Scott Ratliff: 122 Games of 100%
By Joe Keegan | Jan 13, 2023
Scott Ratliff has announced his retirement from professional lacrosse.
A seven-time All-Star, the second-highest scoring LSM of all-time, 2017 Real Man of the MLL winner, 2018 Dave Huntley Man of the Year Award winner, 2019 Welles Crowther Humanitarian Award winner, and eventual first-ballot Hall of Famer.
His coaches and teammates will miss his passion and leadership the most. That’s what Ratliff brought every game for 122 consecutive games – the longest streak in pro lacrosse history.
Whatever it took to win, Ratliff would do it. Everywhere he went.
When John Tucker took over as head coach of the Boston Cannons in 2013, he built a rope unit ready to run. The Cannons’ rookie LSM – ninth overall pick out of Loyola, Scott Ratliff – was their key to winning in transition.
“If you can move sideways and backwards faster than they can run forward, you’ll never get beat,” Scott’s father, Randy – a two-time All-American and two-time captain at the University of Maryland (1976-79) – would tell him.
And Scott would do it. He outran opponents from offense-to-defense and back upfield from defense-to-offense. His linemates – Max Seibald, Brent Adams, Josh Hawkins, John Glesener, Ryan Tucker, and Rob Emery – ran with him. The 2015 Boston Cannons pushed the pace in a way the league hadn’t seen since introducing a fourth pole. They created 5-on-4s, 5-on-3s, 6-on-4s, or some numerical advantage every time up the field.
“I knew that we had chemistry right off the bat. That’s where our give-and-go stuff started. Him looking for me in transition, and me looking for him,” said Will Manny. “It was a really once-in-a-lifetime type of connection – knowing exactly where to be when he has the ball and vice versa. He’s easy to play with.”
Some long-stick midfielders leaned more long-stick than midfield. Scott was different. Chris Rosenthall once suggested either giving Ratliff his own position or referring to the rest as LSDM. Scott reminded everyone what the ‘M’ in ‘LSM’ stood for; he took pride in patrolling the area between the arcs.
Every game. Sprinting, shuffling sideways, and backpedaling between the arcs. Because that version of Scott gave his team its best chance to win.
In 2016, Major League Lacrosse added an expansion team: The Atlanta Blaze.
The first-ever professional lacrosse player from Georgia, Scott was an obvious target for the Blaze. Atlanta packaged Brodie Merrill, Mike Pellegrino, Justin Turri, and their 2017 first-round pick in a trade to the Cannons to bring Scott home.
Scott’s leadership – both in the locker room and in his community – gave the expansion team an identity.
“The thing I’d like to emphasize about Scott is he does a lot of leadership with young athletes,” said Blaze head coach Dave Huntley in 2017. “The stuff you see out there from Rat as a lacrosse player, that honestly pales in comparison to what he does with young people and their leadership. I’m really lucky to have guys like that on my team.”
Huntley saw Scott’s skillset and envisioned a different role than he’d played with Tucker. The Blaze didn’t have two-way midfielders who could run like Seibald, Adams, Hawkins, and company. They were leaking transition goals. Letting up what Huntley called “dead nuts” 4-on-3 opportunities. So Huntley played Scott on offense.
You might think that’s hyperbole. That Huntley gave Scott a long leash. That he played cat-and-mouse substitution games deeper into the shot clock than anticipated.
Let me be clear: Scott Ratliff stayed and played entire possessions of six-on-six offense for the 2017 Atlanta Blaze – and then sprinted back into the hole for defense.
“I can just remember this one game in Atlanta. Sometimes he would go down and get inside. Sometimes he would hang a little bit. And I was like, ‘That guy is not coming off the field!’” recalls then-Charlotte Hounds defensive coordinator Tony Resch, who eventually coached Scott with Archers LC. “Then he’d go back down, play some good defense, run out, and do it again. That’s hard work right there. And he never looked completely gassed, which I guess is why they gave him the green light to do what I think I’ve only seen him do.”
Only two longpoles have ever scored 100 career points: Brodie Merrill (146) and Scott Ratliff (105). There’s never been a split-dodging long-stick like Scott. While he outran opponents in Boston, his stick skills and passing vision turned 4-on-4 and 5-on-5 chances into advantages in Atlanta.
Every game. Staying and playing settled offense for 60 minutes. Because that version of Scott gave his team its best chance to win.
When the Premier Lacrosse League formed in 2019, Scott joined the Archers Lacrosse Club – bringing his passion, leadership, and consistency.
“He made my transition to pro coaching much easier just based on who he was,” said Archers LC head coach Chris Bates. “From a compete level, his motor’s always running. As a leader, he just has such a great perspective on the game.”
Scott studied the game nonstop. He led PLL in faceoff wing groundballs in 2019. He slid, switched, blitzed, trapped, and recovered all over the defensive half of the field. Resch jokingly referred to Ratliff, Matt McMahon, and the rest of the defense as a Mensa group. They knew scouting reports inside-and-out, were all ears when Resch grabbed the iPad at halftime, and regularly finished among the stingiest units in the league.
In 2022 Bates saw a new role for Scott. Different than the offensive LSM from Atlanta or the two-way track star from Boston. With Warren Jeffrey injured, the Archers needed a starter down low.
Scott prepared differently during the offseason. He packed on muscle, knowing he’d be asked to defend post-ups at the island and inside rolls at GLE. The same intensity and thoroughness that Scott had used to condition himself for 60-minute games in Atlanta was applied to becoming the strongest on-ball defender he could be. In the final year of his professional career, Scott started every game at a new position: Close defense.
“There’s nothing Scott Ratliff can’t do,” said Manny. “He’s the best teammate and my favorite teammate I’ve ever played with.”
Every game. Down low defending the best attackmen in the world. Because that version of Scott gave his team its best chance to win.