They came so close.
Having won more than half of their regular-season games by a single goal, the Edmonton Rush looked like they were going to pull another rabbit out of the hat Saturday in Seattle when Andy Secore scored with 20 seconds left to pull Edmonton even with the Washington Stealth in the National Lacrosse League semifinal.
Gavin Prout nearly won it off the ensuing draw, but his shot labelled for the top corner was deflected over the net.
That’s why the 12-11 overtime loss was so hard to swallow.
“We had the momentum in our swing,” Secore said. “I think if we would have had one possession in overtime, the game would have been over. They had the panic button on, they didn’t know what was happening.
“We needed that one touch, but they were lucky enough to pick that ball clean off the faceoff. That was the first clean faceoff they won all game. That was the last possession, and it hurt us.”
Paul Rabil was the beneficiary of the opening draw in overtime as the ball bounced right to him. The Stealth forward took it and ran, weaving past a Rush defender, then putting three moves on goaltender Matt Disher before dunking a shot over him.
The goal came eight seconds into the extra frame, putting an end to the Rush’s memorable season.
“It’s been a complete turnaround here this year,” Secore said. “If you look at the coaching staff and all the players (GM-coach) Derek Keenan brought in.
“(Owner) Bruce (Urban) and everyone in the front office has been great, Rexall Place was getting a little busier and there was a little buzz around town.
“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to host a playoff game. That would have been nice.”
Had the Rush been able to complete the comeback, the club would have hosted the league championship game against the Toronto Rock on Saturday.
The Rock upset the Orlando Titans earlier in the day, providing extra motivation for the Rush heading into their contest with the Stealth.
“We heard that Toronto had won,” Secore said. “We caught that before we went out on the floor. The boys got excited, there were a lot of smiles ... but we had a task at hand and we didn’t accomplish what we wanted.
“But we battled back, it looks good on our team for battling back. We could have easily packed it in when they got the big lead on us, but we battled back, dug deep and they were just able to get a lucky one.”
Having given up five consecutive goals through the latter half of the first quarter and into the second, the Rush played catch-up for of the contest.
Edmonton scored twice in the last minute with Disher pulled for the extra attacker.
“We’ve been in that situation a few times this year where we’ve been able to battle back and tie it and force overtime,” said assistant captain Brodie Merrill.
“Rabil just made a great play and unfortunately for us, that ends it.
“But I thought it was a pretty gutsy effort on our part coming back and getting into overtime.”
During the season, the Rush won six one-goal games, with two of those coming in overtime.
“We’re going to need to take some time in order to let this sink in,” said Keenan.
“It’s an awful long off-season in the NLL. That’s one of the biggest downsides. We won’t see each other now until November.
“It’s a tough, long off-season when you don’t get the job done that you wanted to get done.”