Rock gets a win

RYAN WOLSTAT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 3:13 PM ET

Better late than never.

The Rock played one of its most complete lacrosse games of the season last night at the Air Canada Centre, defeating the San Jose Stealth 15-11 to conclude a disappointing NLL campaign at 6-10.

A lineup dotted with more youth -- several youngsters replaced veterans -- showed some hope for the future.

After a slow start -- the Rock fell behind 4-1 and later 6-3 -- Toronto heated up, reeling off seven goals in a row to take control against a normally potent San Jose squad. Jittery early, the Rock rallied to take control of all facets of the game.

Rock coach Jamie Batley, who replaced Glenn Clark earlier in the year, felt the team finally played up to its capabilities and said he hoped to return next season with more time to implement his style.

Luke Wiles and Blaine Manning led the Rock with six points. Lewis Ratcliff and Jason Clark added five.

Colin Doyle, who finished with five points -- five short of setting a new single-season NLL scoring mark -- was treated warmly by the 15,253 on hand in his return to the ACC for the first time since being traded to San Jose on the eve of the 2007 season.

It was fitting that Doyle was in town for the end of another dismal Rock season. After all, his ticket out of town marked a turning point for both franchises.

The Stealth, 20-28 in franchise history prior to Doyle's arrival, has made the playoffs three years in a row since the trade.

Meanwhile, the once-proud Rock, winners of five championships with Doyle leading the way, has gone increasingly downhill, missing the playoffs the past two seasons.

The road back to the post-season won't be easy. Though the 2009 draft is regarded as one of the best in years, the Rock surrendered its eventual top-four pick in 2005.

The Rock's offence is extremely talented on paper, but the players were unable to mesh properly and find top form often enough this year.

The defence and goaltending was worse.

A season after being named goaltender of the year, Bob Watson was inconsistent.

Watson said non-lacrosse issues had a lot to do with his season.

"Mentally I just have to decide if I want to do this grind again," he said.

The Rock's defence was poor most of the season, leaving him out in the cold far too often.

Manning said the whole team needs to improve.

"When you don't make the playoffs it's not just one thing that's wrong," he said.

"We have to tighten up and be better in all aspects."

RYAN.WOLSTAT@SUNMEDIA.CA


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