Redwoods earn emotional victory over Waterdogs, 19-16

By Katie McNulty | Jul 4, 2021


That was the word Redwoods goalie Jack Kelly used to describe today’s game. 

In 2018, Kelly was playing for the U.S Men’s National Team in the World Games in Israel when he tore his ACL, which forced Kelly to miss the remainder of the World Games and the following 2019 and 2020 seasons.

“I was sort of fighting back tears the entire game like I am now,” Kelly said. “It’s been a long road... It’s almost been three years to this day that I got hurt. It’s been a tough road, but I just sort of stayed with it.” 

Kelly’s five saves in the second half helped lead the Redwoods to a 19-16 win over the Waterdogs on Long Island to snap a two-game losing streak. 

Not only did Kelly get a win, but he also did it in the place he first started playing lacrosse. Kelly is from West Islip, New York.

It was Tim Troutner who earned the start, but Redwoods head coach Nat St. Laurent decided to go with Kelly in the second half. 

“It’s been coming,” St. Laurent said. “Him and Timmy have been battling. It’s just a couple of saves I thought Timmy wanted back. I made the decision with about five minutes to go in the second quarter. I walked by Jack and said, 'At halftime, we’re going to do it,' and he’s like, 'I’ll be ready.'"

In the postgame press conference, St. Laurent was holding onto one of the balls. When asked why he said he planned to give Kelly the game ball. 

“For Jack to be able to go home and get a win, it was really special,” St. Laurent said. “I’m happy to give him the ball.” 

Troutner and the Redwoods found themselves in a deep hole in the first half. They took a 2-1 lead early on in the first quarter, but the Waterdogs responded with a 4-0 run.

Jules Heningburg answered with a goal of his own, but it was Connor Kelly who hit a 2-pointer with 1.6 seconds left to put the Waterdogs up 7-3 at the end of the first quarter. Kelly leads the league in most attempted 2-pointers, but that was his first one to find the back of the net. Kelly also had a career-high day. He notched eight points. 

Two quick goals from the Redwoods cut their deficit to two, but the Waterdogs went on a 3-0 run to give them a five-point lead.

While it looked like the Waterdogs were going to pull away as the Redwoods couldn’t get anything going, they then went on a 5-0 run to end the first half. It was Sergio Perkovic who hit a crucial 2-pointer with time winding down to even things at 10 at the half. Perkovic led the team with eight points, which is a career-high.

The second half was a back and forth battle with scrappy play from both teams. Rain was pouring down and both teams were hungry to catch a win. But after Kyle Harrison and Perkovic each notched a goal, it would give the Redwoods the exact cushion they needed to hold onto their first win since week two. 

Not only did the Redwoods make a change with their goalie in the second half, but the Waterdogs did as well in the middle of the third quarter. Both goalies gave up 10 goals in the first half, so Charlie Cipriano came in for Ward to give the Redwoods offense a new goalie to shoot at. 

“It was something I was thinking about doing at halftime,” said Waterdogs head coach Andy Copelan. “Look, I have so much respect for Dillon Ward. He’s one of two guys in this league other than Michael Ehrhardt, who not only have a gold medal, but they also have a World Games MVP….The change wasn’t so much Dillon Ward as much as it was I felt like we needed a little bit of spark and newness.” 

The Waterdogs have a big doubleheader against the Cannons and Chrome next week in Minnesota, while the Redwoods will look to keep it rolling when they take on the Whipnsakes on July 10.

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