The San Francisco Dragons had plenty of reason for optimism heading into this weekend’s home-and-home doubleheader against the Los Angeles Riptide.
They could essentially lock up a playoff berth with a pair of victories against their West Coast rival, and they could once again count on their star, Major League Lacrosse’s leading scorer, Ryan Powell, who rejoined the team after a 10-day absence because of commitments to the U.S. national squad.
Suffice it to say, things didn’t exactly go as planned.
After getting shellacked 17-10 in L.A. on Saturday, the Dragons returned home with a sloppy, inconsistent effort on Sunday at Kezar Stadium, losing 15-11 to fall to 5-4 for the season, just one game ahead of Los Angeles, which improved to 4-5.
The Riptide bottled up Powell (one goal) and forced the Dragons into a number of offensive mistakes.
"We didn’t come out with the urgency and intensity we should have," said midfielder Jarrett Park. "Now, we know what we have to do, and that’s pretty much win out the rest of our games."
The normally explosive Dragons appeared lethargic and uninterested in Sunday’s opening quarter, falling behind 5-0, due in large part to hot-shooting attacker Andrew Combs (7 points on the day), who registered a hat trick just 6:28 into the game.
However, as the sizzling afternoon wore on, the Dragons gamely battled back. They surged to take a 10-9 lead in the third quarter behind goals from five different players — Tom Zummo, Tim Booth, Joe Yevoli, Matt Alrich, and Nate Watkins.
But as soon as momentum appeared to be on the Dragons side, L.A. quickly snatched it back, getting a tying goal from Dan Cocchi with just 15 seconds left in the third. The Riptide rode that late tally into the final quarter, notching two quick scores to take a two-goal lead that they would not relinquish.
"We just didn’t take good enough care of the ball," Dragons coach Brian Silcott said. "We were sloppy on offense — throwing away balls, and taking some questionable shots, and they really took advantage of that."
The Dragons will begin that quest Saturday in Rochester, before closing out the season with home games the following weekends against L.A. and Chicago.