At the 12-game point of a season, the Edmonton Rush's building blocks came tumbling down.
The 16-9 loss to the Calgary Roughnecks Friday night was the Rush's worst game of the season. Going into the fourth and final chapter of the NLL's Battle of Alberta - Year 1 edition, the Rush were outclassed skill-wise by a Roughnecks team positioning for a long run in the playoffs.
But the Rush were expected to compete, tough it out, and just maybe sneak off with the same sort of win they pulled off in the clash between the teams one month ago.
DEAD AND BURIED EARLY
Instead the Rush collapsed. The never-over-till-it's-over philosophy of high-scoring lacrosse was dead and buried early. With Calgary up 10-4 at the half, the game was over.
"I would say it certainly was a setback," admitted A.J. Jomha, the Rush's director of lacrosse operations.
"The one thing that definitely came to light was that if we don't have all 18 players on the floor giving a full effort, we're not going to compete in this league. The moment we start having passengers, we're in trouble.
"Up until (Friday night) we may not have had top performances each game, but at least we gave it our all."
The loss, which dropped the Rush to 1-11 on the year, was particularly embarrassing for the club. They were outworked on their own floor and were never a factor after Calgary erased a quick 2-0 deficit.
"In the three games before against Calgary we competed for four quarters," said head coach Paul Day.
"In this one, I think we only had about a quarter and a half of fight and that was very disappointing."
Inside the Rush dressing room, the growing sentiment is that they are letting the fans down.
Despite the brutal first-year record, the Rush are still doing reasonably well in attendance by averaging around 10,500 per game.
But loyalty only goes so far, especially when the home team has yet to satisfy the home crowd.
FOR THE FANS
"The players want to win for the fans and for the organization," said Rush president Duane Vienneau.
"The playoffs are gone for us. Now the playoffs for us is to get a win for the fans. I want this team to end the season on a positive note. I want our fans to get a taste of what a winning team is like and we have two opportunities left to do that."
QUICK STICKS: Rush goaltender Pat Campbell left the hospital under his own steam late Friday night after being hit under the throat protector by a shot. He suffered some bruising on his neck, but is listed as probable for Saturday's game against Colorado.