Ratcliffe Explodes for Eight Goals as Wings Overtake Saints
Saturday, March 8, 2003
By David W. Unkle
First place feels good for the Philadelphia Wings (6-5) as they knocked Colorado from the top spot with a 15-14 win over the lowly New York Saints (1-11). As they did last year following a 1-3 start, the Wings continue to claw their way back to contention after this year’s 2-5 start.
Our offense is clicking…we’re getting good shots and good rebounds and that keeps our defense off the floor, said Jeff Ratcliffe after netting eight goals and three assists on the afternoon.
For the second time in three days, the Wings extracted one-goal wins from the Saints with less than surgical precision but it was good enough to vault them to the division lead.
It wasn’t a Rembrandt but it ended with a win.
Frustrating was how Wings Head Coach Adam Mueller summed things up.
The ending certainly did not match the start. With fans still getting settled in their seats, the Saints quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead just 1:15 into the game. Gavin Prout (2G, 3A) and Matt Shearer (6G, 2A) accounted for the early offense as the Wings played loose defensively an had difficulty hitting the open man.
Keith Cromwell’s goal just twenty-five seconds after Shearer seemed to awaken Philadelphia but the Saints marched back with two more goals to take the 4-1 lead.
The Saints are fourth in the National Lacrosse League in shooting percentage and they emphasized that point in the early going, scoring four goals on their first six shots.
As the first quarter came to a close, Ratcliffe brought the Wings to within one with two scores 1:28 apart.
Philadelphia grabbed their first lead of the day on goals by Ratcliffe and Dan Marohl to begin the second quarter.
The lead traded hands before the Wings scored three times within 1:08 to go up 9-7. Andrew Guindon had the breakaway goal after Ratcliffe and Marechek started the surge with goals 36 seconds apart. Philadelphia was prepared to enter the first half intermission with the three goal lead before Chris Panos heartbreaker with one second to go.
The Wings offense, which clicked for eight goals in the second half, was shut down by the Saints defense. A three goal surge by the Saints late in the third quarter knotted the score at 12-12.
Tom Marechek’s third goal of the game with 1:22 left put Philadelphia up 14-13 and the Wings appeared headed to their fourth consecutive win.
Chad Culp and the Saints, seeking just their second victory on the season, had different thoughts.
The Wings, burned by transition goals most of last season, encountered a familiar and un-welcomed nemesis.
Taking the outlet pass from goalkeeper, Gee Nash, Saints attacker Gavin Prout found Culp unmarked in front of the Wings net and the game seemed destined for overtime.
The Wings, with one last burst of offense, quickly moved downfield for the final kill. Ratcliffe took the feed from Mark Frye, playing against his former team for the first time and beat Nash for the game winning goal with thirty-two seconds to go.
Ratcliffe came within two tallies of tying the all-time league record for goals in a game set by Paul Gait and equaled by brother Gary.
I’ve been having a tough season so far so it was nice to get the (eight) goals today and get a win out of it too, said Ratcliffe.
When I gave my jersey away prior to last year’s game against Ottawa I scored eight goals and I did it again today. Maybe I should give my jersey away every game.
Added Mueller, every game he’s getting loose balls and drawing attention which lets the other guys do things on the floor... I’ll take Jeff at eight goals and I’ll take him with one goal because of the things he does for us.
SCORING BY QUARTER:
New York: 4-5-3-2
SHOTS ON GOAL:
New York: 11-13-9-10
New York: 12-17-10-12
New York: 20-15-17-14
30 SECOND VIOLATIONS:
1st Quarter: PHL Traynor (interference) 4:21; PHL Brzeski (cross-checking) 8:24; NY Culp (holding) 10:29; NY Ghedina (holding) 13:44.
2nd Quarter: NY Ghedina (checking from behind) 1:29; NY Shirk (holding) 3:28; PHL Ratcliffe (holding) 10:54; NY Bench Minor (delay of game) 10:54; NY Nash (unsportsmanlike conduct) served by Brothers 13:40.
3rd Quarter: NY Paccione (slashing) 2:38; NY Polanco (hitting from the rear) 3:37; PHL Jacobs (holding) 8:26; NY Shirk (cross-checking) 10:07; PHL Henderson (roughing) 10:07; NY Carlson (roughing) 11:13; PHL Spano (checking from behind) 12:15.
4th Quarter: PHL Spano (holding) 1:48.
STAR OF THE GAME: Jeff Ratcliffe (PHL)
Officials: Mike Ventura; Brian Abbott; Dave Seidman.
1. After a 2-5 start, the Wings won their last four contests while improving their record at home to 4-2.
Photos provided by Pedro Cancel Jr.
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