ILIndoor Top 40: Lewis Ratcliff #12

Lewis Ratcliff is about as lethal as it gets when comes to offensive threats in Washington. (Photo: Dan Brodie)
Lewis Ratcliff is about as lethal as it gets when comes to offensive threats in Washington. (Photo: Dan Brodie)

Inside and outside, Lewis Ratcliff gets it done. He’ll crash the crease and get his hands dirty for the goals for which defenders charge a heavy and sometimes painful toll. But if the lane’s not there, and the defender’s giving him a little space on the perimeter, he’ll drop the stick, crank the torque for all it’s worth and next thing you know, the goalie’s digging the ball out of the net behind him. Lewis Ratcliff is an offensive force of many dimensions and even though his National Lacrosse League numbers dipped a bit last season — a clear reflection of the nosedive the Stealth took as a team — there is no reason to start thinking that Ratcliff isn’t one of the most dangerous scoring threats in the game today.

For the first time in 3 NLL seasons, Ratcliff’s final points total in the regular season was below 90 points. His 76 points (36 goals, 40 assists) were his lowest since joining the Stealth, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort. His 245 shots were a team-high and the most he’s ever taken in a season, and that’s more a reflection on the team’s fall in production.

The Stealth scored just 179 goals, second-worst in the league and the first time they’ve scored less than 200 in a season since moving to Washington. And the reasons for that are various, not the least of which were injuries to up and down the floor. To wit, Ratcliff was the only forward to play all 16 games in 2012.

Still, the left-hander out of Victoria, B.C., cranked away and did his best to shoulder the offensive load, even leading the team in power play goals with 13. No one else scored more than 9. The offense did manage to pick u p the pace in the second half, averaging 12.5 goals over the last 8 games compared to 9.86 in the first 8. And Ratcliff was a big contributor to that, scoring 31 points (12-19) in the Stealth’s final 5 games, including an 11-point effort against Buffalo in the season finale.

The Stealth were still in the running for a playoff spot in that stretch but failed to qualify, a tough blow for a team that had played in the previous 2 Champion’s Cup games.

Ratcliff maintained his hot hand in the summer, his 57 points tying for the team lead in scoring with the WLA’s Langley Thunder. But as is usually the case with Ratcliff, he found another gear in the playoffs, dropping a team-leading 49 points (23-26) in the WLA playoffs to be named winner of the Bill Ellison Trophy as MVP of the WLA playoffs. He then scored 22 points (7-15) in 6 Mann Cup games for the Thunder in their loss to Peterborough.

Simply put, Ratcliff has long been and continues to be one of those blessed with the ability to score goals and put up points. But what coaches love about Ratcliff’s game is that he’s not a one-dimensional threat. He’ll crash the crease and grind elbows with authority one shift, then pull back and score the artistic goal with footwork and stick work from outside. He keeps defenders honest and while he may not get the praise and adoration that other scorers in the game get because of their flash and dash, Ratcliff gets plenty of respect for his game and as for athletes, that’s about the best compliment you can get.

Fact: In 10 NLL seasons, Ratcliff has had Chris Hall as a head coach for 8. From 2003 to 2007, Hall and Ratcliff were together in Calgary and from 2010 through today, they’ve been together in Washington.

Twitter handle: twitter.com/lrat42

Top 40 (last year’s rank in parenthesis)

No. 40: Jeff Gilbert (not ranked)
No. 39: Kevin Crowley (nr)
No. 38: Kevin Ross (nr)
No. 37: Adam Jones (nr)
No. 36: Jordan MacIntosh (nr)
No. 35: Paul Rabil (30)
No. 34: Tyler Richards (17)
No. 33: Scott Ranger (nr)
No. 32: Chris White (20)
No. 31: Sandy Chapman (15)
No. 30: Aaron Bold (nr)
No. 29: Jeff Moleski (10)
No. 28: Andrew Suitor
No. 27: Ryan Ward (nr)
No. 26: Dane Dobbie (25)
No. 25: Mike Carnegie (31)
No. 24: Stephan Leblanc (26)
No. 23: Josh Sanderson (7)
No. 22: Athan Iannucci (16)
No. 21: Mike Poulin (nr)
No. 20: Gavin Prout (22)
No. 19: Colin Doyle (5)
No. 18: Shawn Evans (33)
No. 17: Geoff Snider (18)
No. 16: Ryan Benesch (13)
No. 15: Brodie Merrill (8)
No. 14: Jeff Shattler (14)
No. 13: Shawn Williams (12)

Chavez is an avid lacrosse player in Rochester and a journalist for the Democrat and Chronicle as well as a longtime Inside Lacrosse contributor. Email him at bob.chavez@nllinsider.com or go to RochesterSports.com.

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