March 01, 1993 – By Bill Modoono
PITTSBURGH — There is danger in playing a team that has yet to win a game, but the Thunder — which had won only one game in the 1993 Major Indoor Lacrosse League season — knew all about it.
“Both of us were very hungry for a win,” said Rick Sowell, whose three goals and one assist helped the Thunder outlast the winless Pittsburgh Bulls, 16-14, before 6,275 at the Civic Arena on Saturday night.
The Thunder took the lead less than two minutes into the game and never fell behind, but still had to squirm and struggle to subdue the Bulls, who still have a shot to make the playoffs despite an 0-6 record.
The Thunder improved its record to 2-5 and their playoff chances. Six of the seven league teams will advance to the playoffs, and the Thunder has only a rematch at home March 12 with the Bulls remaining on its regular-season schedule.
The Thunder squandered two four-goal leads, and the Bulls crept within one goal in both the second and third quarters. But every time the Bulls got close, the Thunder had an answer.
The most emphatic answer came in the fourth quarter. After Pittsburgh’s Brian Nikula scored his third fourth-quarter goal to tie the score at 14 at 11:42, Pat Welsh scored his second goal at 13:10. Butch Marino added his third goal of the fourth quarter at 14:37 to clinch the victory.
The Thunder had been beaten during fourth-quarter collapses in its previous two games, so Saturday night’s victory was not taken for granted until the final whistle.
“It’s not which team is quickest in the first quarter that counts,” Thunder coach John Stewart said. “Most of these games are played in the fourth quarter.
“Our goalie [David Lee] kept us in the game the first half, and our faceoff guys did a good job of getting us the ball when we needed it.
“It just feels great to get a win. It’s been a long time coming.”
Lee finished with 41 saves, as Pittsburgh outshot Baltimore 59-53. Marino (three goals, two assists), Sowell (three, one), Jim Blanding (one, three) and Tony Millon (two, three) led the Thunder in scoring.