Niagara Gazette — BUFFALO — It’s supposed to be a new era of Buffalo Bandits lacrosse, but for one night at least, the team’s play mirrored what led to the change.
Playing in its first game with a new head coach since 2003 Saturday night, with longtime coach Darris Kilgour fired in the offseason to make way for new bench boss Troy Cordingley following a disastrous 6-10 season, Buffalo failed its first test. Cordingley wants his team to be the hardest working in the National Lacrosse League, but in his eyes, it was far from that in a season-opening 17-13 loss at the hands of the Philadelphia Wings at First Niagara Center.
“We were taught a lesson,” Cordingley said. “We were outworked. We were outplayed. We were out-willed. We were out-everything. Our talk was cheap. Talk doesn’t win you games.”
It’s the type of loss that became common last year, as the Bandits were the lone team left out of the NLL playoff picture — lacking offense, defense and goaltending. Whenever the team showed glimpses of any on Saturday, consistency didn’t follow.
On three separate occasions in the first half, when the game was mostly in reach, Bandits’ goals were responded with Philadelphia tallies.
Still, Buffalo hung in there, down 4-3 after one. Ryan Benesch, playing in his first game as a Bandit after an offseason blockbuster landed the star in Buffalo, scored the Bandits’ first goal and finished with two goals and an assist.
Undisciplined play got the Bandits into trouble in the second, digging themselves a hole too deep to escape. It was something seen for much of last year, too.
Kevin Crowley opened the quarter’s scoring with 4:09 gone, firing a screen-less shot from about 25 feet out for a power-play goal. It’s one goalie Anthony Cosmo surely would have wanted back, and it served as a symbol of his night before the veteran was relieved by Kurtis Wagar following Philadelphia’s 13th goal late in the third.