Knighthawks Edge Stealth to Claim Champions Cup

"For Rhys to be able to play in this game was a monumental effort," said Hall who was unsure that the NLL regular-season goals champion and First Team All-Pro would be available after a deep Charlie Horse to his left quad in Washington's West Division win over Calgary last Saturday left him with less than 10 percent flexation in his leg early in the week.

Following a Cody Jamieson goal at the eight-minute-mark to put the Knighthawks up by one, the Stealth's Athan Iannucci again knotted the game at 2-2 before Dan Dawson ignited a three-goal run that put Rochester in the driver's seat with a 5-2 lead going into the second quarter.

"We started letting guys over the top," Hall said. "(Jamieson) got over the top a couple times on us in the first half and that's just a no-no for us," he said. "We made the adjustments and shut it down in the second half but we should have known a little better."

Jamieson would go on to score two of the next three to give the Knighthawks their largest lead of the night at 7-3 with 10:21 to go in the half before Washington made its presence known just a minute later.

Scoring his first of two on the night, Tyler Garrison ignited a four-goal Stealth run with a shot past Vinc that would eventually force the third tie of the night, this time 7-7 with 5:44 to go in the half on Cliff Smith's second. It was the second multi-goal game of Garrison's career.

But Rochester again came fighting back with three of its own on goals by Vitarelli, Johnny Powless and Craig Point to close-out the half with a 10-7 advantage.

"Three goals behind. We've made some great comebacks this year but our luck just ran out," said Stealth goaltender Tyler Richards who faced 49 Rochester shots 31 in the first half. "We got away from what we are successful at, which is our defense."

In the third, Washington tightened up on the defensive end blanking Rochester 2-0 on Duch's third of the night at 11:31 and a Brett Bucktooth score at 9:05 to bring it to 10-9. It was Duch's 14th hat trick of the season and third in as many post-season games.

Following a Rochester score by Joe Walters just 2:14 into the fourth, Washington came back to outshoot the Knighthawks 11-8 but managed only a single goal at the 11:41 mark.

Garrison's goal brought the Stealth to within one, close enough where a score could have been a game changer.

"It was frantic," Duch said. "We were putting the ball on the net but when it comes down to crunch time you just do whatever you can to try and score a goal."

In the end, the goal never came, with Vinc coming up with one big save after another.

"It was the tale of two great goaltenders," Hall said, whose squad finished the year at 11-8. "Two great defenses and two great lacrosse teams, and in the end we had our chances to tie and get ahead and we didn't."

Brett Bucktooth led the Stealth with one goal and four assists for five points, while Duch had three goals and an assist.

For the Knighthawks, which finished the regular season 8-8 before getting hot in the playoffs, Jamieson netted three goals and two assists for five points, while Dan Dawson also had five points with a goal and four assists.

"In any sport the only team that can say their season was a success is the team that wins the championship," said Duch. "But I don't think our season should be considered a failure. A lot of positives came out of this year. To rebound (from a 4-12 season in 2012) and do what we did is pretty remarkable," he said. "It's very rare to see a team come from last place and then the next year lose the championship game by one."

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2013-05-12



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