ROCHESTER – “What a difference a week makes,” Buffalo Bandits coach Darris Kilgour said.
That was true for Anthony Cosmo, true for Luke Wiles, true for Dhane Smith, and true for the entire Bandits’ team.
Buffalo snapped back after an embarrassing home loss to the Rochester Knighthawks last week with an impressive performance against that same team in an immediate rematch. The Bandits knocked off the Knighthawks, 10-6, Saturday night before 9,156 in Blue Cross Arena.
The win allowed the Bandits to move into second place in the National Lacrosse League’s East Division with a 4-3 record, a game ahead of Rochester’s 3-4 mark, and ended a two-game losing streak.
“We had a good conversation on Tuesday night” at practice, Kilgour said. “We’ve got to believe in this team as coaches, we’ve got to believe in this team as an organization. We didn’t hit the panic button after the game.”
No one put last week’s game into the mental dumpster better than Cosmo, who seemed a little stunned by Rochester’s 15-goal total seven days before. Cosmo was the biggest reason why the Bandits rebounded, making 54 saves and never allowing the Knighthawks to gain much momentum.
“It was much different than last week,” the goalie said. “I was hot, and I was seeing the ball well. One hundred percent of the credit goes to my defense and the coaching staff. We changed the way we played on defense, and I didn’t have to go from post to post as much.”
Lacrosse goalies will say that they have a very good chance of stopping shots that they see released from a distance. That happened most of the night on Saturday.
“I got my confidence going,” Cosmo said. “When things are going well, the game almost seems to be played in slow motion. Credit my defense for that. They kept things to the outside. We switched up this week and tried to pack the middle.”
Not one Rochester player finished with more than one goal, which is unusual for such a powerful offensive lineup.
“I don’t think they were hitting their shots,” Kilgour said.
At the other end, Wiles finally broke out of his slump to lead the team with three goals. Wiles was quick with a quip last year when he led the team in goals with 39. But he had only scored four in six games entering Saturday.
Therefore, he was in a much better mood after helping his team get a needed win.
“It was real nice,” he said. “Chad Culp said to me, ‘Don’t say too much; that’s when you get yourself into trouble.’ As soon as I talk too much, people take me trying to be funny as overconfident. But, what a great team victory that was.”
The Bandits had the better opportunities for much of the night, as the results were apparent on the score sheet. Unlike last week, they had good looks at goalie Matt Vinc.
“They kind of play like we do, clogging up the middle so that Vinc could see the ball,” Wiles said. “So it was a matter of get in the middle, and get out of the middle quickly.”
The rookie Smith had cooled off a little after a good start, so he was thrilled to see a couple of his shots find the net. The first came late in the first half, and it gave the Bandits a lead that they kept the rest of the way. The other was in the third quarter, putting Buffalo up, 7-4, and it seemed to smother Rochester’s spirits.
“It was great to bounce back like that” from last week’s game,” Smith said. “We figured out our mistakes and corrected them.”
The Bandits now have a rare off week. After a win that stopped some bleeding, are they happy for the break? It depends who is doing the talking.
“I’m feeling pretty good right now,” Cosmo said. “Maybe I can get myself some floor time next week.”
“I kind of need the week off. I haven’t been too healthy this season,” Wiles said.
“We’ll nurse some injuries,” Kilgour added. “We want to get John Tavares back healthy, we want to get Kurtis Wagar back healthy. We’re really happy with the way the team is going and we want to keep plugging and try to get better.”
Buffalo’s next game will be Feb. 28 in Toronto against the Rock.