For fifty-seven minutes of play, the Washington Stealth either tied or lead the Rochester Knighhawks (3-4) in tonight’s National Lacrosse League match-up at the Blue Cross Arena. Rochester’s thirteenth goal of the night came with 2:26 left in regulation, in the midst of a five-goal run that closed out a 15-12 victory and dropped the Stealth’s record to 1-5 on the year.
Lewis Ratcliff scored the first goal of the game just over two minutes into the first quarter. Knighthawks defender Pat McCready tied the score just 40 seconds later. It was the first goal of three for McCready on the night; the first hat trick of his 17-year career.
With the score tied at two late in the opening frame, Matt Beers and Rhys Duch scored back-to-back goals to give the Stealth a 4-2 lead after one. It was just one of two times in the game the Stealth scored two straight goals.
“We continued to trade goals with them throughout the game,” said Stealth assistant coach Art Webster. “We had plenty of opportunities to extend our lead beyond one or two goals and didn’t capitalize.”
Rhys Duch lead the Stealth offense in the first half, completing his first half hat trick just thirty seconds into the second quarter to make it 5-3 Stealth. After a pair of goals by Rochester’s Craig Point, Brett Bucktooth closed out the second quarter scoring to give the Stealth a 6-5 lead at the halftime break.
In the second half, the Stealth gained its largest lead of the game after goals by Mike Grimes and Duch made it 8-5 less than two minutes into the third quarter. Rochester battled back with three of the next four goals of the quarter to make it 9-8 with 15 minutes left to play.
The Stealth’s newest member, Athan Iannucci, scored his first goal of the season 2:45 into the fourth quarter to extend the lead to two. Iannucci, who didn’t have a chance to practice with his new teammates before joining the team in Rochester, learned the offense on the fly and finished with a goal and two assists.
“There are still things that need to get ironed out up front, but the ball moved well for most of the game with Iannucci in there,” said Webster. “But we are still allowing too many transition opportunities as we switch from offense to defense.”
The Knighthawks scored five transition goals in the game, including two in the fourth quarter.
Ratcliff scored a pair of power play goals in the fourth, the second of which gave the Stealth a 12-10 lead with 6:30 left in regulation. The Stealth power play unit wet 2-for-3 in the game.
With 5:16 on the clock, McCready scored his third goal of the game to make it 12-11. That goal sparked five unanswered by the Knighthawks. Joe Walters gave Rochester its first lead of the game, 13-12, with 2:26 remaining, followed by a Johnny Powless goal and a Brad Self empty-netter to give the Knighthawks a 15-12 victory at home.
“We failed to make some important adjustments on the back end,” said Webster of the final five minutes of the game. “Lacrosse is a game of momentum and they scored a few in a row and we lost control of the game.”
Ratcliff led the Stealth offense with four goals and three assists; he has 20 points in his last three games. Duch also had four goals before an injury limited his action late in the game. Tyler Richards made 47 saves in the loss.
The Knighthawks got three goals and two assists apiece from Point and Mike Accursi. McCready had a hat trick and added an assist while Powless finished with two goals and an assist. Goaltender Matt Vinc made 50 saves.
The Stealth returns home for its next game on February 24. They take on the Minnesota Swarm at 7:45pm at the Comcast Arena. Tickets for the game are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 877-MY-75-TIX or at www.stealthlax.com.