The Washington Stealth finished their first training camp last weekend, and six months after the Stealth won the Champion’s Cup, the boys were ready to go. The team held three practices over the weekend and each one was highly competitive and incredibly fast-paced, causing Stealth Head Coach Chris Hall to call this training camp, “probably in my nine years in this league the best camp I’ve ever seen.”
The Stealth coaching staff knew going into the weekend that it was going to be tough to narrow the active roster down to 23 players, but even they were surprised to see the amount of skill displayed on the floor.
“There are a lot of really good lacrosse players out here and we’ve got some tough decisions to make,” said Hall following Sunday’s practice. “We could have ten more weeks of training camp and still struggle to narrow it down. It’s not a terrible problem for a coach to have,” he added with a laugh.
There was little doubt each of the 35 players was doing everything they could to impress the coaching staff, as the full scrimmages each day had the intensity of an NLL game played in April with a playoff spot on the line. It was fast and physical, as evidenced by this video from the camp’s opening session.
After boasting the league’s top-scoring offense a year ago (and with each member of that offense returning to camp), one of the Stealth’s priorities during the offseason was bolstering the defense. Along with names from last year like Mike Grimes, Curtis Hodgson, Matt Beers and Eric Martin, the Stealth brought in offseason acquisition Jeff Moleski, draft pick David Joyce and free agent Chris McElroy: guys that made their presence felt throughout the weekend.
“It wasn’t easy to score, that’s for sure,” said All-Pro forward Rhys Duch. “I think we scored less than five goals in each of the scrimmages. The defensive guys weren’t giving us much.”
All that said, the coaching staff has yet to make any decisions on the roster this early in training camp. All of the guys will be back this weekend to further plead their case and give it their all for a chance to play for the defending NLL champions.
If you missed out on last weekend’s open session, there are two opportunities coming up this weekend to see the guys in action at the Comcast Arena. The sessions on Saturday, December 11 from 10am-12pm and Sunday, December 12 from 8:30am-10:30am will be open to the public.