EDMONTON - Looking back on their results this season, things could have been much different for the Edmonton Rush had they not been able to pull through in the clutch.
Six of the team’s 10 wins were by just a goal this year, which is rare in lacrosse, where a three-goal margin is considered tight. Their only one-goal loss came to the Calgary Roughnecks in overtime, late in the year, which incidentally cost them a first-round home playoff date.
“I think there have been a ton of times this year where it hasn’t been pretty, but we’ve just found a way to win,” said Rush forward Brodie Merrill. “I think the most encouraging thing to look at, is that we’ve been down by four or five goals in some of our games and been able to come back to win. It just gives you that confidence to know that we can respond well to adversity and we've shown that we have over the course of the season.”
Heading into Calgary Saturday for their first playoff game in franchise history, the Rush know they’ll have their hands full with the defending NLL champions.
The Roughnecks won the season series by virtue of their overtime win late in the year. The two teams had split home-and-home encounter early in the campaign with each team winning at home.
“It’s a big challenge,” Merrill said. “You look at their team and they’ve won a couple of championships in the last five years. Obviously they’re very talented offensively, but I think it goes deeper than that.
“They have some guys who have experience winning and know what it takes. Defensively, they’re very fast and aggressive and that really forces you to make some quick decisions under pressure. Their goalies are very good and they tend to play well at home as home. It’s a huge challenge. We’re not hiding from that challenge, we’re excited for it. It’s going to take our best to win and we’re thankful for that opportunity.”
Jan. 30 ... Rush win 14-11 in Edmonton
Ryan Ward scores a goal and adds five assists for the Rush in the victory.
Feb. 5 ... Roughnecks win 13-8 in Calgary
Josh Sanderson leads the way for the Roughnecks with three goals and three assists in the contest.
April 16 ... Roughnecks win 15-14 in overtime in Edmonton
Sanderson scores the winner in overtime to give the Roughnecks the season series.