It took the Baltimore Thunder awhile to get going, but once it got under way, it was relentless last night.
Before a crowd of 7,671 at the Baltimore Arena, the Thunder fell behind the Boston Blazers, 6-4, at the end of the first quarter, then rallied for a 21-14 Major Indoor Lacrosse League season-opening victory.
Jeff Jackson and Matt Kerwick scored four goals each to lead the Thunder scoring, and Tom Manos and Steve Dietrick played superbly in the Baltimore goal. Manos, who played 2 1/2 quarters, had 30 saves and two assists, and Dietrick, a rookie from Canada, had 13 saves.
"It's nice to score four goals and be named the Most Valuable Player in the game, but the key thing is to be able to play on a team like this that comes together when it has to," said Jackson, the Thunder captain.
"It got a little scary when we fell behind, but we got a severe tongue-lashing from our coach and we figured it was easier to win the game than suffer John Stewart's wrath, which can be pretty bad. Stewart told us that we could turn the game around in a matter of minutes. What we needed was some momentum. We went out and got the job done."
Walt Cataldo paced Boston with three goals. Sowell, Pat Welsh and Todd Curry had three assists each for Baltimore.
"I just told the team that four goals in this game can come in a matter of a minute or two and you can go from behind into a lead very quickly," said Stewart, who is in his fifth year as Thunder coach.
"We had lost an exhibition game [21-20 in overtime to the Detroit Turbos on Dec. 14 in Chicago] a couple of weeks ago by blowing a four-goal lead in the last couple of minutes. I didn't want that to happen again."
On the play of Jackson, Stewart said: "He doesn't only score for you; he is a complete player. He plays defense, is unselfish with his passes and plays the field well. He is a real all-pro in my book."
Stewart also said he was pleased with the play of his goalies.
"I wanted to go with Manos as long as possible, because I didn't know if Dietrick was ready," Stewart said. "Manos did splendidly and played until he was so tired he had to come out. Dietrick also did a fine job. I'm very pleased with the goaltending situation."
The Thunder also had four goals disallowed because of players in the crease.
Jackson said: "This is a great thrill for us to play this game. You come from college or club ball, where you play before a couple of hundred fans and play in a building like this with so many people cheering for you. It's a great feeling."