Corey Small wasn’t even given the chance to try and recreate any more late-game magic.
The Vancouver Stealth sniper had four goals in the fourth quarter and six for the game. But with his team trailing by one and 17 seconds to go, the Colorado Mammoth made sure the ball did not find Small’s stick.
The Stealth still had two cracks — Rhys Duch’s first shot was blocked and Dillon Ward then stopped Logan Schuss’ attempt — as Colorado held on for the 13-12 victory on Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre.
The teams were playing in a National Lacrosse League West Division semifinal game.
“We did our best to not let Corey Small get that last shot. We said we are going to be damned if we let him get seven on us,” said Colorado coach Pat Coyle.
“We tried to execute but they got a stick on the shot,” Small said.
“It is a game of inches, where if that is three inches to the left that might be a shot on net that is a goal.”
The Stealth were behind the eight-ball all night, trailing 3-0 in the first quarter and struggling to recover. And when the team did make a run, Colorado always answered.
When all was said and done, Vancouver never had the lead and the game was only tied for a total of 9:56 of the 60 minutes.
“Obviously you want to play with the lead and put the pressure on them,” Small said.
“We have been a pretty resilient team where we have had to come back from before, but you have to find a way to go on a run and we just couldn’t. Too many times exchanging goals and when we did get on a run it just wasn’t enough.”
“Everything we got within one or tied, they seemed to respond,” said Vancouver captain Curtis Hodgson.
“It was a little bit too little too late unfortunately. I thought we responded better in the second half unfortunately just ran out of time and had too big a hole to come back from.”
The Vancouver offence was led by the duo of Small (six goals) and Logan Schuss (three goals, six assists).
Jordan Durston added a goal and two helpers but the right-side and the rest of the team only had two goals: a goal and an assist apiece from right-handed forward Joel McCready and defender Justin Salt.
Cory Conway and Duch were held to two assists apiece.
Duch, the team’s second leading scorer was held goal-less for the first time in 27 games.
“We put ourselves in a little bit of a hole, getting down four and gave up too many transitions, which we identified before the game was going to be something we had to work to not allow and we allowed it,” said Vancouver coach Jamie Batley, adding that the Mammoth didn’t do anything the Stealth did not expect.
“It is lacrosse and you are going to make mistakes . That is frustrating because we know how to stop it and we didn’t stop it,” he said.