By Tim Panaccio, Inquirer Staff Writer
Gary Martin and John Holthaus aren’t exactly household names to fans of the Philadelphia Wings.
Until last night, they had combined for just three goals this season – all by Martin.
This morning, however, they’re local lacrosse heroes.
Martin scored three goals and Holthaus two as the Wings defeated the Pittsburgh Bulls, 11-9, before 13,712 at the Spectrum.
“My very first game against Washington four years ago, I got a hat trick, so it’s been a long time between them,” said Martin. “I was an attack man in college (Penn State), and in this league, I have been more of a defensive player. I had enough shots in the past, but tonight they finally went in.
“Maybe it had something to do with my mother. She came all the way from Pompano Beach (Fla.) to see me play. I think I’ll keep her here.”
Ball possession was the key as the Wings (3-4) controlled play in the second half, patiently setting up for the good shot and working the ball, side to side.
The Bulls fell to 2-4.
The Wings scored three goals in the first 6 minutes, 36 seconds of the third quarter, erasing a two-goal deficit to pull ahead for good at 8-7.
Two of those goals came from Martin while the third was scored by Scott Gabrielsen (two goals).
Holthaus, a rookie, made it 9-7 at 11:37 as he picked up a loose ball in the crease and fired it past Kevin Bilger for his first goal of the season.
Holthaus scored again early in the final quarter and then Mark Hahn, who had two goals on the night, scored a power play goal at 5:24 to give the Wings a cushion at 11-8.
The Wings entered last night’s match 1 1/2 games behind the Baltimore Thunder (4-3) in the American Division.
Fittingly, the Wings’ final two games of the season are against Baltimore, with St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) marking the Wings’ final regular-season home appearance.
The Bulls jumped all over the Wings early – as have most teams this season – consistently outsprinting the Wings’ defense with quick outlet passes.
Brian Nikula and Sandy Harrison scored in the first five minutes to give the Bulls a 2-0 lead.
Pittsburgh scored five breakaway goals on Wings’ goalie Dallas Eliuk and held a 7-5 halftime lead.
John Wilson and Bob Martino were partially responsible with their deep outlet passes that seemed to catch the Wings’ flat-footed.
In what is becoming an alarming trend, the Wings lost every footrace up the carpet on one-on-one or two-on-one breakaways, leaving Eliuk to face most shots head-on.
Bulls goalie Bilger, who guided the Wings to the 1989 Major Indoor Lacrosse League championship, made several nice saves, including two arm deflections on Tony Resch and Paul Deniken.
The Wings managed to take the lead three times in the first half, the last time coming at 4:43 of the second quarter, when John Conley’s 20-footer gave them a 5-4 edge.
(Philadelphia Inquirer, March 1, 1991)