This season could be the last rodeo for Anthony Cosmo.
The 39-year-old goalie for the Buffalo Bandits is about to finish his 17th year in the National Lacrosse League. He heads into Saturday’s home game with the Georgia Swarm (7:30 p.m., Radio 1520 AM) not knowing how many more times he’ll be playing before the enthusiastic crowds at the KeyBank Center.
“My body is pretty beat up,” Cosmo said. “I’m missing a lot of my kids’ game and sporting events. I have another year on my contract, but I don’t know what I want to do. I’ve flip-flopped on it. I’m thinking that the way I feel right now, this might be my last year.”
A clue about Cosmo’s thoughts came last Friday in Toronto. The goalie believed it might be his last visit there as a player, so more than 60 friends and family members came to see the Ontario resident play. They sat in a group behind the Buffalo bench. Cosmo and the Bandits rewarded them with a good win.
Cosmo says he won’t make any final decisions about his future until after the current season ends. That’s a wise move, since it’s easy to become worn down during the course of the long season.
While the goalie says family issues would be a major reason to retire, he’s not receiving any pressure one way or another from his wife, Erin.
“It’s all up to me,” Cosmo said. “She’ll support me if I choose to play. I’ve talked to her many times about what I should do.”
If this is it, the netminder can look back and say he played at a high level for a long time. Cosmo was a backup for four years in Toronto, and then became a regular in San Jose and Boston before coming to Buffalo in a trade. Whenever he retires, Cosmo will have a good argument to someday join the league’s Hall of Fame. The veteran has more saves and played more minutes than any goalie in NLL history.
“I’ve played on some great teams,” he recalled. “I won three championships in Toronto at the start of my career, although I was a backup. I played with some great players. If I do end it this year I’ll have only one regret if we don't win it all - that I wasn’t a starter on a team that won a championship.”
Cosmo’s career almost came to an end when he was 34. He was picked up in a dispersal draft by Minnesota, but didn’t want to play that far from his Ontario home. Cosmo stayed home until he was traded to Buffalo. He’s been a Bandit for almost six years, and has broken some team records in that time.
“I consider Banditland my lacrosse home,” Cosmo said. “It’s my fourth team, and my fondest memories are here - even when playing against them. This is such a great place to play. It’s great to play in front of the fans here, because they have such knowledge of the game, and show passion for lacrosse. They appreciate it so much.”
Those fans are hoping the Bandits can extend their 2017 season by reaching the postseason. Buffalo has a path, but a narrow one.
If the Bandits win their last two games while the Rock loses their two games, Buffalo reaches the postseason. Toronto plays in Saskatchewan on Saturday night. The Bandits and Rock play a week later in Buffalo in a game that could mean nothing or everything.
“The great thing about this league is that it’s so close,” Cosmo said. “We’re not far off from our championship team. A lot of guys believe in what we have. For whatever reasons, the lacrosse gods have been against us.
“All we’re asking is for an opportunity. I just hopes Saskatchewan gives us a chance.”
No one in a Buffalo uniform is overlooking the task at hand, though. Georgia has beaten the Bandits twice in two tries this season, scoring 18 and 17 goals in the process. The Swarm already has wrapped up the NLL East Division title, and is looking to claim the best record in the regular season. Georgia is a young team that has become a beast almost overnight.
“If Georgia is not the best team in the league on offense, they are No. 2,” Cosmo said. “That have many quality scorers. Our job is to eliminate some of the chances. If we can keep them under 12 or 13 goals, we give ourselves a shot. Our offense can be dangerous. Hopefully, we’ll give them a run for the money.”
No matter how the games go, Cosmo certainly will take an extra look around the KeyBank Center in these last two games. He’s running out of chances to do so.
“It’s bittersweet,” the goalie said the dwindling days of his career. “I’m not sure what’s ahead, but I do want to appreciate what’s happened here. I might take the opportunities to reminisce a bit. But no matter what, I still want to go out on a high note.”
Saturday’s game has been designated as “Tucker Out Lymphoma Night,” in memory of Tucker Williams, the son of former Bandit Shawn Williams. A special $15 ticket offer for 300 level and 100 level (ends) is available, with two dollars from each ticket sold going to benefit pediatric cancer care. ... The Bandits-Swarm game will be televised on Twitter (@NLL).