The Washington Stealth (1-2) suffered their second straight loss of the young 2011 season tonight. A six-goal first half deficit was too much to overcome as the Minnesota Swarm (1-1) left the Comcast Arena with a 16-8 win over the defending National lacrosse League Champions.
The Stealth got off to a good start, with Rhys Duch scoring the game’s first goal two minutes into the contest. But from there, the Swarm dominated the first half, due in large part to the play of forward Ryan Benesch and goaltender Nick Patterson.
After Duch’s goal opened the scoring, the Swarm rattled off four straight goals, including back-to-back power play goals from Benesch and Aaron Wilson. Lewis Ratcliff got the Stealth back into the game with a pair of goals to close out the first, bringing the the score to 4-3 after the first stanza.
The second quarter belonged to the Swarm, as they outscored the Stealth 6-1, including three more from Benesch. Patterson stymied the Stealth offense with 24 first half saves. Stealth transition player Paul Rabil, who grabbed a career-high 19 loose balls in the contest, scored the lone Washington goal in the second quarter. The Swarm led 10-4 at the halftime break.
With Jeff Zywicki, one of the league’s top goal scorers sidelined with an injury, the Stealth offense continued its struggles in the second half. Rabil tallied his second of the game with the Stealth shorthanded early in the third quarter, but the Swarm answered with three straight, including a penalty shot goal by Benesch after the Stealth were whistled for four consecutive penalties, to extend their lead to 13-5 after three quarters of play.
With the game all but over in the fourth quarter, each team tallied three goals, with the Stealth failing to cut the deficit to less than eight goals. The Swarm cruised through the fourth and took the 16-8 victory at the final whistle.
Ratcliff led the Stealth with three goals and an assist, while Duch added two goals and two assists. Rabil scored a pair to go along with his game-high 19 loose balls.
Jamison Koesterer was strong in the face-off circle, winning 20 of the 28 draws he took. Goaltender Matt Roik made 37 saves in the loss.
The Swarm got an outstanding night from Benesch, who finished with six goals and three assists. Callum Crawford added two goals and a game-high five assists. Mat Giles scored two goals and added three assists and Aaron Wilson finished with two and two. Patterson recorded 50 saves to earn his first win of the season.
The Stealth are on the road for its next four games, the first of which takes place in Calgary on January 22. Calgary handed the Stealth its first loss of the season last weekend, a 13-11 result on January 9 at the Comcast Arena. All games can be seen live on the NLL Network at NLL.com.