Black Wolves stung by the Swarm 21-12

Mohegan — The game wasn't without highlights for the New England Black Wolves:

Sheldon Burns caused a turnover and steamrolled the length of the floor with 1 minute, 23 seconds remaining in the first half Friday night to pull the Black Wolves within four after what seemed like a hopeless start.

Later, a fight involving New England points leader Shawn Evans drew a chant of “Sha-wn Ev-ans!” from a crowd of 5,205 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

None of that was enough to hearten Black Wolves coach Glenn Clark after his team, in the midst of a playoff race, lost to the first-place Georgia Swarm 21-12, including a first quarter which essentially ruined things for New England.

Georgia led 6-1 after the first quarter and outshot the Wolves 21-6.

“We were horrible. We were as bad as we could be,” Clark said, as the Black Wolves dropped below .500 once again at 7-8. “… It's the totality of the game. I'm not going to celebrate one play here and there. You're in your home building. You've got fans.

“Maybe sometimes you've got to hit rock bottom. You're at home and you lose like that?”

Randy Staats finished with five goals and six assists for Georgia (10-4) and Kiel Matisz and Johnny Powless scored three goals each.

The latest the Black Wolves were in contact with the Swarm came in the third quarter.

Down 13-6, the Wolves got goals from Joel Coyle in transition, on a one-hopper from Kevin Crowley, who finished with three goals and three assists, and from Kevin Buchanan assisted by Evans to bring the score within 13-9.

New England specialist Jay Thorimbert then won the face-off, giving the Wolves the ball back. Evans scored, celebrating with an uppercut of a fist pump, as it appeared the team was within three. The goal, however, was disallowed.

That was followed almost immediately by a Georgia goal by Jordan Hall, which was also reviewed. That goal was upheld, pushing the margin back to five at 14-9.

“No, you can't come out slow like that,” said Crowley, who has scored in every game this year and leads the Wolves with 36. “You can't do that. We got ourselves down. It felt like we were down and just getting the boots laid to us. We came out slow on the offensive end. We took a lot of dumb penalties; you can't win short-handed.”

The Black Wolves, who started the season 0-3 and were 3-6 at one point, had fought their way to 7-7 with a 4-1 start to commence the second half of the season. New England came into Friday's game with a game-and-a-half lead over Buffalo for the third and final playoff spot in the National Lacrosse League's East Division, hoping to replicate last season's postseason run.

The Wolves beat the Swarm on March 12 at Mohegan Sun, 13-8.

From the start this time, however, Georgia was playing at full speed.

Staats scored twice, New England's Bill O'Brien was penalized for a check from behind and Georgia scored on the ensuing power play on a goal by Miles Thompson to make it 3-0.

Clark called the evening as a whole “embarrassing.”

“We can't hold hands at this level,” Clark said. “These were mental, mental, hand-holding errors … guys losing assignments, guys over-running balls. Maybe it's personnel. Maybe we need to get different guys who can get the job done.”

Buchanan added two goals for the Black Wolves, who next play April 15 at Saskatchewan. The Wolves have a pair of road games before returning for their home finale against Vancouver on April 29.

• Friday's game started with an honorary face-off between Chris Hogan of the New England Patriots, signed for a day by the Black Wolves, and Georgia's Lyle Thompson.

Hogan, a wide receiver for the Super Bowl champion Patriots, was a two-sport standout in high school before playing midfield for the men's lacrosse team at Penn State, graduating in 2010. He later signed with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent before joining the Patriots as a free agent prior to the 2016-17 season.

He started 14 games for the Patriots and caught 38 passes for 680 yards and four touchdowns.

v.fulkerson@theday.com

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