By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
EVERETT — Last season, a National Lacrosse League game against the Philadelphia Wings wouldn’t have been all that intimidating. After all, the Wings finished tied with Colorado and Edmonton for the league’s worst record at 5-11.
But this is a new season and the Washington Stealth take on the 2012 version of the Wings at 4 p.m. today at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. After three key offseason additions, this year’s Wings are expected to pose more of a challenge for all comers.
The Wings added all-star forward Dan Dawson via the dispersal draft when Dawson’s former team, the Boston Blazers, suspended operations for the 2012 season; signed all-star transition player Brodie Merrill, who played last season in Edmonton, and selected forward Kevin Crowley with the first overall pick in the 2011 entry draft.
Those three additions should make the Wings a more dynamic offensive unit this season, though they suffered a 22-12 loss to Rochester in their season opener.
Stealth assistant coach Art Webster, who is leading the team while head coach Chris Hall continues his treatments for throat cancer, said his team needs to take away the potent right side of the Wings’ offense and force the left side to make plays.
While he expects a challenge from the Wings, Webster said he’s more concerned with his team’s performance than Philadelphia’s.
“It’s going to be a battle, but I think if we play the game we are capable of playing, we will be fine,” he said.
His team didn’t play that game in its season-opening loss to the Calgary Roughnecks last Saturday, giving up too many goals in transition and having difficulty putting the ball in the net at the offensive end.
“That (transition) is definitely a factor that we need to clean up,” Webster said. “Offensively, I think we need to swing the ball more. We need to shoot the ball better. For us to be successful, we have to get multiple goals out of three or four players.”
The only player to score multiple goals for the Stealth against Calgary was forward Rhys Duch, who finished the game with four.
Webster said turnovers also played a role in Washington’s loss last weekend.
“Our turnovers were costly when possessions are huge,” he said.
Webster emphasized that though his team played poorly against Calgary, he was encouraged by the fact the Stealth were still in the game late. The two teams were tied 10-10 with less than five minutes to go before the Roughnecks scored the final three goals of the contest.
The Stealth had an opportunity to kill a Calgary power-play with the game tied, but a turnover resulted in a Roughnecks goal with just seconds left in the one-man advantage. “It’s little things like that that kill you in a game,” Webster said.
But if the mistakes are going to come, it’s better in Week 1 than late in the season.
Said Webster: “I would rather have those mistakes now than in game 17, the first round of the playoffs.”
Aaron Lommers covers the Washington Stealth for The Herald. Read his live blogs at www.heraldnet.com/blog34, follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.