The hardest part for Athan Ianucci was the waiting. Ianucci knifed through two defenders, jumped in the air and took a low shot that somehow...
EVERETT — The hardest part for Athan Ianucci was the waiting.
Ianucci knifed through two defenders, jumped in the air and took a low shot that somehow found the net with 1:23 left to give the Washington Stealth a 13-12 victory Saturday night over the Rochester Knighthawks in the National Lacrosse League opener for both teams.
After scoring the goal in front of announced crowd of 7,023, Ianucci had to wait through a review to make sure he wasn’t in the crease before he let his game-winning shot go.
“It’s always a little nerve-wracking when you are sitting there watching because you don’t know about the camera angle or how the ref is going to see it,” Ianucci said. “I guess it has to be decisive to overturn it, but I’ll probably go watch it again when I get home.”
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Ianucci’s goal capped the Stealth’s comeback from a 10-8 deficit entering the final period.
Two goals by Rhys Duch and one by Lewis Ratcliff got the Stealth into an 11-11 tie. Mitch McMichael then scored the first NLL goal of his career on a rebound to give the Stealth the lead.
Rochester’s John Powless then scored a backhanded, power-play goal with less than two minutes left to tie the score at 12.
That set up Ianucci’s game-winner, showing the Stealth is back after missing the playoffs with a 4-12 record last season.
“This is great after last season,” Ianucci said. “Obviously it was a bad end to last season, but the thing is we had lots of injuries, guys coming in halfway through the year, so we’re just happy that we’re all here and we’re all healthy.”
Rochester, the defending NLL champions, had three goals by Cory Vitarelli and two by Powless and Joe Walters.
The Stealth got three goals and five assists from Cliff Smith and three goals and three assists from Rhys Duch.