Kiel Matisz showing some skills. - Angela Taylor - ACT1 Photography
The Minnesota Swarm held off the Washington Stealth to secure their first win of the NLL season.
Minnesota Swarm 15 - 14 Washington Stealth
Coming into tonight, the Minnesota Swarm had lost two heart breaking games, both by a goal, both after leading going into the fourth quarter. After a 5-0 run in the first half, Swarm fans at The Hive were feeling good, and the team on the field looked to be cruising to victory. The Stealth would pull within one, but no closer, as the Swarm finally found a way to finish out a game and secure the win.
The first quarter saw the home team down by one, but things were looking up. Goals from Andrew Watt, Andrew Suitor, and rookie Kiel Matisz had the Swarm in the game, and goaltender Evan Kirk was solid in net. In the NLL, one goal is a heart beat away, and the game was just getting started.
In the second, the Swarm put on a show. Matisz, who had two other goals called back, would add two more goals to finish off the third Swarm rookie hat trick in three games. After the game he said the goals being called back weren't a big deal because he "knew they weren't going to be goals." He added, "on the first one, I just celebrated and hoped the refs would go with it." Ryan Benesch added his own hat trick in that quarter alone, and rookie Shayne Jackson would score his first of three on the night. By the time the half time game featuring shirtless players playing the original lacrosse game, the Swarm were up 10-6, and on a roll.
The second half was, once again, not kind to the Swarm. Things looked really good for the Swarm when Jordan MacIntosh scored just seven seconds into the half, but it was all an illusion. The Stealth stayed close, as both sides scored four goal a piece. Jackson would finish off the third of three Swarm hat tricks on the night, but could not find a way to pull out to a bigger lead. Callum Crawford, who quietly had six assist on the night, also potted his only goal of the game in the third.
The fourth quarter was all Stealth. They would tack on three goals from Cliff Smith, Lewis Ratcliff, and Tyler Garrison, and suddenly the game had a whole new feel to it. Captain Andrew Suitor was carried off the field after falling down and clutching his knee, only to return minutes later and score what would be the game winning goal.
Matisz said that the mood on the bench was different tonight as the lead was cut to one. He gave credit to being at home, and the crowd backing them up, but also made a point to note that having Suitor back was a key to the win, saying that Suitor was "always positive, and that gave us energy."
The Swarm will take a win any way they can get it, and certainly did not want to fall to 0-3 on the season. Finding their legs in the second half is going to have to be a focus for the rest of the season. The foot on the throat, killer instinct has to be found, or one goal losses are going to erode that confidence quickly.
They'll have a week on the road to find it, as they head next to Denver on Saturday to face the Colorado Mammoth in always rocking Pepsi Center.
Three Stars of the Game
1. Ryan Benesch (3G, 4A)
2. Shayne Jackson (3G, 3A)
3. Kiel Matsz (3G, 2A)
1. Will the return of Suitor fire this team up? Absolutely. It is evident that he is the heart and soul of this team.
2. Is The Hive enough to get a win? It is, and credited as much by the team.
3. Do the rookies continue to shine? Let's see, two hat tricks from rookies tonight. That'll do just fine.
4. Who is the hero tonight? Andrew Suitor. The coming back from an injury to score the winning goal? Pretty cool stuff.
5. Will my kids behave themselves in the crowd? They were fantastic, and only spent $40 of my money.