Lewis Ratcliff has motivation as Washington Stealth opens lacrosse season
Washington Stealth's Lewis Ratcliff was relegated to the National Lacrosse League's All-Pro second team, and said he's using that slight as fuel for the 2011 season.
Special to The Seattle Times
Washington Stealth @ Colorado Mammoth, 6 p.m.
EVERETT — Lewis Ratcliff will have no shortage of motivation when the Washington Stealth begins defense of its National Lacrosse League champion title with a pair of games this weekend.
Although Ratcliff led the league in goals with 46 and was the Most Valuable Player in the Champion's Cup title game, somehow Ratcliff ended up a second-team All-Pro.
Ratcliff said it's his fourth time being on the second team in his eight-year career, and the 29-year-old forward is determined to earn a first-team honor for the first time this season.
"You never want to worry too much about those kind of things, but it definitely fueled a few of my workouts in the offseason," said Ratcliff, who owns a Crossfit gym in Victoria, B.C., and has two young children with his wife Kim. "I think I deserved it. That, and trying to earn a spot to play for Team Canada at the World Indoor Lacrosse Tournament (May 21-28 in Prague), definitely has me fired up."
The Stealth opens defense of its title with a game in Denver against the Colorado Mammoth on Saturday and then plays the Calgary Roughnecks at Comcast Arena in Everett at 5 p.m. Sunday.
Ratcliff, who scored five goals when the Stealth came from behind to beat the Toronto Rock 15-11 to win the title in the team's first season in Everett, thinks a second title might be even sweeter.
"I think we're at the point now where everyone expects to win every game," said the 6-foot-1 Ratcliff. "We also know that this season is a new battle and there are a lot of great teams in the league."
Stealth coach Chris Hall, who has coached NLL championship teams in both Everett and Calgary, thinks the Stealth enters the season a stronger team than last season, thanks mainly to some key additions on defense.
"On paper, we've improved," Hall said. "We thought we were a little weak on the left-hand side on defense. When we looked at the options. The premier guy we wanted was Jeff Moleski. We were fortunate to get him."
Moleski comes to the Stealth from Calgary, where he played for six seasons. He cost the Stealth a first-round pick in the 2011 entry draft. Another key addition could be defender Chris McElroy, who made the team as a free agent after recovering from injuries suffered while playing in Edmonton.
Last season the Stealth led the NLL with 211 goals and has 20 players on the 23-man roster from last year's team. Paul Rabil, who fired in the game-winner eight seconds into sudden-death overtime of a win over Edmonton in the semifinals, signed a three-year contract in the offseason.
Rabil is considered by many to be the best lacrosse player in the world. After helping the Stealth to the NLL title, Rabil won a gold medal and MVP honors playing for the U.S. team at the 2010 World Lacrosse Championships.
The Stealth also returns Rhys Duch, another second team All-Pro, who had three goals and eight assists in the title game, and Jeff Zywicki, who had 30 goals in the regular season.
"We have a lot of weapons and I think the question we're asking ourselves is: 'Just how good can we be?' " Hall said. "Last year we proved we could win it. The true test of greatness is winning it again. There's good and there's great. We want to be remembered as a great team."
Single-game tickets cost between $13 and $42 and are available on the team's website at http://www.stealthlax.com/
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.