By Sam Laskaris

Members of the Merchants Lacrosse Club are certainly not making things easy for themselves.

The Oshawa-based squad had an opportunity to considerably improve its playoff fortunes on Tuesday.

But the Merchants were downed 10-7 in an Ontario Series Lacrosse match by the host Ennismore James Gang. The match was held at the Robert E. Young Recreation Complex in Ennismore.

With the regular season winding down, a Merchants’ victory would have moved them three points ahead of the James Gang in the battle for the fourth and final playoff spot in the six-team league.

But with their win, the James Gang jumped ahead of the Merchants and now has a slim one-point lead in the standings.

Ennismore has 10 points via its 5-9-0 record. And the Merchants, who have a mark of 4-7-1, have nine points.

While the Merchants have four regular season contests remaining, the James Gang has just two left.

“I still like our chances (of making the playoffs),” said Merchants’ head coach Clancy Almas. “We don’t have to win out. Basically, we just have to win one more game (than Ennismore). If they win two, we have to win three. And if they win one, we have to win two. It’s simple.”

The Merchants hit the road on Tuesday a bit undermanned. The club, which had 38 players on its roster, had to release 13 individuals on Sunday in order to get down to the league-imposed limit of a 25-man roster.

“It drastically affected our lineup,” Almas said.

Two Merchants’ players – Jake Gilmour and Mark Debrone - were unavailable for duty on Tuesday as they are nursing injuries. And several others had travel issues or work commitments preventing them from making it to the game.

As a result, the Merchants had just 16 runners (two under the maximum 18 allowed) dress for the match. And one of those players was an affiliated player, Cameron McGinnis, a call-up who spent the past season with the West Durham Ironheads, a Junior B franchise.

Rookie Brady Kearnan was the Merchants’ main offensive weapon versus the James Gang. He scored five of the team’s seven goals. Kearnan also had an assist on the night.

“Brady was on fire,” Almas said.

Sean Westley and Devin Pipher had the other goals for the Merchants.

The Merchants are now gearing up for a pair of weekend home games.

On Saturday they will square off against the Oakville Rock in an 8 p.m. match at Oshawa’s Delpark Homes Centre.

And on Sunday the Merchants will host the Six Nations Rivermen. That contest has an opening faceoff set for 6 p.m.