By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Washington Stealth ended its National Lacrosse League season on a sour note Saturday, losing 17-16 in overtime to the Buffalo Bandits after beginning the night with a rousing send-off for retiring forward Cam Sedgwick.
The Comcast Arena crowd of 3,770 honored Sedgwick before the game at the faceoff circle for his 10 years as a member of the Stealth.
“It’s great,” Sedgwick said. “It’s nice to be recognized like that. I love this organization and I love the guys and it’s special for sure.”
Sedgwick retires from the Stealth third on the franchise’s all-time games played list (119), seventh in goals scored (122), third in assists (236) and fourth in points (354).
General manager Doug Locker and Stealth head coach Chris Hall both said that Sedgwick had an outstanding career with the team and meant a great deal to the organization.
“It’s a difficult day. It’s kind of bittersweet.” Locker said of losing Sedwick to retirement.
“I think for any great player who is passionate about the game and passionate about his own performance, it is a difficult time for them,” Hall said.
It proved to be just as difficult a time for the Stealth following Sedgwick’s recognition before the game.
After trailing the Bandits by five goals late in the fourth quarter, the Stealth made a furious rally to send the game to overtime. But 43-year-old John Tavares sent the Stealth and Sedgwick home with a 17-16 loss after beating Kevin Croswell for the game-winner with five minutes and five seconds to play in the extra session.
“That was a long deep hole to come back from and to come all the way back from that was a pretty spectacular effort,” Hall said.
With the loss, the Stealth finish the season at 4-12 and are the only NLL team to fail to make the postseason. The Stealth had been in the championship game the previous two seasons.
The Stealth’s comeback was aided by the Stealth’s big three — Rhys Duch, Athan Iannucci and Lewis Ratcliff. Duch and Iannucci each scored a goal and Ratcliff added one to turn a 16-11 deficit into a tie in the final 8:36 of the game.
“Where has all that stuff been?” Hall asked with a smile after the game.
The night belonged to Ratcliff, who recorded the Stealth’s first sock trick of the season en route to scoring seven goals and dishing four assists.
“Not often do you get seven in one game,” Ratcliff said. “So it was feeling pretty good. But it was kind of streaky for me. I was feeling it in the beginning of the half and then at the beginning of the second and then I kind of went cold for a little bit. But Duchee stepped up and played awesome like he does every game, so you know, we take turns.”
The Stealth were also aided by the play of backup goalkeeper Kevin Croswell, who Hall went to in relief of Tyler Richards for a spark in the second half. Croswell was responsible a crucial save with 30 seconds left in regulation and several other key saves in the overtime session.
“He was spectacular,” Hall said. “He played great for us and allowed us to get back in.”
Bandits 17, Stealth 16 (OT)
1st Quarter: BUF — Thorimbert 1:06. BUF — Vyse (Steenhuis) 2:58. BUF — Giles (PP) (Tavares) 8:29. BUF — Buchanan (Self, Steenhuis) 10:47. WAS — Ratcliff (Duch, Bucktooth) 12:11. WAS — Ratcliff (Hill) 13:08.
2nd Quarter: WAS — Hill (PP) (Bucktooth, Iannucci) 1:51. BUF — Montour 2:07. WAS — Ratcliff (Bucktooth, Iannucci) 2:25. WAS — Ratcliff (Iannucci, Salt) 4:33. WAS — Duch (Bucktooth) 6:54. WAS — Bucktooth (Iannucci, Ratcliff) 12:19. BUF — Steenhuis 12:43. BUF — Wiles (Tavares, Harasym) 13:26. BUF — Steenhuis (Cosmo) 13:50.
3rd Quarter: WAS — Ratcliff (PP) (Bucktooth) 0:33. BUF — Self (Irving) 2:32. WAS — Ratcliff (Iannucci, Duch) 2:55. BUF — Tavares 3:27. BUF — Vyse (Giles, Buchanan) 6:31. BUF — Tavares (Vyse, Steenhuis) 8:51. BUF — Steenhuis 9:33. WAS — Martin 9:56. BUF — Culp (Giles, Irving) 12:29.
4th Quarter: WAS — Duch (PP) (Hill) 0:39. BUF — Vyse (Culp, Wiles) 4:53. BUF — Thompson (McNamara) 5:12. WAS — Duch (PP) (Hill, Ratcliff) 6:24. WAS — Iannucci (PP) (Ratcliff, Duch) 10:17. WAS — Iannucci (PP) (Duch) 10:52. WAS — Duch (Bucktooth, Ratcliff) 11:14. WAS — Ratcliff (Bucktooth, Iannucci) 13:21.
Aaron Lommers covers the Washington Stealth for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.