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Panther City Lacrosse Clubs Opens Season with Victory Over Vancouver Warriors

December 1, 2023 - National Lacrosse League (NLL) - Panther City Lacrosse Club News Release


Vancouver, BC - The Panther City Lacrosse Club opened their 2023-24 season with a decisive victory on the road, 11-7, over the Vancouver Warriors. The team has started 1-0 now in two consecutive seasons.

18-year veteran Callum Crawford led the way for Panther City as he recorded five goals on the evening and now is one goal shy of passing Mark Steenhuis for 10th place all time in NLL history for most goals scored.

The game was dominated by Panther City's defensive unit, as they never allowed more than three goals in a quarter including only allowing a single goal in both the second and third quarters.

Second-year forward and reigning NLL Rookie of the Year, Jonathan Donville scored the first goal of the season for Panther City as he found the net 3:16 seconds into the game. Donville finished with four points (1G/3A). Returning to Vancouver where he spent the previous five seasons, defenseman Brandon Goodwin went 3-3 from the dot in the first quarter, while also registering his first point in a Panther City jersey as he assisted on Donville's goal.

Panther City's offense awoke in the second quarter as the team scored three goals in the first 3:40 of the period with goals by brothers Tony and Will Malcom and rookie forward Ryan Sheridan scored his first career NLL goal. Goalie Nick Damude found his groove in the second quarter as he stopped 10 of the 11 shots he faced. Damude's play continued to build momentum for the defense as he stopped 25 of the 28 shots he faced in the second half and finished the evening stopping 45 of the 52 shots he faced for a .865 save percentage.

Crawford ended the first half with a snipe of a goal with 2.0 seconds remaining as Panther City took a 5-4 lead into halftime. Crawford's scoring streak would continue into the third as he scored the first three goals for PCLC, all within a three-minute span and was the lone visitor to score in the third frame.

Panther City's defense continued its strong play in the third quarter as they only allowed one goal. Defensively for the evening, Matt Hossack led the unit with 10 loose balls and three caused turnovers. Third-year defenseman Pat Foley was also stout all game for Panther City as he finished with five loose balls and two caused turnovers. As a team, Panther City forced 10 turnovers on the evening.

Panther City's offense was solid throughout the evening and the scoring was equally distributed as 12 different players recorded a point led by Crawford, W. Malcom (4 points - 1G/4A), Donville and Mathieu Gautier (4 assists). In his NLL debut, the Victoria, BC native, Sheridan recorded two points (1G/1A). Fellow rookie Jason Knox chipped in with two assists in his debut.

Panther City returns home to Fort Worth for their home opener next weekend as they face the Las Vegas Desert Dogs on Sunday, December 10 at 3:00 p.m. CT with broadcast coverage on Bally Sports Southwest Extra and ESPN+.

POST GAME QUOTES

HEAD COACH TRACEY KELUSKY

On the emotions after the opener night victory... "Obviously, they are high right now. It is a big win. For us - I am excited for those guys. I don't know if we had our best training camp, but we certainly went out and competed tonight. Our defense was unbelievable. The amount of shots that they soaked on the back end - reacting and holding their big guys to very limited points. I thought our 'D' was our backbone. That has been our identity the last couple of years. Our 'O' was a little sloppy, but those are easy clean ups there."

On who stood out defensively to him... "Mess [Evan Messenger] played a real good game. [Pat] Foley played well. Nicky Damude was there standing. Our captain - I don't know how many loose balls he had in the first half - I would be remiss if I didn't mention them all because I thought at times played real well. The best part of it was we played as a collective group back there."

On Callum Crawford... "I have said it before and I will say it again. 'Crawf 'can singlehandedly take over a game and he did tonight. He shot the ball real well. He is our leader. He is our offensive leader. Guys look to him when maybe we were fighting it a little bit. I loved his emotion on the bench and his leadership. The five [goals] are real good. The leadership is the stuff that we are working towards here and I thought he did a real good job of that."

On his message to the fans in Fort Worth in advance of the home opener next weekend... "I know some people in North Texas haven't seen us. We do have some faithful and we are looking forward to coming home. The boys love coming home to Texas. This is a great group. I'll say it and I will say it again. This is the fastest game on two feet. If you haven't come out and see us, come out and watch us because we have a real special group here that is going to do a lot of great things."

DEFENSEMAN EVAN MESSENGER

On his emotions following the victory and if the win is a little sweeter as he was in front of family and friends tonight back home "I can't even tell you - it feels great getting the first 'W' of the year with the boys. Connection is strong and the vibes are great. I have to say it definitely feels special winning in front of my hometown crowd with friends and family in the area. The win is the most important and I am glad I could share it with my friends and family who could be here."

On what clicked for him tonight defensively... "I trusted my instincts and there was a little less thinking to be honest and more just doing. We have great coaches back there who are teaching me and I am learning more and more every week. I am excited to keep building off that."

On the message heading into the home opener... "As always, what's next? We can always build and we can always be better. What's next?!

FORWARD CALLUM CRAWFORD

On as he enters year 18 in the NLL if playing lacrosse ever gets old to him... "No. I don't think anyone retires because they don't enjoy playing the game anymore. They retire because of the work that goes into playing the game. Every time you get to actually play, it is amazing. It reminds me why you do this thing. I am thankful I am able to still do it."

On why he was successful tonight... "They started to fall, but I got angry. #19 on their team chirped me while I was struggling in the first half and told me I was washed up and it lit a fire. I am a professional athlete and I have an ego, like anyone else that plays sports. That was the fuel I needed to prove I could still do it."

On the offensive mindset going into next weekend... "Keep rolling. Play together. Let the ball keep working. The first half wasn't great, but the first quarter was really bad. Second quarter we started playing together and the ball was going side-to-side. Clearly that was the recipe for success."


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