Garden Party for Gotham's New NLL Team
And what a start it was. Madison Square Garden held its inaugural professional lacrosse game on Saturday night, and the Titans threw a great first party. 13,127 screaming, towel-waving fans helped their home team gain their first win in franchise history with an 11-9 victory over the fellow expansion Chicago Shamrox. A rock concert atmosphere, with blaring music during the game, made for one extreme event.
"It was exciting. This is my seventh year in the league and I still had butterflies before the game," said winning goaltender Curtis Palidwor, who had 56 saves. "New York is an amazing city and we just fed off the excitement."
Part of that excitement was the rousing pre-game introductions, complete with the Titans Dance Team and mascot.
The game started out at a fast pace, with both goalies stonewalling their respective opponent's chances. A great save by Palidwor started a rush for the Titans, which resulted in a power play goal with 12:05 gone in the first quarter by forward Pat Maddalena, his first of two scores on the evening. Chicago got even only 44 seconds later. Ryan Boyle, the star forward of the Titans, lit the lamp with another power play tally with only four seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Boyle put the ball in the back of the net again only 57 seconds into the second quarter, this time with the teams at full strength. The Titans controlled the game throughout the stanza, and led by a score of 7-3 at halftime.
Chicago scored three goals to open the third quarter, and was within one goal of tying the game when Joseph Ghedina scored for the hosts. The goal of the game was next when Titans captain Casey Powell made a beautiful no-look, behind-the-back pass to set up Mike McLennan's second goal of the game. The Titans led after three, 9-6.
The Titans padded their lead to 11-6 before the Shamrox made a late run. Jason Clark scored a hat trick for the visiting squad, who cut it to 11-9 with exactly two minutes left, but could not get any closer.
"We got a W in front of the home crowd, and we can walk away satisfied," Boyle said. "I think we're getting there," he continued. "Every game we define our roles a little better."
The Titans improved their record to 1-2 on the young season, while Chicago suffered their first loss after opening the season with two wins.
The Titans will split their home games between Madison Square Garden and the Nassau Coliseum. Fans that go back a bit may recognize the team moniker as the original name of New York's American Football League entry in 1960. A few seasons later, they changed their name to the more recognizable Jets.