The Swarm knew what they had to do to beat the defending champion Washington Stealth, they just didn’t do it. NLL scoring champion Ryan Benesch was held without a goal, All-Star goaltender Nick Patterson gave up 14, and the Swarm were held to just two goals in the second half, none in the fourth quarter.
Coach Mike Lines, obviously disappointed, said he didn’t feel the Stealth did all that much to shut down Benesch or the Swarm as a whole. “We shot 2 for 30 in the second half. We didn’t shoot the ball like we did in the first half.” He added, “What did we have, 49 shots? Thirty of them were in Richards’ chest.”
Asked what he felt the team needed to do to improve in the off season, Lines said “A lot of little things. Consistency has been our problem for three years now.”
Lines refused to blame Patterson, saying “It wasn’t one of his greatest games, but the game’s not his fault by any stretch.” Patterson faced 52 shots on the night, and did seem to be fighting the ball a little, but the Swarm defense just could not lock it down and bail him out when needed.
Swarm captain Ryan Cousins said the game was “100% pure disappointment,” and that the mood in the Swarm locker room was “not very good.”
Cousins said the Stealth focused in on Benesch, saying “especially when a defense is trying to capitalize on a guy, trying to shut him down, and they did. It’s unfortunate for Benesch and our team.”
On Patterson’s performance, Cousins also shifted the blame back to the team, saying that he felt Patterson gave up a couple “gimme goals” at the end, and that “in this league, you should still be able to win with 11 or 12 goals against.”
No matter how you break it down, the Swarm offense disappeared after the first quarter. The Stealth held the top scorer in the regular season to just three assists and no goals whatsoever.
Before the game, Washington Coach Chris Hall said that it would come down to “which teams stars made a name for themselves in the playoffs.” With Benesch being shut down, and Callum Crawford adding just two goals and an assist, the Stealth stars showed they had what it takes.
Meanwhile, Rhys Duch had seven points (3G, 4A), Lewis Ratliff added six points (3G, 3A), and goaltender Tyler Richards stopped forty shots, and won the goaltending battle. The Stealth’s big names made their names.
Still, the Swarm accomplished a big goal. They wanted to bring home a playoff game to their fans, and they did that. It would be difficult to knock the effort put forth this season, or in this game. Sometimes, you draw the hot team in the playoffs.
The Swarm ran into the defending champs, and the Stealth proved to be the better team tonight. Nothing to be ashamed of, even if that is tough to swallow tonight.