It’s not your typical summer job, but Atlanta Blaze attacker Kevin Rice isn’t complaining.
In three weeks, Rice, a former Syracuse University lacrosse star, will take the bar examination in hopes of becoming a full-time attorney. During the past three summers – when he’s not been attending Wake Forest’s law school – Rice is earning extra cash has one of the top attackers in Major League Lacrosse.
Rice scored four times and Christian Cuccinello and Connor Kelly each added three goals to lead the Atlanta Blaze past the Charlotte Hounds, 16-10, Saturday night before a crowd of 1,003 at MUSC Health Stadium.
With a month left in the regular season, the Blaze, snapped a five-game losing streak, and improved to 4-6. The Hounds dropped to 6-5.
For the past three summers Rice had been a full-time law student at Wake Forest, but since graduating in May, he’s concentrating on passing the bar, which he is scheduled to take in late July. With salaries in the MLL ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 for four months of work, Rice said the extra money came in handy when he was in school.
“As a law student it’s nice money, it’s a lot better than going out and trying to find a summer job,” said Rice, who leads the Blaze with 50 points on 24 goals and 26 assists this season. “I love the game and I’m getting paid to still play. The season starts in April, so it’s tough to juggle the studying and training, but it’s not too bad. You can always find a couple of hours each day to workout between classes and studying.”
Charlotte was forced to play without two of its top attackers in Ryan Brown and Matt Rambo, who have combined to score more than 50 goals this season. The Hounds grabbed an early two-goal lead but watched as the Blaze reeled off five straight goals to take control of the game.
Atlanta specialist Joe Nardella won 22 of 29 faceoffs as the Blaze dominated possession throughout the game.
“We were forced to play a lot of defense because of Nardella,” said Charlotte coach Jim Stagnitta. “If don’t have the ball in this league, it’s hard to win.”
The Blaze led 9-4 at halftime. Charlotte’s Dylan Maltz scored to close the gap to 9-5, but the Blaze got goals from Rice, Deemer Class and Kelly to push their advantage to 12-5 midway through the third quarter.
“When you lose a couple of games, it starts to creep into the minds of the players and the coaching staff,” said Atlanta coach Liam Banks. “We’d been close the last couple of games, but we pushed through that door tonight. It’s seems like Kevin has four goals every night, he’s very skilled. Playing in Charleston, playing in another city that doesn’t see the sport a lot is always fun for the guys.”
The MLL will hold its championship game on Aug. 18 at MUSC Health Stadium.