By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
It certainly wasn’t going to be easy to go into Denver and beat the National Lacrosse League’s best team. But after Saturday night, the Stealth will probably look back thinking that they let an opportunity slip away.
Washington fell to 2-7 on the season with Saturday night’s 13-11 loss to the Colorado Mammoth. The Mammoth improved to 8-1 and with a win on Sunday at Comcast Arena, they would clinch the league’s first playoff spot of the season.
The bright spot for the Stealth was their production on the power-play, taking advantage of five of six opportunities, but Washington failed to get any rhythm going when both teams were at full strength. The Stealth gave up seven goals in the first period, but held Colorado to just six the rest of the way. However, Washington could only muster four goals itself in the second half and came up empty handed.
After taking advantage of a 5-on-3 power-play in the first quarter to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3, Washington gave up four unanswered goals and trailed 7-5 going into the second period. The Stealth played from behind for nearly the remainder of the game, closing the gap to one goal several times, but never able to tie or take the lead.
That was until the final minutes when Mike Grimes scored in transition to give tie the score at 11. But Colorado had too much in those final two minutes scoring twice and taking the victory.
“Our last two minutes of execution just wasn’t there,” Stealth head coach Chris Hall said.
For the Stealth, it was yet another disappointing loss in a string of disappointing losses this season. Washington seemed to have the tools to beat Colorado as the Stealth got Rhys Duch back from injury, but the offense is still yet to find the rhythm of season’s past.
That said, the Stealth still have a great chance of coming home and earning a split with the Mammoth on Sunday. Washington showed some signs of improvement on Saturday and they will certainly be fired up to finally get a win at Comcast Arena. It’s hard to have patience with such a poor record, but if you look past all the L’s in the loss column this team is starting to turn some things around. If their five-on-five offense can start to click than the Stealth should be able to squeak into the playoffs.
But if the Stealth are going to make any noise when they get there, they are going to have to start turning the moral victories into actual victories.
Here are the game awards:
Player of the game: Adam Jones, Colorado, The Mammoth were missing John Grant Jr., but Jones didn’t seem to mind. The rookie scored three goals and dished four assists to lead the way for the NLL’s top team.
Stealth Player of the game: Lewis Ratcliff, It certainly was a welcome sign to see Ratcliff get some things going offensively. His shot looked better than it had all season and he scored four goals and had two assists to lead the way for the Stealth offense. Dean Hill also chipped in two goals and two assists for the Stealth’s right-side. However, Washington got just two goals from the left-side and they definitely need more production than that.
Stealth Unsung Hero of the game: Kevin Croswell, After seeing Croswell in the first period, it didn’t even seem likely that he would finish the game. But after giving up six goals in the first stanza, he settled down and only gave up five the rest of the way. HIs goalkeeping kept the Stealth in the game.