EDMONTON - It took six games, but they finally did it.
The Edmonton Rush came away with their first win of the National Lacrosse League season last night, 14-12 over the defending champion Washington Stealth at Rexall Place.
And it couldn't have come soon enough. Any later and the Rush would have tied the franchise-record 0-6 start that the club endured in its inaugural season in 2006 and repeated in 2008.
With two minutes left in regulation and the score tied 12-12, Rush defender Bill Greer stole the ball off a Stealth stick and scored his first goal of the season on a breakaway.
"Six games in, I just needed a goal and was kind of thinking, ‘Man, when is it going to come?' " said Greer, the Rush's first selection in the 2010 dispersal draft.
If Greer was waiting to pick his spots, with quality goals over quantity, his timing couldn't have been better.
It may not be the biggest win of Rush head coach Derek Keenan's career, but it ranks right up there.
"Definitely not (a bigger one) this season and I might even say one of the biggest of my career because we needed to get that one," said Keenan, who watched Brett Mydske add an empty-netter to seal the victory.
"We faced a lot of adversity and really showed our true character — finally. It seemed to take us a while, but we just gutted out the win."
It came against an opponent that edged them out of the West Division final in overtime last season — and thaat intensity seemed to carry over to last night.
"Maybe a little," Keenan said. "We seem to have a pretty good rivalry with those guys. Pretty bitter out there, but that's OK because we like to play that game."
Edmonton opened the game in a bit of a daze, allowing three goals on Washington's first four shots.
Lewis Ratcliffe opened the Stealth's scoring on Matt Disher on the way to three goals and 10 points on the night. Tom N. Johnson made it 2-0 on Washington's second shot.
When Disher made his first save, the crowd of 6,100 gave an all-too-vocal round of applause — which immediately ceased when Rhys Duch made it 3-0 less than two minutes in.
Scott Stewart put the Rush on theboard with an unassisted effort at the three-minute mark, then Edmonton's first sign of defence came from the bench when a challenge flag negated an unassisted goal by Stealth defender Mike Grimes due to a crease violation.
"We obviously had a very, very poor start and it was hard to put a finger on why," Keenan said.
"We thought the guys were prepared, but the bottom line is we battled back and seemed to regroup there and really got our offence going."
Edmonton outshot the Stealth 66-49. Two of those resulted in back-to-back shorthanded goals by Dean Hill and Gavin Prout as the Rush went one-for-four on the power play and killed off three of four penalties.
Andy Secore and Scott Stewart both led the way with hat tricks, but it was Greer who stole the spotlight late.
"It was huge," Greer said. "We knew we had it in the room, we knew we had the guys. We didn't want to lose and I think that's why we had the bad start, we were squeezing our sticks too tight and were too nervous."