArdle and an MLL career first goal from first-round pick Jules Heningburg.
“It feels good. It’s awesome to get out here and finally start playing, it felt good to get out here and get my feet wet,” said Heningburg.
The insatiable Lizards offense closed the gap, however, putting up three consecutive goals to tie the game with just two minutes left in the first half. McArdle, faced with an opportunity to reclaim the lead, found the back of the net with just a minute left to put the Launch back in the lead as they returned to the locker room.
“They’re just a resilient team. Every time we came out on a run, they made a run also,” said McArdle.
Initiating a battle for the lead, the Launch and the Lizards traded shots throughout the third quarter, with Lizard’s Will Manny and McArdle leading the charge. After exchanging blows for 14 minutes, Dylan Molloy capped off his hat trick, asserting the lead for the Launch once more.
However, an unhinged Lizards offense came out firing in the fourth, scoring five unanswered goals to take the lead 12-10. Refusing to fall on home turf, the Launch quickly regrouped, tying the game with under four minutes left to play with a shot from midfielder Bryan Cole. A final, late-game push from Lizard’s Joe Walters left the Launch scrambling for a final shot to hopefully move into overtime. Struggling to find the back of the net, the Launch ultimately fell to the Lizards. The all-time series now stands at 5-4, Launch.
“I feel like this New York/Florida game, it’s always a one-goal, close game. They had opportunities, they capitalized,” said Coach Tom Mariano, “we had our opportunities, we capitalized. We just needed to make one or two more plays.”
The Launch close out their five-game homestand next week when they host the Dallas Rattlers on May 26 at 7 p.m.
PLAYERS OF NOTE
Kieran McArdle – 5 goals, 1 assist to lead the team in points
Jules Heningburg – 2 goals, 1 assists in first MLL career game.
Dylan Molloy – 4 goals
Ben Williams – 19 for 25 on face-offs for the night (76%)