EVERETT — The last time Lewis Ratcliff scored five goals in Comcast Arena the Washington Stealth lifted the National Lacrosse League Champion’s Cup after defeating the Toronto Rock in front of a sellout crowd.
Sunday night in the Stealth’s home-opening contest against the Calgary Roughn
ecks, Ratcliff again poured in five goals, but the result was much different.
Calgary forward Scott Ranger scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal with 1 minute, 35 seconds remaining in the final quarter as the Roughnecks beat the Stealth 13-11 in front of 5,364 fans at Comcast Arena.
Washington (1-1 overall) had a final chance to tie the score with under 30 seconds left, but miscommunication in the Stealth offense led to forward Rhys Duch running into a double team and losing the ball.
Roughnecks defenseman Mike Carnegie put in the empty-netter for the game’s final goal.
“They just outplayed us today. I think we didn’t come with our ‘A’ game, we just thought we could kind of show up and win,” said Ratcliff, who scored five goals a night after being held without a goal in an 11-10 overtime win over the Colorado Mammoth. “It might turn out to be a good thing that we lose one early and get refocused. You can learn a lot more from losses than you do from a win, especially when you don’t deserve to win.”
A rough start in which Calgary (2-0) jumped out to a 6-2 lead caused the Stealth to play catch up. Washington eventually tied the score at 8-8 by halftime, but fell into another two-goal hole at the start of the second half.
“We were horrible fundamentally in the first half and we dug ourselves a huge hole,” Stealth head coach Chris Hall said. “They were in the same boat we were — they got here late, we had a tough travel day too — no excuses and we came out and played horrible lacrosse fundamentally. We were awful.”
The game’s start time had to be pushed back one hour after the Roughnecks had flight problems leaving Calgary.
“We were sleeping,” Hall continued. “All over the floor we were sleeping. Defensively we were terrible, we were overaggressive, overplaying, not playing with intelligence at all. Technically and fundamentally and emotionally we weren’t there.”
Washington unveiled its 2010 championship banner, but coaches and players didn’t feel the celebration carried over to the team’s play.
“Back-to-back games and we kind of brought two different styles of play,” Duch said. “Tonight, we started playing our game and then we kind of got away from it. It’s a difficult loss, it’s frustrating especially when we had all the tools to win and we just didn’t use them.”
Forward Jeff Shattler had three goals for Calgary and forward Dane Dobbie added three as well, including the game-tying goal past Stealth goaltender Matt Roik with 5:43 to play in the fourth quarter.
“We got off to a good start, but kind of slowed down a little bit,” said Calgary draw-man Geoff Snider, who scored a breakaway goal to start the third quarter. “It’s a credit to the group in there that we never strayed away from the game play and stuck together as a group and found a lucky bounce at the end.”
Duch and forward Luke Wiles scored two goals each for the Stealth, who were without forward Jeff Zywicki and defenseman Eric Martin due to injuries.
Zywicki, who scored three goals in Saturday’s win over Colorado, took a hard knock during that game and was scratched from Sunday’s contest.
“We’re not quite sure what’s happing there yet,” Hall said of Zywicki’s injury. “… He’s so key to our power play at times and our power play was pretty average tonight at best.”
For more on the NLL and the Stealth, follow Mark Nelson’s blog at www.heraldnet.com/stealthblog.