EDMONTON, Alberta — The Washington Stealth offense went missing for most of Friday night, and it cost them a win and a chance to move into first place in the National Lacrosse League’s West division.
Edmonton rookie Mark Matthews scored six goals and the Rush outshot the Stealth 61-34 to win the rubber match of the three-game season series 15-10 at Rexall Place in Edmonton.
The victory was just the second of the season for the Rush, and second against the Stealth.
Washington (4-4) failed to capitalize on an opportunity to move into first place in the West at the season’s midway point. Earlier in the night, the Toronto Rock beat the first-place Calgary Roughnecks 17-12. A win by the Stealth would have moved them past Calgary and into first.
The Rush (2-4) controlled the game from the opening face-off, scoring the game’s first two goals in the first quarter. Washington answered with two goals of its own from Brett Bucktooth and Rhys Duch, but like most of the game, the Rush answered right back with two goals to take an early 4-2 lead.
The Rush defense held the Stealth to just five shots on goal in the first quarter.
“It’s no surprise, we know exactly the kind of defense they play — aggressive, pressing, high tempo,” Stealth head coach Chris Hall said. “We talked about it, we practiced it, but our execution was not good. We let them kind of dictate how that was going to happen.”
The second quarter brought more of the same frustration for the Stealth.
Matthews, the first-overall pick in the 2012 NLL Draft, completed the first-half hat trick with two goals in the period, and Washington failed to capitalize on a power-play opportunity by allowing a shorthanded goal to Edmonton’s Chris Corbeil.
Matthews was a thorn in the side for the Stealth all evening. Hall said the team was prepared for Matthews, but just didn’t execute well.
“We know he’s a marquee player. We had strategies to deal with him but obviously we didn’t recognize him quick enough. We got away defensively from what we’ve been doing.”
The Stealth appeared ready to make run at the start of the third quarter. Back-to-back goals from Duch and Lewis Ratcliff to start the period cut the Rush’s lead to two at 7-5. But again Edmonton answered with three consecutive goals, the last of which came after Washington’s Kyle Sorensen appeared to score on a breakaway, but was called for a crease violation. Within seconds of the penalty and amid some confusion, Edmonton’s Jarrett Davis slipped the ball past Stealth goalkeeper Tyler Richards.
“We had a couple of times where we got within two goals … and it seemed like things were going to turn around a bit. But when we gave (the two-goal swing) away, that was tough,” Hall said.
After Matthews completed the sock trick in the fourth quarter, the Stealth tried to make one final run.
Duch scored two consecutive goals, to give him a season-high four and his sixth hat trick of the season, and then Athan Ianucci put a shot past Rush goalie Aaron Bold to cut the lead to four at 14-10.
But the scoring run was too little, too late for Washington as Edmonton’s Zack Greer answered with the final tally of the game.
Sorensen admits that while the Stealth are not happy with where they are at, they aren’t too disappointed either.
“We are disappointed of the games we lost but at the same time we’re still near the top of the Western division. We’re satisfied but not happy. We’re not hitting the panic button.”
Rush 15, Stealth 10
Washington Stealth 2 1 4 3 — 10
Edmonton Rush 4 3 5 3 — 15
1st Quarter — Scoring: EDM — Ward Goal (PP) (Conway) 5:48; EDM — Matthews Goal (LaFontaine, Toll) 7:02; WAS — Bucktooth Goal (PP) (Duch) 9:54; WAS — Duch Goal (Hill, Garrison) 11:16; EDM — Conway Goal (Quinlan, Matthews) 11:51; EDM — Ward Goal (Conway, Small) 14:51. Goalie Changes: None.
2nd Quarter — Scoring: EDM — Matthews Goal 2:15; EDM — Corbeil Goal (SH) 5:50; WAS — Buchanan Goal (Duch, Beers) 6:42; EDM — Matthews Goal (Ward, Small) 7:24. Goalie Changes: None.
3rd Quarter — Scoring: WAS — Duch Goal (Bucktooth, Beers) 0:40; WAS — Ratcliff Goal (PP) (Duch) 2:07; EDM — Matthews Goal (LaFontaine, Rubisch) 2:54; EDM — Greer Goal (Ward, Knight) 3:24; EDM — Davis Goal 4:46; WAS — Hill Goal (PP) (Iannucci, Ratcliff) 6:26; EDM — Cornwall Goal (Toll) 6:51; WAS — Iannucci Goal (Duch) 10:35; EDM — Small Goal (Greer, Ward) 12:10. Goalie Changes: None.
4th Quarter — Scoring: EDM — Matthews Goal (Conway, Ward) 1:09; EDM — Matthews Goal (Davis, Knight) 7:58; WAS — Duch Goal (Smith, Snider) 8:36; WAS — Duch Goal (Iannucci, Buchanan) 10:07; WAS — Iannucci Goal (Bucktooth, Hill) 10:56; EDM — Greer Goal (Davis, Knight) 12:49. Goalie Changes: None.