Sowers’ crease-dive beauty wins it for the Waterdogs, 15-14

By Lauren Merola | Aug 1, 2022

Off the skip pass from Kieran McArdle, Michael Sowers caught the ball, tucked it under Jack Kielty, dove and buried it in the back of the net to score the winning goal in the Waterdogs’ 15-14 victory over the Cannons in Dallas on Sunday.

Sowers posted four points (3G, 1A) and McArdle had seven (3G, 4A). The only player in the Premier Lacrosse League to put up more points in a single game this season was Will Manny with eight points (5G, 3A) in Week 3.

With their fourth win in a row, the Waterdogs improved to 4-3. The Cannons fell to 1-6.

“Trying to defend [Sowers] from behind is hard enough and then you run him out of the box and if he gets a pole or a shortie, it’s still so difficult to defend him,” McArdle said. “He creates a lot for our offense.”

After a 12-minute scoring drought, Jonathan Donville buried the Cannons’ second goal of the half to make it 15-10 with 6:39 left to play. Six seconds later, Stephen Kelly closed the gap to four. Another pair of goals – from Mark Cockerton and Andrew Newbold – put the Cannons within two with 46 seconds left on the clock.

Kelly won the next faceoff and the ball ended up in Lyle Thompson’s stick. He drew two and dumped it to Ryan Drenner, who caught the ball on the turf off the low pass and rocketed it through the legs of Dillon Ward to make it 15-14 with 23 seconds left.

“It was sort of a broken play,” Thompson said. “I threw a pass to Dren, it ended up being a sloppy bounce pass but Dren put it in the net.”

Zach Currier came away with the final – and his only – faceoff to ice the game, despite intense pressure endline to endline from the Cannons. Currier was a vacuum on the ground, grabbing eight of the Waterdogs’ 37 groundballs.

“That was the first time all year we’ve been in a tight situation at the end of a game and I think we just haven’t practiced it and played it in a game situation,” Sowers said. “We were like chickens with our heads cut off when they went to double the ball with a minute left.”

There were a few new faces on the Cannons in Week 8. Cockerton, Donville, Newbold, Chris Aslanian and Alex Smith were activated on the roster as coach Sean Quirk looked for “new energy” from his team.

Cockerton had a hat trick, Newbold scored one goal and Aslanian and Donville each scored two.

“Mark Cockerton played for us for a while. He’s a goal scorer,” Quirk said. “He’s pretty familiar with our coaching staff. Andrew Newbold and Chris Aslanian have been pro for a while. Injecting some guys who know how to win and compete and have done it at this level. Alex Smith has familiarity with the three other Maryland rookies we have. It’s just about trying to build that continuity.”

Despite a roster remodel, Quirk said the chemistry will come because all his players put the team first.

“Our record is what it is but there hasn’t been one ego in that locker room,” Quirk said. “The changes we’ve made on the roster, we always look at that person first, the character of that young man and the leadership ability they bring. That’s first and foremost. The rest takes care of itself. There’s no other group I’d rather coach. Some faces change and some names change, but the philosophy and the culture remain the same.”

Mikie Schlosser and Ryan Brown were sidelined with injuries for the Waterdogs. Coach Andy Copelan said Mikie Schlosser is close to dressing for games and if the matchup against the Cannons was a playoff game, he would have played. Steven DeNapoli returned to the turf for the first time this season. He reminded everyone of his speed and tempo after he met net in transition.

[DeNapoli] is a great locker room guy. He’s a great energy guy. He got a goal out there today,” McArdle said. “He sparks it for our team.”

Charlie Kitchen also stepped in for the Waterdogs. In his first professional game, he scored a behind-the-back goal on Nick Marrocco’s doorstep. 

At the stripe, Jake Withers went 15-for-32 for 47%. Kelly went 17-for-33 for 52%.

In goal, Ward made 9 saves and Marrocco caught 16.

Heading into Week 9, the Cannons take on the Redwoods under the Friday night lights. The Waterdogs battle a second-seeded Atlas as they look to make a playoff push in the last three weeks of the regular season.