Mark Matthews scored five goals, added three assists and was named the playoff's most valuable player as the Edmonton Rush won the National Lacrosse League's Champion's Cup on Friday by defeating the Toronto Rock 11-10 in Game 2 of the best-of-three final.
"It's absolutely unbelievable," said Matthews. "As a team, we worked all year and have been through a lot of stuff with everything behind the scenes. We just battled through it and stuck with everything we needed to do and proved it tonight. We wore them down and got some late there and obviously our back end and goaltending was second to none in any sport."
Robert Church had a pair of goals while Jeff Cornwall, Zack Greer, Ben McIntosh and Matthew Dinsdale also scored for the Rush. Edmonton swept the first-ever NLL final between two Canadian teams.
It was the Rush's first NLL championship win, coming in their 10th season.
Rob Hellyer, Kasey Beirnes and Colin Doyle each had two goals for the Rock, who came up short in their drive for a record seventh championship. Josh Sanderson, Kevin Crowley, Stephan Leblanc and Jeff Gilbert also scored for Toronto.
"Obviously I am not very happy with the result, but it was a great lacrosse game and had a lot of things that had to have lacrosse fans enjoying what they saw out there tonight," said Toronto head coach John Lovell. "We were battling to stay alive and they were battling to win the championship. It came right down to the end. I'm pretty proud of the way we competed and gave ourselves a chance."
The first quarter proved to be a defensive struggle, as Toronto emerged with a 2-1 lead on goals by captain Sanderson and Hellyer on Rush goalie Aaron Bold. The Rush responded with a goal by Cornwall on Rock starter Brandon Miller.
The Rush had a late surge in the second to take a 5-4 lead into the half as Matthews scored a pair of goals, including one with just 0.1 seconds remaining on the clock.
A three-goal surge briefly put the Rock in front again, but Church scored his second of the game with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter to send the game into the fourth tied at eight.
Toronto took the lead once again, but Matthews continued to put on a show, scoring his fifth of the game on a leaping short-handed breakaway shot to put his team up 10-9 with over four minutes left to play.
Doyle tied the game with two minutes left, but Dinsdale responded for Edmonton with 1:02 to play and the Rush were able to kill the clock thanks to a huge stop by Bold.
"No matter what, the clock is staring you right in the face," said Bold of the last second pressure. "You can't just say don't look at the clock because what are you going to do? You're going to look at the clock. I said, 'OK, there's a minute left, I have one or two shots to go."
"It's a tough pill to swallow, losing on a late goal like that," said Hellyer. "We still thought on the bench that we could tie it up and go to overtime and win that game. It's tough, even losing to a good team like that."
Notes: Rock forward and 50 goal scorer Brett Hickey was absent from the Toronto lineup after suffering an injury in the morning shoot-around… The Rush won the first game of the series 15-9 last Saturday in Toronto… Edmonton had played in the Champion's Cup just once before, falling to the Rochester Knighthawks in 2012.Suggest a correction