DENVER – Led by four Cliff Smith goals, the Washington Stealth netted its second consecutive win of the 2013 NLL season downing the Colorado Mammoth 17-13 on Saturday at Denver’s Pepsi Center.
It was the third time in franchise history and second since their 2010 NLL title season that Washington started their season at 2-0, this time on the road at the expense of the second-best team in the west during the 2012 season.
In a high-scoring, physical matchup, Washington scored first and never looked back.
“This leaves us knowing that we have a very good lacrosse team here,” said Washington Coach Chris Hall. “We knew we had a strong core of guys, but we needed to fine tune. Tonight with five rookies in the lineup, we know that those guys can step up in the league. It’s a great way to start a season.”
Despite several aggressive Colorado runs, one knotting the game at 6-6 just 3:15 into the second and a five-goal fourth that closed the gap to four with just over five minutes remaining, Washington applied pressure throughout the game keeping the Mammoth off balance in their home opener.
Smith’s four goals, which made for a second consecutive career night for the 6-3, 200 pound forward, were accompanied by hat tricks by the Stealth’s Rhys Duch, Lewis Ratcliff and a “natural hat trick” (three back-to-back goals) by Dean Hill to open scoring in the third.
Smith led all scorers with seven points (4g, 3a).
In the fourth, Colorado finally found their offense scoring five of six goals. With two final-stanza Mammoth scores in the books and the Stealth lead cut to 16-10, rookie Tim Henderson was whistled for a high elbow at 12:35, a major penalty. Playing short handed for next five minutes, the Stealth gave up another three, but Colorado was never able overcome the strong Washington start.
Colorado had several opportunities late in the game but were turned away by swarming Stealth defense and strong netminding by goaltender Nick Patterson.
“Our defense played great tonight. They really barred down in the fourth. They played great,” said the veteran Patterson who made his first NLL start as a member of the Stealth on Saturday.
“This (game) was extremely important, personally and for the team,” said Patterson. “The win built a lot of confidence for the team and for everybody.”
Along with Smith’s seven points, Washington leaders included Ratcliff with five points (3g, 2a), Athan Iannucci with five points on five assists, and Duch with four (3g, 1a).
Colorado was led by John Grant, Jr. with three goals and three assists for six points.
The Stealth next see action Sunday, Jan. 20 against West Division rival Edmonton Rush in a home matinee at Everett’s Comcast Arena. The game gets underway at 2:45 p.m. PT.
Scoring 1 2 3 4 F
Washington 6 4 6 1 17
Colorado 5 3 0 5 13