The Valley Rebels’ regular season finale served as an apt summary of the team’s fortunes to date.
With the clock ticking down and less than four minutes remaining in the third period at MSA Arena on Friday, the local senior B box lacrosse squad held a 5-4 lead over the Ladner Pioneers on the strength of Curtis Callard’s hat trick and singles from Geordie Wells and Adam Schulstad.
But the Pioneers struck for two goals 28 seconds apart, courtesy Travis St. Germain and Nathan Clare, to steal a 6-5 win.
“It’s typical of the way our season’s gone – we’ve been short guys for about 10 games now, and I can’t dress a full lineup,” said Rebels head coach Jim Nishiyama, who has been suiting up as a player of late due to others’ injuries and work commitments. “It’s very frustrating.”
The loss left the Rebels with a 9-9 record, good for fourth place in the West Coast Senior Lacrosse Association, and they face the No. 5 Royal City Capitals (8-10) in a best-of-three first-round playoff series beginning Wednesday (8 p.m., MSA Arena). The winner moves on to face the top-seeded Nanaimo Timbermen in the semis.
Nishiyama is hopeful the so-called “second season” will represent a fresh start for his talented team, which has struggled to live up to expectations to date. They face a deceptively tough opponent in Royal City, which won two of three head-to-head meetings this season.
“I don’t know what it is about us – on paper they’re not as good as us, and we just kind of take them for granted,” he said. “Hopefully with the playoffs coming, we’ll find a newfound dedication and stick to the game plan.”