For 30 minutes, the Vancouver Stealth played an outstanding half, holding the opposition to just four goals and taking a two-goal lead into the locker room.
But a lack of offence caught up with the squad as they dropped a 12-8 decision to the visiting Rochester Knighthawks on Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre.
Both teams now sit at 3-6 in National Lacrosse League action.
The Stealth have dropped six of seven games following a 2-0 start and even more troubling is that they remain winless at home at 0-4 at the LEC.
“Didn’t shoot well, didn’t get to the middle,” said Vancouver coach Jamie Batley, following a lengthy closed-door meeting with his players following the team’s sixth loss in the last seven games.
Batley declined to share what was said in the meeting, which lasted more than 20 minutes.
“We didn’t have energy on offence and (we) shot poorly.”
Vancouver managed just two goals over the final 39:07.
They were missing one of their biggest weapons as Rhys Duch watched the game from the Stealth suite with an undisclosed injury.
“Duchee brings a big element to our offence obviously, an outside shot and lots of energy,” Batley said.
“We didn’t have the energy on offence and shot poorly.”
But the Stealth could not make up for his loss as just Corey Small (four goals, one assist) and James Rahe (two goals, two assists) were able to muster offence from the forward groups.
The other two goals came via the transition game as Justin Salt scored on a pair of first-quarter breakaways and also had an assist.
The rest of Vancouver’s vaunted offence — which entered the contest averaging 12.25 goals per game — was missing.
Leading goal-scorer Logan Schuss was held goalless — and he had just one assist — despite 11 shots on goal.
Garrett Billings drew back into the line-up in Duch’s absence and had just a single assist.
Cory Conway did register a pair of assists while Jordan Durston was held off the scoresheet.
Vancouver led 4-1 after one quarter — and didn’t allow Rochester to register their first shot on goal until the seven-minute mark — and were up 6-4 at the half.
The lead was down to 7-6 after three quarters before Rochester took their first lead at the 7:13 mark.
Rahe tied the score at eight with under three minutes to go, but the Knighthawks’ Brad Gillies would scoop up the ball off the ensuing face-off and score the winner eight seconds later.
Rochester added an insurance goal less than a minute later and then scored twice into the empty net.
This was the third straight home loss in which the Stealth were tied or leading in the fourth quarter, all of which resulted in losses.
“We just let off the gas a little bit and were on our heels,” Salt said.
“We are just letting these games get away at the very end.”
Tye Belanger finished with 37 saves for Vancouver while Matt Vinc stopped 35 of 43 shots. Vince was at his busiest in the second quarter when he stopped 14 of 16 shots. By comparison, he only had to make 13 saves the entire second half.
Things don’t get much easier for Vancouver as they kick off the second half of the NLL season with a visit from the two-time league champion — and West Division leading — Saskatchewan Rush (6-2) on Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre.