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Matthews scores six goals as Rush beats Stealth

Associated Press

2/15/2013 11:41:55 PM

EDMONTON -- It was the first time in a long while that home field actually was an advantage for the Edmonton Rush.

Mark Matthews had six goals and added an assist as the Rush snapped a three-game losing skid with a 15-10 victory over the Washington Stealth in National Lacrosse League play Friday.

Ryan Ward and Zack Greer each had a pair and Cory Conway, Chris Corbeil, Jarrett Davis, Jeff Cornwall and Corey Small had the other goals for the Rush (2-4), who won for the first time this season in four games at home and in their last six games in Edmonton dating back to last season.

"We earned it, we really did," said Rush head coach Derek Keenan. "Now we've got a good opportunity again with a bit of momentum behind us. I really thought, besides a couple lapses, it was a pretty complete effort."

Matthews, the first-overall pick in last year's NLL entry draft, was pleased with the offensive outburst his team displayed on the night.

"We just go hard and when guys are going hard we're getting good looks," he said. "Sometimes it's me going through the middle, like a couple goals I got on transition there. You just go hard and stuff happens."

Rhys Duch had four goals and four assists for the Stealth (4-4), who have lost three of their last four. Athan Iannucci had two goals and Bret Bucktooth, Kyle Buchanan, Lewis Ratcliff and Dean Hill also scored for Washington.

"It was just a matter of execution," Duch said of the loss. "Something about this Edmonton team gets in our heads a little bit. We had a game plan coming in and if we had executed it I think we would have had a chance to win it. But they get in our heads and we fall back in our comfort zones."

Stealth head coach Chris Hall wasn't pleased with the performance but is much happier with his team overall at the halfway point, a marked improvement over a 2-6 start last season.

"We put ourselves in a deep, deep hole last year," he said. "Is 4-4 where you want to be? Not particularly. We want to be 8-0, but nobody is going to do that in this league. But if we compare it to the point we were at last year, we can see where we have progressed. Now we just have to be more consistent."

It took almost six minutes for the first goal before the Rush finally broke the deadlock on a power-play goal from Ward.

Edmonton made it 2-0 a minute later as Matthews rocketed a shot past Stealth goalie Tyler Richards.

Washington got on the board 10 minutes into the first quarter as Bucktooth snuck a sharp-angled shot past Rush goalie Aaron Bold and then tied it up a minute later on a goal by Duch.

The Rush responded with two more goals, including Ward's second of the game, to lead 4-2 after the first quarter.

Matthews got his second of the night to give the Rush a three-goal advantage early in the second as he picked up a loose ball lying just outside the crease and deposited it into a wide-open net.

The teams traded goals before Matthews was able to make it 7-3 with his third goal at the midmark of the second.

Edmonton out-shot Washington 32-15 in the first half.

The Stealth came storming back to start the third quarter with a pair of goals in the first two minutes, including the second of the contest from Duch, before the Rush restored their four-goal lead on two quick goals.

The two squads traded goals twice before Small snuck one through Richards' legs to put Edmonton up 12-7 heading into the fourth quarter.

Matthews scored his fifth goal of the contest one minute into the final quarter to give Edmonton a six-goal edge.

Midway though the fourth Matthews scored his sixth goal, tying a team record for the most goals in a game with Chris Gill.

"He had a little bit of fire in his belly, a little hunger," Keenan said about Matthews scoring the sock trick -- a term unique to lacrosse. "We're trying to build a winning culture around here and I think he's a winner.

"We don't want him to try and take it upon himself to win games for us because I think we've got a good group of guys and we want to share the offence, but he's a big-game player."

Washington scored three goals in the final five minutes with the game already out of reach.

The Rush are right back at it Saturday as they are in Colorado to face the Mammoth. The Stealth don't play again until Feb. 23 when they play host to Calgary.

NOTES - It was the third and final meeting of the season between the two teams, who split the first two matches. ... The Stealth came into the game with a 12-8 edge in the all-time series between the two clubs. The Stealth also own the lone playoff victory in the teams' histories -- an overtime thriller that sent Washington to the 2010 Champion's Cup final... Duch scored his fifth hat trick of the season against the Mammoth to regain the NLL scoring lead and enter the match with Edmonton with 18 goals on the year. ... In the initial meeting between the two teams this season, Matthews tied a franchise record with nine points. ... Despite their record, the Rush have been a relatively strong defensive team, limiting opponents to 10 or fewer goals in their four of their six games.