Thunder rally falls short Saints take 15-13 victory

Team still in playoff hunt, says weary coach Tucker

March 08, 1997|By J. P. Pelzman | J. P. Pelzman,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- John Tucker sat on the floor outside his team's dressing room in the basement of the Nassau Coliseum last night. He seemed drained.

He had reason to be. Tucker, the first-year coach of the Major Indoor Lacrosse League's Thunder had just watched his team battle back from a four-goal fourth-quarter deficit only to lose, 15-13, to the New York Saints.

The loss dropped the Thunder to 2-6, assuring its sixth consecutive losing season. New York improved to 5-3 and needs only a victory or a Boston loss to clinch a playoff berth.

Tucker said he thought the Thunder still could reach the playoffs with wins in the last two games, at Rochester on March 22 and at Buffalo on March 29. If Baltimore sweeps those games, it may still need help from outside sources to reach the postseason.

"I thought our guys played extremely hard all the way," Tucker said. "There's no quit in our team. I think that was pretty evident."

Jeff Klodzen scored five goals and Bob Martino had four assists for the Thunder, who lost to the Saints for the second time in seven days. The Saints won in Baltimore, 16-12, last Saturday.

Matt Panetta led the Saints with five goals, but it was Jason Wulder's 8-yard shot off a pass from Steve Sombrotto with 2: 44 left in the game that secured the victory. The Thunder had rallied from a 14-10 deficit to within 14-13, but Wulder's goal stopped the comeback and ended the scoring.

"We played one of the best teams in the league to a virtual draw," Tucker said. "I didn't see a lot of difference between the two teams.

"We've got to make the most of our opportunities and we didn't. Whenever we have to make a big play, we seem to be unable to. It's very frustrating."

"We didn't take them lightly at all," said Panetta, whose five goals matched his total over the Saints' first seven games. He was filling in for usual first-team attackman Tyson Leies, who was out with a shoulder injury.

"They never quit," Panetta added. "Baltimore is never going to quit on you."

Panetta scored three third-quarter goals to help the Saints open a 14-10 lead entering the final quarter, but the Thunder got goals from Jeff Wills, Klodzen and Kyle Goundrey to pull within 14-13. ++ Goundrey's goal on an assist from Martino with 3: 16 left closed the deficit to one. Wulder's goal 32 seconds later sealed the outcome, as neither team was able to score after that.

New York goalie Sal Locascio made 38 saves, and Baltimore's Derek Collins had 32.

The Saints led 8-7 at halftime after Wulder and Ray Colsey scored goals in the last three minutes of the second period.

Pub Date: 3/08/97

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