By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
Throwing the 16-5 loss to Edmonton out the window, it seems the Washington Stealth have been right in every game they have played this season. Unfortunately for the Stealth and their fans, of those five games, Washington only has one win.
They suffered their fifth loss on Saturday night, a 15-12 decision at the hands of the Rochester Knighthawks. The Stealth led or were tied for 57 minutes of the contest, but the Knighthawks scored three goals in the final two minutes and 26 seconds of regulation to steal the win. The Stealth also held a 12-10 lead with 6:30 play, only to see the Knighthawks score the final five goals of the game.
The good news is that just like almost all the other games the Stealth had a chance and assistant coach Art Webster, who is filling in for Chris Hall while he recovers from throat cancer treatment could pinpoint one thing that led to the defeat. Webster said the Stealth gave up too many goals in transition. The good news, however, is becoming the bad news.
It is a good thing to be able to say, “if we fix this we will be fine.” It’s a bad thing to not be able to fix it. That is starting to look like the situation for the Stealth. Falling to 1-5 on the season and having the worst record in the National Lacrosse League is not exactly what the two-time defending West Division champions had in mind.
It is true that the Stealth still have time to turn it around and only one team in the nine-team league doesn’t make the playoffs so it is hard to imagine a point any time soon where the Stealth will be completely out of the playoff picture.
But even if they were to make the playoffs, what would it matter the way they are playing right now?
The Stealth have shown a commitment to trying to get better. They traded away one of their most popular players Paul Rabil for a proven goal-scorer in Athan Iannucci to try to ignite a struggling offense. They signed former all-star Brett Bucktooth in an effort to do the same thing. The Stealth aren’t packing it in and that is not in general manager Doug Locker or head coach Chris Hall’s character to do so. But sooner than later, the Stealth need to start seeing results on the lacrosse floor.
Hall is scheduled to return to the sidelines next weekend when the Stealth host MInnesota. Maybe Hall’s return can be the catalyst for change.
Here are my weekly game awards for Saturday’s game:
Player of the game: Matt Vinc (goalkeeper) Rochester, Vinc saved 50 shots to help lead the Knighthawks to their third win of the season.
Stealth player of the game: Lewis Ratcliff (forward), Ratcliff scored four goals and dished three assists in the loss. After a slow start to the season, Ratcliff has come alive and if the Stealth hope to turn it around, that is a great sign.
Stealth unsung hero of the game: Athan Iannucci (forward), The Stealth acquire Iannucci on Monday and he hadn’t even had a chance to practice with the team, yet he still managed a goal and two assists. When Iannucci gets used to the offense, he should be quite the asset.