The Washington Stealth enters the 2012 National Lacrosse League season as the defending two-time Western Division Champion, including the first NLL title in the organization’s history in 2010. Forward Lewis Ratcliff has been major reason for the Stealth’s recent success and today the Stealth has announced the All-Pro forward has signed a two-year contract, pending league approval.
Ratcliff, 30, was acquired by the Stealth prior to the 2010 season, and the sharpshooting lefty has since made his mark on the Stealth franchise. In two seasons in Washington, no player in the NLL has recorded more regular season points than Ratcliff, who has 189 points (87g, 102a) in 32 games. In 2011, he was named second team NLL All-Pro for the fourth time in his nine-year career after finishing second in the NLL with 92 points (41g, 51a). He also finished the season ranked third in the league in goals and fourth in assists. He led the Stealth to its second straight Western Division title with 17 playoff points (8g, 9a) in three postseason games.
“On the floor, Lewis’s accolades speak for themselves,” said Stealth General Manager Doug Locker. “He’s an exceptional scorer for which opposing teams have to adjust their game plan. Off the floor, he’s done a tremendous job representing the Stealth and continuing the growth of lacrosse in the Pacific Northwest.”
Ratcliff has become involved in the Puget Sound region’s lacrosse community since joining the Stealth. He is the Director of the Stealth Lacrosse Academy, which teaches box lacrosse to local youth, middle and high school players, and the Junior Stealth, a group of travel teams comprised of local youth and high school lacrosse players. His involvement in the local lacrosse community has prompted the Victoria, British Columbia native to move his family to Washington, and has him excited for the upcoming Stealth season.
“I’m incredibly anxious to get the season started,” said Ratcliff, who will join his teammates for the start of training camp next week in Langley. “Coming to the Stealth organization has really rejuvenated me. Now I am much more involved with the community and surrounded by people I know. It’s more fun to be playing close to my family and having the support of a community when I’m playing. The move to the Stealth has been the best thing for my career.”
Entering his tenth NLL season in 2012, Ratcliff has been consistently one of the most dangerous forwards in the league. Seven times he has eclipsed the 70-point mark in a single regular season, amassing 746 career points (344g, 402a) in 143 regular season games. He’s also added to his legacy as a big game performer, winning Championship Game MVP honors in the 2010 NLL Championship Game following a five-goal, six-point outing in the Stealth’s victory over the Toronto Rock. The 2010 title was the second of Ratcliff’s career, as he hoisted the Champion’s Cup in 2004 as a member of the Calgary Roughnecks.
Despite his previous success, Ratcliff is hungry for more and feels the Stealth has a chance to continue its latest run among the elite teams in the NLL.
“With the expectations and team that we have in Washington, if we don’t win it all the season won’t be a success,” he said. “We were one goal away from winning back-to-back championships last season. We’ve got the bulls-eye on our backs and everyone wants to beat us, so it’s just a matter of being prepared and working harder than everyone else.”
The Stealth opens the 2012 season on January 14, when the team plays host to the Calgary Roughnecks at the Comcast Arena at Everett. Season tickets for the 2012 Washington Stealth season start at less than $100 and are on sale now. For more information, call 877-MY-75-TIX or visit www.stealthlax.com.