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Bandits lose heartbreaker to Knighthawks

Buffalo Bandits goalie Anthony Cosmo didn't need to be asked to speak to the media after Saturday's 11-10 loss to the Rochester Knighthawks. In fact, he volunteered for the job even before he hit the showers.

Cosmo, it seemed, had something to say about the game-winning goal by Brad Gillies.

"This was a big match for both teams, and it's really going to ... when the referee sees that the winning goal was scored by a guy whose foot was in the crease," Cosmo said. "If we don't make the playoffs, that's a big swing. Hopefully, this league's got to figure things out.

"That's a big turn of events. To call it in the crease and not call it in the other end - I hope it doesn't come back and" haunt the team this season.

Buffalo coach Troy Cordingley wasn't happy either, but passed on the opportunity to talk about the officiating.

"Don't get me started," he said.

But Cordingley and the rest of the Bandits knew that they probably shouldn't have been in a position to let a close call pick the winner. Buffalo was the better team for 45 minutes.

"We started off slowly," Cordingley said. "They were up, 2-0, and we sat back on our heels. Then Coz made some good saves, and the defense got comfortable until the fourth period."

On offense, the Bandits couldn't have asked for more out of veteran Ryan Benesch. The forward returned from a concussion that cost him more than a month of play. He finished the game with four goals.

"I was all right," Benesch said after the game. "I was a little slow out there. I've been doing as much as I could, but you can only do so much for the most part.

"There's nothing you can do with that except sit and wait to get better. Those first few days, you're almost hoping to be shot. But it gets better."

Cordingley added about the output by Benesch, "That's his job, to score goals. He had some speed out there to create some chances. It's good to have him back."

Dhane Smith and Mitch Jones had six points each, and Mark Steenhuis added five. There wasn't much scoring from other sources, but it looked like it would be enough. That's because Buffalo did a good job of preventing Rochester from getting many great opportunities. And when the Knighthawks did get one, Cosmo turned them away.

"We were playing really well," defender Mitch de Snoo said. "What did they have, three goals at halftime?"

An 8-5 lead looked really safe early in the fourth quarter, considering the way the game had gone at that point. But Rochester scored three goals in less than a minute relatively early in the fourth quarter to change the complexion of the game completely.

"They kept coming," Cosmo said. "Credit them. They took some great shots, and they didn't quit when they had the chance. We have to do a better job of controlling the ball."

"We did it to ourselves," de Snoo said. "We can't waste three good quarters like that."

From there, it was back and forth the rest of the way. Smith and Jones had goals down the stretch for Buffalo, while Kyle Jackson scored twice for the Knighthawks. Jackson finished as the game's leading scorer with three goals and five assists for eight points.

"The kid's good," Cosmo said about Jackson. "It's a credit to him how tough he is to defend."

Gillies capped the six-goal period by Rochester with his goal, and the Knighthawks killed off the rest of the time to take the victory.

It was Buffalo's second straight loss in Blue Cross Arena in three weeks, and they were both heartbreaking. Rochester won the previous game in overtime.

The defeat gives the Knighthawks the edge in a division tiebreaker. It also prevented Buffalo from reaching the .500 mark. The Bandits slipped to 5-7 on the season. They will have to earn a playoff spot, as the remaining schedule is loaded with good teams.

But at least Buffalo won't be playing in Rochester anytime soon.

"They play well in this building," Cosmo said about the Knighthawks. "They get the bounces here. They were getting them when I came in here with other teams.

"The lacrosse gods just seem to be with them here."

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