The Valley Rebels saw their season come to an end on Wednesday evening, as they fell 10-6 to the Tri-City Bandits in Game 4 of their West Coast Senior Lacrosse Association semifinal series at Burnaby Lake Arena.
The victory gave the Bandits a 3-1 triumph in the best-of-five series.
“We ran out of gas,” Rebels head coach Jim Nishiyama analyzed. “We only had 15 players, and it was tough. Our defence was pushed to the limit, and they were exhausted.”
The Rebels faced challenges both mental and physical heading into Wednesday’s do-or-die game.
In the aftermath of the Bandits’ 7-5 victory in Game 3 last week, the Rebels lodged a formal complaint with the WCSLA, charging that one of the officials assigned to the game plays for one of the Bandits’ feeder teams in Port Moody.
WCSLA commissioner Iris Parkyn initially ruled in the Rebels’ favour, but Tri-City appealed to the B.C. Lacrosse senior directorate. At a hearing Tuesday evening, the initial ruling was overturned and Tri-City’s victory was allowed to stand.
The Rebels also lost starting goalie Matt Morehouse after he injured his back at work. Backup Cam Janzen took over between the pipes, and played well in the Game 4 loss.
“He hasn’t had a start in probably a month and a half, but he held us in the game,” Nishiyama said.
The Rebels had high hopes of making the WCSLA finals for the first time since the senior B franchise moved from Surrey to Abbotsford in 2005, and they were in first place for much of the regular season before finishing in second. While the semifinal elimination was disappointing, Nishiyama deemed the season a success.
“Our record was 13-6-1 overall, and that’s pretty good considering you’ve got a rookie coach,” Nishiyama joked in self-deprecating fashion. “We had a lot of guys who hadn’t been to the second round of the playoffs. It’s definitely something to build on.”