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Tired Bandits lose second game of weekend

In the third quarter of their game with the Georgia Swarm Saturday night, the Buffalo Bandits looked like the warning light on the dashboard was telling them they were almost out of gasoline.

And in the fourth quarter, the gauge was firmly on empty.

The Swarm scored 11 goals in the second half as they overpowered the Bandits, 19-15, before 14,515 in First Niagara Center. It was the most goals given up by a Buffalo team since April 6, 2013, when the Bandits allowed 21 in a loss in Minnesota.

“We were totally dominated in the second half,” Buffalo coach Troy Cordingley said. “Loose ball retrieval, second chances, third chances – they took a toll on us. We’re not playing well defensively right now. We’re awful.”

It was the Bandits’ second loss in as many nights, and it certainly looked as if the schedule took a toll.

“It wasn’t the outcome we were hoping for,” goalie Anthony Cosmo said. “They kept coming, and we didn’t have any answer for them.”

The Bandits’ first home loss of the season was also noteworthy because it came against a Swarm team that was dominated by Buffalo in Georgia only six days ago. The Bandits took a 21-14 win there last Sunday.

“There was nothing new,” Anthony Malcom said. “They just capitalized and we didn’t.”

It was the type of game that played into the hands of the Swarm, which had been sitting around Buffalo relaxing on Friday night while the Bandits were losing in Toronto. The first half featured plenty of goals, a couple of major penalties, and a good amount of emotion.

Not helping was the fact that Buffalo lost Mark Steenhuis for much of the third quarter to penalty calls – a minor and a misconduct.

“Mark had 12 minutes in the box and that was really tough on our O,” Malcom said. “That’s really tough to have a guy down with the style of play they play.”

The Swarm got a couple of quick goals to tie matters, and the game stayed close for the rest of the third quarter. The Bandits probably should have gotten a lift when Cosmo made his 41st save of the night, and thus broke the National Lacrosse League’s all-time record with 6,471 saves. It was a slow-motion floater of a shot from close range – perhaps the easiest save of his career.

“I’ll take it,” he said. “It’s a good record to have. It’s a credit to my teammates over the years.”

On the very next shot, Cosmo took the ball on the same spot on his knee which had been injured for the last three games. The veteran returned for the fourth period, but the Swarm was ready to take charge. They scored five goals in 3 minutes, 8 seconds to gain control completely.

By that point, Buffalo was almost defenseless. Georgia rolled up eight goals in the final period, and finished the game with 73 shots on goal. While the Bandits don’t keep a record for most shots allowed in a game, it’s a staggering number.

“We just didn’t have any will tonight,” Cordingley said. “We just got outworked. It’s simple.”

Dhane Smith had four goals and seven assists for 11 points. Steenhuis and Malcom had three goals each. For the Swarm, Johnny Powless and Jesse King led with three goals each. Five of their teammates scored two each.

After a bad weekend of play, the Bandits find themselves at the .500 mark with a 4-4 record – just like Georgia. The schedule does Buffalo no favors now, as the Bandits play defending champion Saskatchewan on the road Friday night.

“We have to rebound,” Cordingley said. “Everyone has some adversity every year, and we have to find a way to challenge ourselves and be better.”