The Vancouver Stealth kept things close for three quarters, but ran out of gas in the fourth, dropping a 16-12 decision to the Georgia Swarm.
The Swarm scored five goals in a span of 6:11 in the fourth quarter, seizing control of what had been a one-goal game.
When the final buzzer sounded, it was a 16-12 score in favor of the Georgia visitors in National Lacrosse League action at the Langley Events Centre on Saturday night.
Georgia improved its record to 3-3 while the Stealth fell to 1-6.
“We really pushed the ball in transition and especially late in the third and the fourth, we scored in transition,” said coach Ed Comeau, outside the visitors dressing room. “I think their legs kind of gave out on them in the fourth and we started to run.”
The Swarm had a great start to the game, racing out to a 5-1 lead. The Stealth would cut the deficit to 5-3 by the 15:00 minute mark and the lead was down to 8-7 at the half.
Vancouver’s James Rahe and Joel McCready pulled the home side even at 12:36 of the third quarter, but 24 seconds later, the Swarm’s Lyle Thompson put his team ahead for good.
Georgia led 10-9 after three quarters and never looked back.
Vancouver had played the night before in Denver, falling 14-13 to the Colorado Mammoth in a heart-breaking defeat which saw the home team score the winner in the final minute.
The Swarm players said the coaches warned them about not focusing on the difficult travel schedule their opponents faced over the previous 24 hours. “If you think about that, then you get lackadaisical and think you are going to win,” said Randy Staats, who led Georgia with four goals and one assist. “We just tried to bring it tonight and work our (butts) off and that’s what we were able to do.”
Staats said the team’s transition game was a major factor in the victory, especially in the fourth quarter when they pulled away. “That buries a team. That doesn’t put any pressure on the offence if our tranny is scoring,” he said. “(And) offensively we were spread out and finding the middle, so we were getting good shots in good scoring areas.”
Staat’s downplayed his stat line. “Every game for us there is always somebody different getting four or five goals. That is special to have and not too many teams have that,” he said,
Shayne Jackson (two goals, seven assists), Lyle Thompson (three goals, three assists) and Kiel Matisz (five assists).
Secondary scoring came courtesy of Frank Brown, Johnny Powless and Jesse King — who each had a goal and two assists — while John Ranagan had a pair of goals and Connor Sellars and Jerome Thompson scored once each.
Mike Poulin would finish with 33 saves on 45 shots.
The Stealth were led by three goals apiece from Logan Schuss, Corey Small and Joel McCready. Schuss also had five assists, while the other two set up two goals apiece. Rhys Duch (one goal, four assists) and James Rahe (two goals, one assist) had the rest of the Stealth offence. Tony Malcom had three assists.
Eric Penney took the loss, making 43 saves on 58 shots. Brodie MacDonald allowed one goal and two shots.
Despite two more losses, Stealth captain Matt Beers said the team feels better days are just around the corner. “I think we played with a lot of heart, I think we battled. The first game we truly believed we deserved the win,” he said. “It came down to one or two mental mistakes. The heart is there, we just have to clean it up.”
Head coach Jamie Batley echoed those sentiments. “I thought our guys had a gutsy weekend. We played three pretty good games — I know we came out on the losing end of two of those — but I think we have had three good games after four games we didn’t play great,” he said. “We are not getting wins but our team is playing well.”
Beers also said some of the team’s younger players have been thrust into bigger than expected roles, and are gaining valuable experience, which will only help over the course of the season.
And as for the players getting dejected with the losses piling up, Beers said the only light at the end of the tunnel the team needs is the fact they are only a half-game behind Calgary (1-5) for the third playoff spot in the West Division.