The Washington Stealth fell just short of its second National Lacrosse League title in four years, losing to the Rochester Knighthawks 11-10 Saturday night.
LANGLEY, B.C. — The Washington Stealth fell just short of its second National Lacrosse League title in four years, losing to the Rochester Knighthawks 11-10 Saturday night.
Rochester never trailed, leading by as many as four goals. Washington outscored the Knighthawks 3-1 in the second half to keep the game close, but couldn’t complete the comeback.
“Standing on the bench (in the final seconds), it felt like destiny was with us,” said Washington goaltender Tyler Richards. “We had a couple opportunities there, but it didn’t fall our way tonight.”
The win gives Rochester back-to-back Champion’s Cups, the first consecutive winner since the Toronto Rock in 2002 and 2003.
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Joe Walters scored the only Rochester goal of the second half — early in the fourth quarter — but it proved to be the winner.
Matt Vinc, who last week was named the NLL goaltender of the year, made 39 saves for the Knighthawks, including clutch stops of Rhys Duch, first with just 14.6 seconds remaining and then another save at the buzzer to seal the Stealth’s fate.
“Vinc was going down on a lot of shots,” Duch said. “I don’t think I made the right shot. I should have gone far side high, to be honest. Then the last one at the end was ‘just put the ball to the net’ and now that I think about it, I should have picked it up and went behind the net. It was frantic.”
Richards stopped 38 shots for the Stealth, which was led offensively by Brett Bucktooth’s five points. Duch, who was nursing a few injuries and almost didn’t play, had three goals and an assist.
The game was played at the Langley Events Centre in British Columbia because Comcast Arena in Everett was booked all weekend.
Cody Jamieson was named most valuable player, scoring three times and adding two assists. Walters and Dan Dawson also had five points each for the Knighthawks.
After the teams traded goals to begin the game, Rochester built a 5-2 lead in the first quarter.
In the second the Stealth fell behind 7-3 but scored four straight to knot it at 7. However, the Knighthawks took a 10-7 lead into halftime.
“We let them get over the top too much and come down the middle for some great shots,” Richards said. “Three goals behind, we’ve had some comebacks this year, but our luck kind of ran out.”
Duch scored the first goal of the second half at 3:29. His shot from the slot beat Vinc’s five hole, giving Duch a hat trick.
Bucktooth made it 10-9 at 4:55 with a shot from the slot after taking a pass from Athan Iannucci.
Rochester didn’t score its first goal of the second half until Walter scored at 2:24 of the fourth quarter. Walters scored while being knocked to the ground, giving the Knighthawks a two-goal cushion.
Tyler Garrison came right back for the Stealth, at 3:19, scoring short side on Vinc to make it 11-10.