Uncasville – The New England Black Wolves return to the National Lacrosse League playoffs for the third straight season, but will begin the quest for the Champions Cup on the road against the second-seeded Rochester Knighthawks Friday evening at 7:30 p.m.
The Black Wolves (9-9) are seeded third as a result of a 16-11 loss to the defending champion Georgia Swarm (11-7) on Sunday at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Beginning the night with a three-game winning streak, New England had a chance to clinch the top spot in the East, along with a bye and home field for the East Division Finals. Instead, the Swarm are the top seed and will await the winner of the game between Rochester and New England.
The Black Wolves overcame a 5-0 deficit, rallying to tie the game 7-7 at halftime. But Georgia scored five of the first six goals in the second half – Lyle Thompson and Jordan Hall each scored twice while Jesse King scored once – and New England could not get closer than three the rest of the way.
Kyle Buchanan led New England with four goals and a pair of assists while Kevin Crowley finished off the best year of his career by collecting two goals and two assists. He finished the season with a league-high 51 goals, the most ever scored by a player in a Black Wolves’ uniform. Stephan Leblanc (two goals, five assists) and Colton Watkinson (two goals) also contributed to the attack.
Lyle Thompson (four goals, four assists) led a balanced Georgia attack. Randy Staats (two goals, five assists), Kiel Matisz (two goals, three assists), Miles Thompson (two goals, three assists), Shayne Jackson (two goals, two assists) and Hall (two goals, two assists) all struck multiple times.
New England returns to Rochester for the second time in 14 days. The Black Wolves completed a three-game sweep of the season series against the Knighthawks back on April 21, winning 11-6. The Black Wolves will travel to Rochester looking to advance to the East Division Finals for the second time in three years.